WHETHER THE ENGLISH VERSION OF A TRANSLATED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT MUST BE SIGNED BY AN ACCUSED PERSON

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CASE TITLE: STATE v. SA’IDU (2019) LPELR-47397(SC)

JUDGMENT DATE: 12TH APRIL, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE

LEAD JUDGMENT: JOHN INYANG OKORO, J.S.C.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on Criminal Law and Procedure.

FACTS

This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal Kaduna Division delivered on 19th February 2016 wherein the Court of Appeal set aside the conviction and sentence of the Respondent to death for armed robbery passed by the High Court of Katsina State on 2nd July 2012.

On 22nd February, 2001, at about 2:00 am, some people went to the house of Alhaji Unlmaru Masanawa, the village head of Sabuwar Kasa village in Kafur Local Government Area of Katsina State, now deceased, and demanded him to give them money and upon saying that he had no money, they beat him with sticks and then shot him with a gun. He later became unconscious and subsequently died from the gunshot wounds.

​One Idris Abdullahi suggested sixteen names of notorious armed robbers in the area to the police out of which eight, including the appellant, were arrested in connection with the robbery. Six out of the eight arrested persons were charged with armed robbery under Section 1(2) (b) of the Robbery and Firearms (Special Provisions) Act, Cap 398 LFN 1990, the Appellant being the 4th accused person.

At the trial, eight witnesses testified for the prosecution, (the Appellant herein) and some exhibits were tendered and admitted in evidence. The Respondent (as the 4th accused) testified in his defence and called no witnesses. At the end of the trial, the learned Trial Judge found the Respondent guilty, convicted and sentenced him to death on 27th July 2012.

Dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial Court, the Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal sitting at Kaduna.

The Court of Appeal after hearing the appeal allowed the appeal, discharged and acquitted the Respondent.

Dissatisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal, the Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

The Supreme Court determined the appeal based on the issues formulated by the appellant which are as follows:

  1. Whether there are pieces of evidence outside the retracted Confessional Statement of the Respondent (Exhibit 8A) warranting him to be convicted solely on it even though he did not sign Exhibit “8B” (Translation of Exhibit “8A”) and whether there are identified lapses in the evidence of the prosecution which fail to link the Respondent to the crime, creating a doubt in the mind of the Court.
  2. Whether the lower Court erred in law when it held that where an accused person is not arrested at the scene of crime denies the commission of the offence or retracts his confessional statement and there is no direct evidence of an eye witness, the prosecution must produce cogent compelling and irresistible circumstantial evidence to secure a conviction.

DECISION/HELD

In conclusion, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal by setting aside the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Kaduna delivered on 19 February 2016 and in its stead restored the judgment of the Katsina State High Court delivered on 27 April 2012.

RATIOS:

  • CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – CONVICTION: Whether where an accused person who is not arrested at the scene of crime denies the commission of the offence or retracts his confessional statement and there is no direct evidence of an eye witness, the prosecution must produce cogent, compelling and irresistible circumstantial evidence to secure a conviction
  • EVIDENCE – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT: Whether the English version of a translated confessional statement must be signed by an accused person
  • EVIDENCE – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT: Position of the law on the practice of taking an accused person along with his statement to a superior police officer
  • EVIDENCE – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT: Whether the English translation of a confessional statement is the secondary evidence of the original version
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lawpavilion • May 21, 2019


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