In a scenario where a defendant dissatisfied with the Judgment of the High Court challenged the same which was hinged on the confessions made to the Investigation Police Officer (IPO) on duty at the commissioning of the crime without any cogent evidence of the use of the weapon, was decided as enough evidence for the conviction.
A Confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime, stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime. See, SECTION 28 EVIDENCE ACT CAP E 14, LFN, 2011. It becomes relevant when the admission establishes one or all the elements of the crime charged and identifies the person who committed the offence. In the instant scenario, the commissioning of the crime had been established beyond reasonable doubt supported by the confession from the Appellant and other defendants. On the totality of the case preceding the appeal, the extra-judicial statement made by the Appellant is greatly corroborative of the Prosecution’s case. By the admission and confession of the accused, the requirement securing his conviction had been met without more.
An oral confession has laid down tests, the admission depends upon the circumstances in which it was made. A voluntary confessional statement, whether oral or written, is an admission of guilt by an accused person. It includes both judicial and extra-judicial confessions. It also includes an incriminating admission made that is not direct and positive and short of a full confession. It is thus a relevant fact, where it is proved, as in the instant scenario, an oral confession of the accused person to the IPO would be sufficient to sustain his conviction.
There is no evidence stronger than a person’s admission or confession. Such a confession is admissible. In the case of STATE V. IBRAHIM (2019) 9 NWLR (PT. 1676)137 AT 154-155 PARAS G-B, the Supreme Court held;
“A confession is an admission made at any time by a person charged with a crime, stating or suggesting the inference that he committed the crime and this includes both extrajudicial and judicial confessions. It also includes an incriminating admission made that is not direct and positive and short of a full confession. confession has also been held to be a criminal suspect’s oral and written acknowledgement of guilt, which often includes details about the crime alleged. In other words, a confession is an acknowledgement in express words by the accused in a criminal case, of the truth of the main fact charged or of some essential part of it. [Akpan v. State (2001) 15 NWLR (Pt.737) 745; Nwachukwu v. State (2002) 2 NWLR (Pt. 751) 366; Jimoh v. State (2014) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1414) 105; Onuoha v. State (1987) 4 NWLR (Pt.65) 331”
Also, it is settled law that the evidence of an IPO is direct evidence which the court can act upon in determining the guilt of the Appellant, it is not hearsay evidence. In OLAOYE v. STATE (2018) 42 WRN, 1 at 25 -26, lines 45 -10, the Supreme Court held per SANUSI, JSC:
“… Also on the quality of the testimony of PW3 who is the Investigation Police Officer which the appellant’s learned counsel called for its discountenance because according to him it is hearsay evidence. Here, I do not share the appellant’s counsel’s view that the evidence of an IPO amounts to hearsay because an IPO narrates to the court, the outcome of his investigation or enquiries or what he recovered and in the course of his duty, he must have discovered or recovered some pieces of evidence vital to the commission of the crime which trial court normally consider in arriving at a just decision one way or the other. The lower court was therefore right in refusing to discountenance the evidence adduced or given by PW3.”
Moreso, where there is cogent evidence of the use of a weapon in the commission of a crime and the cogent evidence links the accused person with the commission of the said crime, the mere non-recovery or non-tendering of the weapon at the trial, being of no consequence, cannot vitiate the conviction of the accused person for that offence on other cogent evidence. That fact alone does not entitle the accused to an acquittal when there is cogent and compelling evidence, particularly circumstantial evidence. In the instant scenario, the absence of the murder weapon is not enough to render the findings of fact in respect of the deceased by the Appellant perverse. See, ORISADIPE V. STATE (2019) 13 NWLR (PT. 1688) 24.
LEGAL TIPS is anchored by Ms CIA Ofoegbunam, an Abuja-based lawyer who is passionate about legal practice.LEGAL TIPS offers quick hints on substantive law, as well as rules of practice and procedure, and serves as a handy reference guide to lawyers, especially in court.Published on a weekly basis, the LEGAL TIPS Series is CIA’s modest contribution to legal development in Nigeria.