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Rex V. Ajege & Kigbo (1936) LJR-WACA

Rex V. Ajege & Kigbo (1936)

LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal

Convictions for murder—Hearsay evidence and alleged confessions Appealwrongly admitted —Accused improperly taken to locus in fromhopes of obtaining admission of guilt—Convictions quashed.

It is not necessary to set out the facts of this case.Court.

Appellants in person.

A. R. W . Sayle for Crown.

The following judgment was delivered


This is an appeal from two convictions for murder. The prisoners were tried at Wombs in the Kaduna Judicial Division by the Assistant Judge on July 12th, 13th and 14th. There was only a nominal prosecutor and no counsel assisted the prisoners. The killing took place in a remote district and the circumstances of the killing were investigated by the local chief. At the trial this man was called to give evidence, and was permitted to give a synopsis of his investigation including statements made to him by a number of people in the absence of the accused.

The learned trial Judge in his judgment states that, ” this was of advantage to the accused as it served to remind them of what the case against them was going to be “. A reason for admitting evidence which was clearly inadmissible this Court cannot accept, and whilst it is true these persons were subsequently called and their testimony properly accepted, it is impossible for us to believe that the learned trial Judge in coming to his conclusion, could entirely divorce from his mind the effect of these statements given inadmissibly in the first instance.

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It is also clear from the evidence of this chief that on several occasions after their arrest both prisoners were questioned by him and their answers admitted in evidence although no caution was administered; the learned trial Judge was wrong in receiving this evidence, and its reception is sufficient to quash both convictions. Moreover the prisoner Ajege subsequent to his arrest upon a charge of murder, was taken to the locus in quo by the chief and the District Officer, in the hopes of obtaining an admission from him—this was entirely wrong and contrary to every principle of British

At the preliminary inquiry the prisoner Ajege made a

v•statement which was admitted in evidence at the trial and the

Ajege and learned trial Judge seems to have put considerable reliance upon Kigboit in giving his judgment.

Yates,It is necessary therefore to enquire into what was operating

Acting C.J. in the prisoner’s mind, when lie made it, and that conclusion we think can be arrived at from the following passages in. Ajege’s evidence :—

” I was 21 months under arrest all the time I denied having anything to do with it (the killing).

Then one day he said he was the District Head and if I told him the truth he would release me. I said. I cannot tell a lie just to be released.

Then another day he said, if I told the truth he would send to District Officer, and tell him I should be released and be rewarded, he even offered me halfpenny to buy food, I refused and so was handcuffed again, and locked up.

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Then again I was asked, and told a lie against the other three and said that together with them we had killed the man—that was when I was given the halfpenny to buy food—but I told a lie against them all because of the halfpenny I had been given. Then he told me he would take me next day to the District Officer to repeat that, and I should be released. Next day I was taken to the District Officer and repeated that; but I was not released but put in chain and locked up in the police guard.

All the time I was waiting to be released because of what I had

said—as the District Head said I should be released.”

The prisoner was then brought before the Court at the preliminary inquiry and made the so-called confession. It is clear to our minds that in making this statement or confession, the prisoner was actuated by the promise of favour he had received from the District Head, and therefore although its admissibility in evidence cannot be questioned, its value must be regarded as negligible and certainly not sufficient to justify a conviction in the absence of more direct evidence to connect the appellant with the crime.

For the above reasons this Court is of opinion that the appeals should be allowed and the convictions are therefore quashed.

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