CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – DEFENCE OF ACCIDENT – Conditions that must be met for the defence of accident to avail an accused person


“the Appellant raised the defence of accident, and pleaded the exculpatory words in Section 24 of the Criminal Code. I shall refer to the case which dicta seem to have been made for the case in hand, the circumstances of the defence raised by the appellant. I shall cite it for guidance. In the case of ADEGBOYE V STATE (2017) LPELR-42099 (SC), this Court held: “It is now settled that an accused person as in the instant case, cannot take refuge on a defence of accident for a deliberate act even if he did not intend the eventual result. See the case of Oghor V. The State (1990) 3 NWLR (pt. 139)484 at 502. The test of the plea or defence of accident is always that if the act even though unlawful is not such that would from the view of a reasonable man, cause death or grievous bodily harm though death resulted therefrom, the person charged can only, at most be convicted of manslaughter. See the case of Thomas V. The State (1994) 4 SCNJ (pt.1)102 at 109, (1994)4 NWLR (pt.337)129 per Wali, JSC. It need be stressed that the act leading to the accident must be a lawful act done in a lawful manner. Thus, for the event to qualify as accidental under Section 24 of the Criminal Code, it must be a surprise to the ordinary man of prudence, that is, a surprise to all sober and reasonable people. The test is always objective. See Ademola v The State (1998) 1 NWLR (pt.73)683 at 692-693, (1988)3 SCNJ 68, It must always be borne in mind that Section 24 of the Criminal Code does not deal with an “act” but an “event” and the event within the meaning of the section, is what apparently follows from an act ….” The applicable law here is the provision of Section 27 of the Criminal Code, Cap. 38, Vol. 2, Laws of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria, 2000 (Section 24 of the Criminal code Act). It states: “…a person is not criminally responsible for an act or omission, which occurs independently of the exercise of his will, or for an event which occurs by accident.” Per PETER-ODILI, JSC in AKPAKPAN v. STATE (2021-LCER-40459-SC) (Pp 23 – 25 Paras E – C)

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