Abdu Romo V Gwandu Native Authority (1966) LLJR-SC

Abdu Romo V Gwandu Native Authority (1966)

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ONYEAMA J.S.C.

We dismissed this appeal on the 23rd of June, 1966, and now give our reasons.

The appellant was convicted of culpable homicide punishable with death in the Emir of Gwandu’s Court and was on the 4th of August, 1965, sentenced to death; but the blood relative of the deceased in accordance with section 393 of the Criminal Procedure Code indicated that he had pardoned the appellant and did not wish the death sentence carried out.

The facts, which were not disputed, are that the appellant was engaged to work in the farm of one Garba Ganga. Later in the day, Garba Ganga sent his younger brother Amadu aged about ten years with some porridge for the appellant. The boy did not return, and in the evening a search party found him lying dead in the farm with three wounds on his head. The appellant was nowhere to be found.

He was seen later that night in the village of Dogondaji and arrested and taken to the Alkali of Jega; before the Alkali the appellant admitted that he had killed Amadu but said the killing was accidental. At his trial the appellant said that the deceased brought porridge to him at the farm, and that while he was in the farm he (the deceased) struck him twice with a stick; he said he chased the deceased and caught up with him; he said he struck the deceased on the neck with a hoe and the deceased fell; he struck him another blow with the hoe on the left side of the head and near the eye; when he saw the boy was unconscious he ran away leaving the hoe behind.

The Emir’s Court, finding that the appellant acted deliberately and without any sudden provocation and acted “mercilessly to a boy of 10,” had no difficulty in convicting him of culpable homicide punishable under section 221 (b) of the Penal Code.

The accused appealed to the High Court where the main ground was that the charge against the appellant had not been properly drafted. The High Court considered this and other grounds argued by counsel for the appellant and came to the conclusion that the appeal should be dismissed. Before us, the grounds of appeal were complaints that the evidence led was not enough to warrant conviction and that “the sentence is erroneous, too severe and unjustifiable having regard to the weight of the evidence.”

Counsel assigned to the appellant could find nothing to urge in favour of the appellant, but we invited argument on whether the appellant could be convicted of culpable homicide punishable with death in view of the charge to which he pleaded.

After hearing Mr. Akinsanya for the appellant who told us that in his view the appellant was not prejudiced and Alhaji Buba Ado for the respondent we came to the conclusion that in the circumstances of this case the conviction should be sustained.

The Emir of Gwandu charged the appellant as follows:

“I, Alhaji Haruna Emir of Gwandu charge you Abdu Romo guilty for the offence of culpable homicide on 24465 at about 1200 hours at Garba Ganga’s farm of Jandutsi you inflicted on Amadu a boy aged 10 with 3 wounds on his head with a hoe which caused to his death at a spot, therefore you are guilty under section 221(b) of the Penal Code of 1959′ and explained this charge to him to mean that he (the appellant) was “suspected that the three wounds which you inflicted on Amadu with a hoe caused his death.”

The Hausa words used were “kisan kai na laifi”-an expression which the High Court sitting on appeal and including a Sharia Court judge was satisfied was well understood by the appellant to mean capital homicide. That being so, and seeing that the evidence was overwhelming, we dismissed the appeal.

We note that the Penal Code of the North speaks of culpable homicide in section 220, and then goes on to state in section 221 that it is punishable with death in certain circumstances but with imprisonment for life under s. 224 if the circumstances fall within section 222.

The Native Courts would be well advised to expand their language and in charging a person with culpable homicide punishable with death tell him expressly that his offence is punishable with death: see for example the form of charge in Appendix B to the Criminal Procedure Code, Part B Form (I) (a) and (b) First, which relates to section 221 of the Penal Code.


Other Citation: (1966) LCN/1314(SC)

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