RIGHT OF A PERSON TO DEFEND HIS PERSON, FAMILY AND PROPERTY AGAINST UNWARRANTED AGGRESSION, TRESPASS OR THREAT

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CASE TITLE: STATE v. SHONTO (2019) LPELR-47431(SC)

JUDGMENT DATE: 12TH APRIL, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE

LEAD JUDGMENT: AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, J.S.C.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on Criminal Law and Procedure. 

FACTS

During a scuffle with one “Umaru Ahmed a.k.a. Masho”, who took his cows into the Respondent’s maize farm while rearing cattle, the Respondent stabbed the said “Masho” [the deceased] with a knife on his left leg, which caused his death.

The Respondent ran to the nearest Police Station and reported himself. He was later arraigned before the Taraba State High Court and charged with the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death. He pleaded not guilty, and to prove its case, the Prosecution called five Witnesses and tendered the Medical Report [Exhibit 1] and Respondent’s Statement to Police [Exhibit 2].

In his defence, Respondent called one Witness and he testified as DW2. While he was being cross-examined, the Prosecution applied to tender another Statement he made to the Police, but Defence Counsel objected on the ground that the said Statement was not part of the Proof of Evidence. The Trial Court upheld the Objection and the Statement was marked “tendered but rejected”.

​In his Judgment delivered on 31/11/2012, the learned trial Judge, Adi, J., picked holes in the evidence of the five Prosecution Witnesses and found that PW1 was not an eyewitness, as he was described by the Prosecution; that the evidence of PW2, PW3 and PW4 are complete hearsay. The Court held that the Prosecution has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. The case was dismissed and the Accused was discharged and acquitted.

The Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal found the case to be without merit and dismissed same. Further aggrieved, the Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

In the determination of this appeal, the Court adopted the issues for determination as formulated by the Appellant as follows:

(a) Whether the Court of Appeal was right when it held that Exhibit 2, the extrajudicial Statement of the Respondent does not qualify as a confessional statement and that the Prosecution failed to prove its case as required by law?

(b) Whether the Court of Appeal rightly affirmed the decision of the learned trial Judge discharging and acquitting the Respondent on the ground that the defence of self-defence avails him?

DECISION/HELD

In conclusion, the appeal was dismissed for lacking in merit and the judgment of the Court of Appeal was upheld.

RATIOS:

  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – DEFENCE OF SELF-DEFENCE: Guiding principles of self-defence
  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – OFFENCE OF CULPABLE HOMICIDE PUNISHABLE WITH DEATH: Ingredient(s) that must be proved to establish the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death
  • EVIDENCE – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT: Requirement(s) of the law for a statement of an accused person to constitute a confessional statement
  • EVIDENCE – BURDEN OF PROOF/STANDARD OF PROOF: Burden and standard of proof on the prosecution to rebut the presumption of innocence of an accused person
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lawpavilion • May 23, 2019


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