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THE EFFECT OF RESTING CASE ON THAT OF PROSECUTION

Dictum

In further emphasis and even at the risk of repeating myself, I will restate that an accused person who rests his case on that of the prosecution has taken a gamble and a risk. He has, in other words shut out himself and will have no one but himself to blame. This is because, he does not wish to place any fact before the trial court other than those which the prosecution has presented in evidence. It also confirms that he does not wish to explain any facts, or rebut any allegation made against him. The rating of the effect is not less than admission of the evidence led by the prosecution: Mogaji v. Nigeria Army (2008) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1089) 338, (2008) 3 NCC 490 at 490 and Igabele v. State (2005) All FWLR (Pt. 285) 568, (2005) 1 NCC 59. In other words, by the appellant choosing to rest his case on the prosecution, he had denied the trial court the opportunity of assessing the credibility of the accused as a witness as compared to the prosecution for purpose of evaluation and determining which side to believe. The appellant should not therefore be given the privilege of being heard on that which he freely chose to do. The appellant in short had shut himself out and should therefore not be heard to complain. In the absence of any evidence from the appellant therefore, reliance was properly sustained on his confessional statement which was admitted in evidence. The accused’s statement, being confessional by nature is accorded the same effect as a witness’s evidence which is credible. The accused as it were can be properly convicted solely on his own confessional statement without more. The further authorities are the cases of Egboghonome v. The State (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt. 306) 383, (1993) 9 SCNJ (Pt 1) 1 at 29; Ekpe v. The State (1994) 9 NWLR (Pt. 368) 263, (1994) 12 SCNJ 131 at 137 and Akpan v. The State (2001) FWLR (Pt. 56) 735, (2000) 7 SC (Pt. 11) 29 at 40 which are all A relevant in point.

— Ogunbiyi JSC. Ajibade v. State (SC. 439/2011, 14 Dec 2012)

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R v. NATH; EGGSHELL PRINCIPLE

The case of R. v. Nath (1961) All NLR 500 though slightly different appears to have been decided on same principles with the present case. The accused in that case, while struggling with the deceased for the possession of some fruits, pushed the deceased down and struck her twice in the stomach with a stick. Her spleen was enlarged as a result of chronic malaria which ruptured it and she died almost at once. The court found the accused did not intend to cause grievous harm which as the court found was not an objectively forceable consequence of the blows he inflicted on the deceased. The Supreme Court set aside a verdict of murder and substituted a verdict of manslaughter.

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ACTUS REUS AND MENS REA IN CRIMINAL MATTERS

It is in recognition of the above requirements that we usually say that for there to exist criminal responsibility, the prosecution must not only prove that it was the act of the accused that resulted or caused the death of the deceased but that the resultant death was intended by the accused. The above constitutes the explanation for the doctrine of actus reus and mens rea in criminal prosecutions.

— Onnoghen, JSC. Njoku v. The State (2012)

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CRIMINAL RESPONSIBILITY REQUIRES ACTUS REUS & MENS REA

In law, criminal responsibility cannot be treated as mere function of actus reus, the physical act, unless in strict liability offences or as mere civil responsibility. Thus, to allege a crime against another person is not and cannot be a mere tea party to be embarked upon carelessly or thoughtlessly or lightly. It is a decision that must be weighed and reached properly and must be intended to achieve justice to the society more than to the individual. This is perhaps, why crimes are usually said to be committed against the state even where the primary or nominal person against whom it was done may be an individual.

– B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Ganiyu v. Oshoakpemhe & Ors. (2021) – CA/B/12A/2021

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