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WEIGHT/CONSIDERATIONS TO BE ATTACHED TO A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

Dictum

The fact that an accused person denies making a confessional statement to the police, does not render such extra-judicial statement inadmissible merely because the accused person denies having made it. What the Court is expected to do to determine the weight to be attached to a retracted confessional statement is to test its truthfulness and veracity by examining the said statement in the light of other credible available evidence. The Court would consider whether: a. There is anything outside that Confessional statement to show that it is true; b. It is Corroborated; c. The facts stated in it are true as far as it can be tested; d. The accused person had the opportunity of committing the offence; e. The accused person’s confession is possible; f. The confession is consistent with the other facts ascertained and proved at the trial. See Per OKORO, JSC, in ALAO V. STATE (2019) LPELR-47856(SC) (PP. 23-24 PARAS. E).

— M.D. Muhammad, JSC. Friday Charles v. The State of Lagos (SC.CR/503/2020, Friday March 31 2023)

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WHERE THERE IS RETRACTION OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT, COURT SHOULD CONVICT ONLY WHEN THERE IS CORROBORATION

Where a confessional statement is denied or retracted by an accused as in the instant case. it is desirable to have corroborative evidence no matter how slight before convicting on it. The Courts are enjoined as a matter of duty to test the veracity or otherwise of such statement by comparing it with other facts and circumstances outside the statement, to see whether they support, confirm or correspond with it. In other words, the Court must scrutinize the statement to test its truthfulness or otherwise in line with other available evidence. See: KAZEEM VS STATE (2009) All FWLR (Pt.465) page 1749; EDHIGERE VS STATE (1996) 8 NWLR (Pt.464) page 1; ONOCHIE & 7 ORS. VS THE REPUBLIC (1966) 1 SCNLR 204; and QUEEN VS ITULE (1961) 2 SCNLR 183.

— S.D. Bage, JSC. State v Masiga (2017) – SC

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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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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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FREE AND VOLUNTARY CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT CAN GROUND A CONVICTION

In the case of Udo v State (2016) 12 NWLR (Pt.1525) pp.33-34, paras. H-A, this Court held that: “Free and voluntary confessional statement of an accused alone is sufficient to sustain his conviction, provided the Court is satisfied that it was made in a free atmosphere and is direct, unequivocal and positively proved. In this case, the two statements made by the appellant as Exhibits 4 and 5 were confessional. They were sufficient to convict the appellant thereon. Consequently, the defence of alibi raised by the accused during his testimony was too late in the day and only an afterthought”.

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CO-ACCUSED INCRIMINATING CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

On the issue of his Co-Accused’s Statement, the Appellant is right that his statement cannot be used against him. The position of the law is that the Statement of a Co-Accused Person to the Police is binding on him only see Suberu v. State (2010) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1197) 586. However, where the evidence incriminating an Accused Person comes from a Co-Accused Person, the Court is at liberty to rely on it as long as the co-accused person who gave such incriminating evidence, was tried along with that Accused Person. see Dairo v The State (2017) LPELR-43724(SC) and Micheal V. State (2008) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1104) 383.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. Usman v The State (2019) – SC.228/2016

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CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT CAN GROUND THE CONVICTION OF AN ACCUSED

It is now axiomatic that a confessional statement can ground the conviction of an accused person provided that it is direct and positive. It is therefore no longer debatable that a man may be convicted on his confessional statement alone which is voluntary, free, positive, so long as the Court is satisfied of its truth. Such a confession would constitute proof of guilt of the maker and suffices as evidence upon which to ground or sustain his conviction.

– Abdu Aboki, JSC. Chukwu v. State (2021)

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