I. T. A. Wallace-Johnson V. Rex (1936)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Convictions for Sedition—Admissibility or otherwise of certain evidence Convictionof Secretary for Native Affairs.
Held : Secretary for Native Affairs isan expert witness in respect of reaction
of people to any publication and his evidence on that point admissible, but his opinion of an article and its object not admissible. Wrongful admission of evidence of minor importance insufficient to quash convictions.
There is no need to set out the facts.
Appellant in person.
The Attorney-General (with him Howe) for the Crown. The following judgment was delivered :—
KINGDON, C. J., NIGERIA.
In this case it is sufficient to say that the words complained of are obviously seditious and that under each count all the elements going to make up the offence were duly proved.
The only possible exception that can be taken to the conduct of the trial is the admission of this evidence given by Mr. Thomas :-
” I consider the article a pretty vicious article written with the object of creating ill will between African and European. Writer had no use for European, the British Government, or the Gold Coast Government.”
and the reference to it in the Chief Justice’s summing-up to the assessors.
Mr. Thomas’s opinion of the article and its object was not evidence, though his opinion as to the effect it would have on the people of the country would be. Thus we hold that the evidence of Captain Warrington, ” The local inhabitants (the mass of the people) believe every word they see in a paper. The tendency and effect of that article would be to create an opinion hostile to the Government —and the Bills,” was rightly admitted. Both Mr. Thomas and Captain Warrington were expert witnesses in respect of the reaction of the people to any publication. As Secretaries for Native Affairs it is part of their duty to study this subject and to give expert advice upon it. The matter is one peculiarly within their own professional knowledge. We regard that small passage of Mr. Thomas’s evidence which we have held was wrongly admitted as of only minor importance and having no substantial effect on the result of the trial ; certainly not as sufficient to necessitate the quashing of
the convictions. It is true that the Chief justice refernd to it in hisvr,…,____aliacesumming-up, but the other passages of the summing-up show that he J777n had in mind and put*, the assessors, what was the real issue on the Rex. question of whether the article was seditious or not, namely was it . calculated to bring the Government of the Gold Coast into hatred. c.j.g—ri,
Apart from this we can find nothing irregular in the conduct of the trial.
The appeal therefore fails and is dismissed, and the convictions are upheld.