EVIDENCE – CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT – Whether a court can convict on a retracted confessional statement


“It is indisputably on record that the Appellant made Exhibits 2, 2A and 7 as his confessional statements to the offences charged and never objected to their admissibility when tendered, although he attempted to retract same to prove his innocence. Nevertheless, the trial Court putting all caution together convicted and sentenced him as affirmed by the lower Court. The retraction of the confessional statement by an accused person in his evidence on oath during the trial is of no moment as it does not adversely affect the situation once the Court is satisfied as to its truth and it can rely solely on the confessional statement to ground a conviction. See per Ikechi Francis Ogbuagu, JSC, in NWACHUKWU V. STATE (2007) LPELR-8075(SC) (PP. 35-36, PARAS. D-A). In the stark ignorance and foolhardiness of some offenders or accused persons doctored sometimes by their lawyers, they have the premonition in their criminal trial that it is wisdom and ingenuity for exculpation or defence to retract a statement once made, confessed or admitted. I must categorically state that whether a confessional statement is retracted or not, the Court is not an empty or resounding cymbal that responds to a sound once beaten. Whether from the Prosecution or the Defence, every case must be considered and that is the weight the Court gives to whatever is garbaged in and garbaged out by either party before it. Besides, where the accused person has been squarely fixed to a crime, as in the instant appeal, whereas the Appellant was fully identified as one of the armed robbers by both PW1 and PW2, his confessional statement must bow, be subservient and subordinate to eyewitness or direct evidence. Direct evidence establishes a fact without making any inference to connect the evidence to the fact. Thus, direct evidence proves or disproves a fact directly. See PAUL V. STATE (2019) LPELR-47386(SC) (PP. 27-28 PARAS. B). Direct evidence as that of PW1 and PW2 need no presumption, inference, collaboration or confirmation, except it is not a direct evidence properly so called. A confessional statement MAY need some collaboration or presumption to pass the test but not so with a direct evidence. Thus, the confessional statement of the Appellant in the face of the direct evidence of PW1 and PW2 cannot be worthy of consideration whether retracted or not.” Per UWANI MUSA ABBA AJI, JSC in AKINKUNMI v. STATE (2022-LCER-46533-SC) (Pp 39 – 41; Paras D – C)

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