CHARLES EGBIRIKA VS THE STATE

AREA OF LAW

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE-DEFENCE OF ACCIDENT, APPEAL- GROUNDS OF APPEAL, LAW OF EVIDENCE-STANDARD OF PROOF, INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES

SUMMARY OF FACTS:

The Appellant was arraigned and convicted at the trial court on a single count of manslaughter contrary to Section 235 of the Criminal Code Law Cap. 29 Laws of Ogun State of Nigeria 1978. Dissatisfied with the judgment of trial court the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal and the Court affirmed the decision of the trial court. The Appellant has further appealed to this court.

HELD

Appeal dismissed

ISSUES:

Whether the prosecution proved a case of manslaughter against the appellant sufficient to warrant a conviction by the trial court? (Ground 1 & 2)

RATIOS:

MANSLAUGHTER- DEFINITION OF THE TERM “MANSLAUGHTER”

“In Ejeka V. The State (2003) 7 NWLR (Pt.819) 408 @ 423 F, this court per Tobi, JSC held: “Manslaughter is an unintentional killing of a human being. Such a killing is not pre-meditated but accidental, in the sense that it was not intentional.” PER KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C

DEFENCE OF ACCIDENT-AT WHAT POINT WILL AN EVENT OR AN ACT COMMITTED BE DEEMED ACCIDENTAL

“Negligent act of the appellant in this case can be inferred from the prevailing circumstances. The learned trial Judge rightly inferred negligence in the act of the appellant who shot the deceased who was retreating. The Court below at page 133 of the record agreed with the finding of the learned trial Judge in this regard. The Appellant who was in close proximity to the deceased should have uncorked his rifle, if as he stated, he had no intention to fire it. The defence of accident as raised by the appellant under Section 24 of the said Criminal Code Law of Ogun State.

States thus. “….a person is not criminally responsible for an act or omission which occurs independently of the exercise of his will or an event which occurs by accident.” Applying the objective test to this case in determining whether or not the shooting of the deceased was an accident or not, it cannot be said that the shooting of the deceased occurred independently of the exercise of the appellant’s will or by accident. In MAIYAKI v. STATE (supra) at page 204, this Court held as follows: “An event is said to be accidental when the act by which it is caused is not done with the intention of causing it and when its occurrence as a consequence of such act is not so probable that a person of ordinary prudence ought, in the circumstances in which it is done, to take reasonable precautions against it.” It is in the case of APUGO v. THE STATE (2007) 2 NCC. 32 at 41 this Court per my brother ONNOGHEN JSC, reviewed clearly the provisions of section 315 of the Criminal Code, (supra) when he held thus: “From the above provisions of Section 315 of the Criminal Code it is very clear that for a killing to amount to manslaughter it must not only be unauthorized or unjustified or not excused by Law, it must also result from the direct or indirect act of the accused person. In short the death must be caused by the unlawful act of the accused person.” PER GALADIMA, J.S.C

GROUNDS OF APPEAL- WHETHER PARTICULARS OF GROUNDS OF APPEAL CAN STAND INDEPENDENT OF THE GROUNDS OF APPEAL

“The law is settled that the particulars of a ground of appeal must not be an independent complaint from the ground of appeal itself but should be ancillary to it. Where the particulars of a ground are inconsistent with the main complaint in the ground, the particulars must be discountenanced.” PER

KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION- WHETHER MORE THAN ONE ISSUE CAN BE DISTILLED FROM A SINGLE GROUND OF APPEAL

“…it is by now well settled that the proliferation of issues for determination is always frowned upon by the appellate courts. While an issue for determination may be distilled from more than one ground of appeal, it is improper to formulate more than one issue from a single ground of appeal. A. ground of appeal must also be predicated upon the decision appealed against. As far back as 1990 this court in Egbe V. Alhaji & Ors. (1990) 1 NSCC (Vol. 21) (Part I) 306 @332 held: “Issues for determination in the appeal must be consistent and fall within the scope of the grounds of appeal filed. The issues cannot be formulated to be wider than the grounds of appeal from which they derive their existence. Indeed the grounds of appeal must relate to the decision and should be a challenge to the validity of the ratio of that decision.” Also in: Agbetoba V. Lagos State Executive Council (1991) 4 NWLR (Pt.188)664; (1991) 6 SCNJ 1 @ 12, Karibi-Whyte, JSC stated: “This court has consistently and in several decisions advised counsel formulating issues for determination arising from grounds of appeal to avoid prolixity and keep closely within the confines of the grounds of appeal relied upon. The ideal is to formulate an issue as encompassing more than one ground of appeal. It is not only undesirable but also confusing to split a ground of appeal into more than one issue. The practice of splitting grounds of appeal is likely to confuse consideration of principal issues with subsidiary issues” PER KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C

OFFENCE OF MURDER OR MANSLAUGHTER- EFFECT OF SECTIONS 315, 316 & 317 OF THE CRIMINAL CODE

“Section 315 of the Criminal Code provides: “Any person who unlawfully kills another is guilty of an offence, which is called murder or manslaughter, according to the circumstances of the case.” Section 316 sets out the circumstances in which an unlawful killing would amount to murder. Section 317 provides: “A person who unlawfully kills another in such circumstances as not to constitute murder is guilty of manslaughter.” In a review of the above provisions this court in: Apugo v. The State (2007) 2 NCC 30 @ 41 E held per Onnoghen, JSC: “From the above provisions of Section 315 of the Criminal Code it is very clear that for a killing to amount to manslaughter it must not only be unauthorised or unjustified or not excused by law, it must also result from the direct or indirect act of the accused

person. In short the death must be caused by the unlawful act of the accused person. In the case of: Uyo V. A.G., Bendel State (1986) 1 NWLR (pt.17) 418: (1986) All NLR 126 this court referred to and relied upon the dictum of the West African Court of Appeal (WACA) in R. V. Oledinma (1940) 6 WACA 202 that: “To establish a charge of murder or manslaughter, it must be proved not merely that the act of the accused could have caused the death of the deceased but that it did” The position of the law is that no matter how reckless the conduct of the accused might be, so long as the killing that resulted from his act was not intended, the act would not fall within the provision of Section 316 of the Criminal Code and therefore would not constitute murder.See: Omini V. The State (1999) 12 NWLR(pt.630) 168 @ 182 A. See also: Shosimbo v. The State (1974) All NLR 603; (1974) 10 SC 69 wherein it was held that in establishing the offence of manslaughter, it is not necessary to prove any intent to kill or do grievous bodily harm provided there is proof that the unlawful act of the accused caused some harm to the deceased, which harm caused his death. “PER KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C

STANDARD OF PROOF-ON WHOM LIES THE BURDEN OF PROVING ITS CASE BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT AGAINST THE ACCUSED

“The duty of the prosecution is to establish its case against the accused person beyond reasonable doubt as enjoined by Section 135 (1) of the Evidence Act 2011 (as amended). Section 135 (3) of the Act provides that if the prosecution proves the commission of a crime beyond reasonable doubt, the burden of proving reasonable doubt shifts to the defendant. The position of the law is that the legal burden of proving its case against the accused person beyond reasonable doubt rests squarely on the prosecution and never shifts. However the burden of introducing evidence on an issue, known as the evidential burden, may be placed by law on either the prosecution or the defence depending on the facts and circumstances of the case. See: Esangbedo V. The State (1989) NWLR (Pt.113) 57 @ 69 – 70 H – A.; Woolmington V.D.P.P. (1935) A.C. 462. Where the evidential burden placed on a party in respect of a particular issue is not discharged, the issue would be resolved against the party without much ado.” PER KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C

TAINTED WITNESS- THE MEANING OF TAINTED WITNESS

“It has been held that a tainted witness is a witness who may or may not be an accomplice but who by the evidence he gives (whether as witness for the prosecution or for the defence) may be regarded as having some purpose of his own to serve.” PER KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C

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KAYODE BABARINDE & 2 ORS VS THE STATE

SUBJECT MATTER

 CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE, LAW OF EVIDENCE, COURT

TRIAL WITHIN TRIAL-PURPORT OF

CONSPIRACY-MEANING OF-HOW PROVED

CRIMINAL CONSPIRACY-NATURE OF PROOF REQUIRED

IDENTIFICATION PARADE-WHEN NOT NECESSARY

EVIDENCE OF A SINGLE WITNESS-WHEN SUFFICIENT TO GROUND A CONVICTION

CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACTS BY LOWER COURTS-ATTITUDE OF APPELLATE COURT-WHEN CAN INTERFERE THEREWITH

ARMED ROBBERY-WHAT THE PROSECUTION MUST PROVE TO SECURE A CONVICTION

WITNESSES-WHETHER A PARTY IS BOUND TO CALL EVERY AVAILABLE WITNESS

CONTRADICTIONS-NATURE OF CONTRADICTION THAT WILL BE FATAL TO THE PROSECUTIONS CASE”. PER KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE-EKUN JSC

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ARC AMINU DABO v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

SUBJECT MATTER

CRIMINAL LAW, INTERPRETATION OF STATUTES, APPEAL

“All the appeals were assigned different appeal numbers. This was unnecessary since the appellants were convicted on the same charges and on the same set of facts. In fact the same record was used for each of the appeals. What the law stipulates is that each appellant should file a separate Notice of Appeal”. Per KUMAI BAYANG AKA’AHS, JSC

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ALHAJI ZANNA MAIDERIBE v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

SUBJECT-MATTER

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE- INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE-CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

OFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY- WHEN OFFENCE OF CONSPIRACY CAN BE SAID TO HAVE BEEN ESTABLISHED

ELEMENT OF AN OFFENCE- EFFECT OF FAILURE TO PROVE AN ELEMENT NOT CONTAINED IN THE LAW CREATING THE OFFENCE

INTERPRETATION OF STATUTE – EFFECT OF SECTION 36 (8) 1999 OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

“Section 36(8) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 which states – No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed.” PER MAHMUD MOHAMMED, JSC

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ALHAJI ABDULLAHI AMINU TAFIDI V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

SUBJECT MATTER

CRIMINAL LAW, LAW OF CONTRACT, CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

INTENTION TO DEFRAUD-ON WHOM LIES THE ONUS TO PROVE AN OFFENCE AS CHARGED WHERE INTENTION TO DEFRAUD IS MADE AN ELEMENT OF THE OFFENCE IRRESPECTIVE OF THE STATUTE CREATING THE OFFENCE

RIGHT TO FAIR HEARING-THE PROVISIONS OF THE 1999 CONSTITUTION AS IT RELATES TO PRESUMPTION OF INNOCENCE AND AN OFFENCE BEING PRESCRIBED IN A WRITTEN LAW

CONTRACT SPLITTING- THE CONCEPT OF CONTRACT SPLITTING; WHETHER ANY CONDUCT WHICH CARRIES A SANCTION OF IMPRISONMENT MUST EXPRESSLY BE STATED IN A WRITTEN LAW

 “Contract splitting which formed the basis of the offences charged was unknown to law at the material time. The Public Procurement Act which made contract splitting an offence punishable with a term of imprisonment was enacted into law by the National Assembly in 2007 long after the appellant had ceased to be a member of the Nigerian Ports Authority. The Act was not made to take retrospective effect. Even if this was the case it would have been contrary to section 36(8) of the Constitution. Counts 59, 60, 61, 64, 65 and 67 therefore constituted a gross violation of section 36(12) Constitution. Apart from this, it amounted to duplicity of charge the appellant for abuse of office and at same time to accuse him of disobedience to lawful order and also to be found guilty of Conspiracy to disobey lawful order which were all manifested in the splitting of the contracts. Sections 104 and 203 of the Criminal Code are at variance with Section 36(12) of the Constitution. They are therefore unconstitutional and are hereby declared null and void. The charge filed under Sections 104 for abuse of office, 203 for disobedience to lawful order and 517 for Conspiracy to disobey Lawful Order ostensibly for contract splitting in disobedience of lawful order by constituted authority cannot stand. The interpretation of a penal legislation or any statute for that matter should not be left to the whims and caprices of the Judge called upon to interpret the legislation. Any conduct which carries a sanction of imprisonment must be expressly stated in a written law and not left to conjecture or inference by the court.” Per AKA’AHS, JSC  

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ENGINEER SULE ALIYU VS FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

SUBJECT-MATTER

CRIMINAL LAW, LAW OF EVIDENCE

OFFENCES-DUTY OF PROSECUTION TO PROVE SAME

CRIMINAL TRIAL-NEED FOR OFFENCE TO BE KNOWN TO LAW

“The position of the law is that the prosecution must prove the offences as charged irrespective of the provisions of the statute creating the offence. Since the prosecution in this case made “intention to defraud” an element of the offence charged they must go ahead to prove by evidence that element. The prosecution cannot be heard to state otherwise”. PER M. S. Muntaka-Coomassie, jsc

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CAPTAIN O. ABIDOYE VS THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

CRIMINAL LAW, EVIDENCE LAW, COURT

INGREDIENT OF AN OFFENCE-DUTY OF PROSECUTION THERETO CHARGE-AMENDMENT OF-DUTY OF COURT THERETO

ELEMENT OF AN OFFENCE-EFFECT OF INCLUSION OF ELEMENTS INTO PARTICULARS NOT REQUIRED BY LAW CREATING THE OFFENCE

ACCUSED PERSON-WHETHER COMPELLED TO GIVE EVIDENCE AT HIS TRIAL

CHARGE-EFFECT OF MISTAKE IN PARTICULARS OF OFFENCE-NATURE OF ELEMENTS/INGREDIENTS WHICH CONSTITUTES THE OFFENCE CHARGED

DUTY OF COURT -IN CONSIDERING WHETHER A CASE HAS BEEN PROVED

CRIMINAL OFFENCE-WHEN AN ACT OR OMISSION CONSTITUTES AN OFFENCE

WRITTEN LAW- MEANING OF

 “In deciding whether or not the prosecution proved its case, the Court has to consider the totality of the evidence adduced for and against the accused person”. PER NGWUTA, JSC

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CHIEF OLABODE GEORGE vs. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA

SUBJECT MATTER

CRIMINAL LAW, INTERPRETATION OF ISSUES

STARE DECISIS -PURPORT OF STARE DECISIS-IMPROPRIETY OF A LOWER COURT’S FAILURE TO FOLLOW THE DECISION OF A SUPERIOR COURT

 ELEMENT OF AN OFFENCE -EFFECT OF FAILURE TO PROVE

 “It is not proper to refuse to follow the decision of a superior court. A lower court should tow the line”. PER JOHN AFOLABI FABIYI, JSC

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SEGUN AJIBADE V THE STATE

SUBJECT-MATTER

CRIMINAL LAW

LAW OF EVIDENCE

CONSTITUTIONAL LAW

FAIR HEARING

CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – POWER OF COURT TO CONVICT ON VOLUNTARY STATEMENT OF AN ACCUSED

FAIR HEARING-GUIDING PRINCIPLES OF FAIR TRIAL

CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – STATUS WHEN ADMITTED WITHOUT ANY OBJECTION

Where a confessional statement is therefore admitted without any objection the irresistible inference is that same was made voluntarily and a court can rightly convict on the basis of admission contained therein.” PER CLARA BATA-OGUNBIYI, JSC

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MUSA IKARIA V THE STATE

SUBJECT-MATTER

CRIMINAL LAW

LAW OF EVIDENCE

PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT- CONDITIONS

PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT-WHAT THE PROSECUTION MUST ESTABLISHED

PROOF BEYOND REASONABLE DOUBT-DUTY OF THE PROSECUTION TO ADDUCE QUALITY EVIDENCE TO DISCHARGED ITS BURDEN

It is trite that the law requires the respondent to prove its case against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt. The quality of evidence the respondent adduces invariably determines if that burden has been discharged. Once the burden has discharged, concurrent findings holding otherwise, being perverse, on review on a further appeal would be interfered with and set-aside.” PER MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD, JSC