CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – DEFENCE OF ACCIDENT – When the defence of accident should be raised


“Under cross-examination, PW1 further testified that “when I asked the accused why he fired the motorcycle rider, he said he was confused”. The appellant at that point ought to have informed PW1 that it was an accident. This is in tune with the facts in ADEKUNLE V. THE STATE (2006) ALL FWLR (pt.332)1452; (2006) 14 NWLR (pt.1000)717, upon which the lower Court rejected the defence of accident. In ADEKUNLE’S case, the commander of the patrol team testified as PW2. The evidence of PW2 was to the effect that on hearing the gunshots while he was about 100meters away from the scene of the incident, he shouted and asked who fired the gunshots. The appellant, who the witness saw walking towards the moving bus, answered in affirmative that it was he who fired the shots. On being asked why he fired the gunshots, the appellant kept mute. At this first opportunity to raise the defence of accidental discharge, the appellant did not tell his boss PW2 that it was the gun that fell down from his shoulder and started to discharge. This earliest opportunity to raise the defence availed the appellant right at the scene of the incident. The fact that the defence was not raised instantly until much later in the appellant’s written statement Exhibit ‘A’ shows quite clearly that what the appellant raised in Exhibit ‘A’ is not a defence of accidental discharge but something else entirely that arose from his own imagination. It is no surprise therefore when the Court below rejected the defence of accident raised by the appellant in Exhibit A. See Utteh v The State (1992) 2 NWLR (pt.223) 257 at 274.” Per PETER-ODILI, JSC AKPAKPAN v. STATE (2021-LCER-40459-SC) (Pp 26 – 28 Paras F – B)

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