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THE EFFECT OF A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

Dictum

A confessional statement which is voluntarily made is an admission by the maker that he committed the offence. it is the best evidence in support of the case of the prosecution against an accused person. however, such evidence, apart from being voluntarily made, must be positive, direct, pungent and consistent with other facts as proved in the case.

– Adamu Jauro, JSC. Enabeli v. State (2021)

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TRIAL-WITHIN-TRIAL APPLIES ONLY TO VOLUNTARINESS OF CONFESSION

The rule with respect to conducting a trial within a trial operates only in cases of questioning the voluntariness or otherwise of confessions. It does not operate where an accused person denies making the statement or retracts.

– Galadima, JSC. Kingsley v. State (2016)

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WHERE CONFESSION IS OBJECTED TO – ADMISSIBILITY SHOULD BE DETERMINED

Indeed, it is settled law that where a confession is objected to not as in the instant case where no objection was raised as to the voluntariness of these extra judicial statements – a judge sitting alone must hear and determine its admissibility.

– Galadima, JSC. Kingsley v. State (2016)

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A RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT MUST BE CORROBORATED TO BE ADMISSIBLE

The Respondent subsequently retracted Exhibits C & C 1. A retracted confessional statement is nonetheless admissible in evidence. The practice however is to look for some corroborative evidence outside the confession which makes the fact of the making of the confession credible and reliable before the Court relies on it to convict the accused, the maker. This practice which has come to be known as the “SYKE’S RULE”, following R. v. SYKES (1913) 8 Cr. App Report 233, has since become part of our criminal law jurisprudence, it having been cited with approval in several cases including UBIERHO v. THE STATE (2005) 5 NWLR (pt. 919) 644; FABIYI v. THE STATE (2015) LPELR 24834 (SC). The Rule ensures that the trial Court must properly satisfy itself that the retracted confession was infact made truly and voluntarily by the accused person.

— Ejembi Eko, JSC. State v Sani Ibrahim (2019) – SC.1097/2016

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FREE & VOLUNTARY CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT CAN GROUND CONVICTION

It is trite law that where a person makes a free and voluntary confessional statement which is direct and positive and is properly proved, a trial court can comfortably convict him even on such confessional statement alone, without necessarily looking for any corroborative evidence.

– Sanusi, JSC. Umaru Sunday v. FRN (2018) – SC.145/2013

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RETRACTION OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT DOES NOT RENDER IT INADMISSIBLE

It is trite that the mere retraction of a confessional statement by the Defendant will not render it inadmissible. It will only affect the weight to be attached to it where the Defendant denies making it at the earliest opportunity.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Junaidu v. State (2021)

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FACTORS THE COURT WILL CONSIDER BEFORE RELYING ON A RETRACTED STATEMENT

Before relying on a retracted confessional statement to convict an accused person, the factors the Court would consider are as follows: 1. Whether there is anything outside the confession which shows that it may be true; 2. Whether the confessional statement is in fact corroborated; 3. Whether the relevant statements of fact made in it are most likely true as far as they can be tested; 4. Whether the accused had the opportunity of committing the offence; 5. Whether the confession is possible; and 6. Whether the alleged confession is consistent with other facts that have been ascertained and established. See: R Vs Sykes (1913) 8 Cr.App. Report 233; Ubierho Vs The State (2005) 5 NWLR (Pt. 919) 644 @ 655; Nwachukwu Vs The State (supra); Fabiyi Vs The State (2015) LPELR -24834 (SC) @ 33-34 E-D.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. State v Abdu Musa (2019) – SC.625/2016

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