EVIDENCE – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – Position of the law on the admissibility or otherwise of confessional statements


“In all criminal cases before a Court of law in this country, there are always two sides: the case for the Prosecution and the case for the defence. Consequently, regardless of where or in what manner an accused person makes his statement to the Police or other law enforcement agents, the attitude of the Courts towards it remains the same. It comes to this. It is a part of the case for the Prosecution, whether or not it is a confessional statement and whether or not the accused person challenges it during the trial, Egboghonome v State (1993) 7 NWLR (pt. 306) 383. The question of its admissibility is a separate issue entirely. Now, on the issue of admissibility, two factors can affect the admissibility of a confessional statement, that is, where the confessional statement has been found not to be voluntarily made or where the contents of the confessional statement are retracted by its alleged maker. In the former, where an objection is raised, the proper action to take by the Courts is to suspend the substantive suit and immediately commence the conduct of a trial-within-trial to determine the voluntariness or non- voluntariness of the confessional statement. Whereas, in the latter case, the confessional statement can still be admitted and the issue will go to the evaluation of the statement and the ascription of probative value to be placed on same, Kanu v King (1952) 14 WACA 30; Idowu v State 12 NWLR (pt. 680) 48; Mumuni v State (1975) 6 SC 79; Galadima v State (2012) LPELR – 15530 (SC). The proper time to raise objection on any of these grounds in at the point it is being tendered, Oseni v State (2012) 2 M. J. S. C (pt 11) 98; Effiong v The State (1998) 5 SCNJ 158, 166; Gbadamosi v The State (1992) 9 NWLR (pt 266) 465, 480; Afolalu v State 3 NWLR (pt 11270) 160, 193; Alarape v The State (2001) 5 NWLR (pt 705) 79; Mbang v The State (2009) 8 NWLR (pt 1170) 140; Okaroh v State (1990) 1 NWLR (pt 125) 136. In the instant case, the confessional statements, exhibits 2, 2A and 7 of the appellant were tendered by the Prosecution. They were admitted in evidence without any objection on any of the aforementioned grounds. It was during trial that the appellant made, as submitted by learned counsel to the respondent and which I so hold, a belated attempt to impeach the voluntariness of exhibits 2, 2A and 7. This, in my opinion could not avail the appellant at this point, Oseni v State (supra); Effiong v The State (supra); Gbadamosi v The State (supra); Afolalu v State (supra); Alarape v The State (supra); Mbang v The State (supra); Okaroh v State (supra).” Per CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE, JSC in AKINKUNMI v. STATE (2022-LCER-46533-SC) (Pp 9 – 11; Paras C – C)

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