Rex V. Okereke Iregbu (1938)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Slave dealing contra. Section 369 of Criminal Code—Age of childAppealshould be proved—No presumption should be drawn savefromirresistibly warranted by evidence.
Held: Appeal allowed, conviction quashed, etc.
Court.There is no need to set out the facts.
C. N. S. Pollard for Crown.
Appellant in person.
The following joint judgment was delivered
KINGDON, C.J., NIGERIA, BUTLER LLOYD AI CAREY, JJ
In this case the appellant was convicted of slave dealing contrary to section 369 of the Criminal Code. Put shortly the case against him was that having arranged with the parents of a girl to marry her and having paid part dowry he was allowed to take her to Ikot-Ekpene. He returned without her and gave at least two untrue explanations of her non-return and she was never been found since. After recording his disbelief of the appellant’s stories the learned trial Judge finishes his judgment with the words ” I must presume also that this girl was taken or transferred by the accused to be held or treated as a slave.” There is no direct evidence to support the case that the girl was taken or transferred to be held or treated as a slave. It is purely a presumption math. by the Court, and we do not think it is justified.
A Court can make a presumption of this nature when it is a presumption which must irresistibly be made from the evidence. 1.6., when there is no other reasonable presumption which fits all the facts.
That is not the case here. There are other possibilities which there is nothifig to rebut. The facts, for instance, are equall. consistent with the appellant having murdered the girl or again with the girl having been accidentally drowned, and the appellaat being afraid to say so in case he should be charged with murder. The assumption that she has been sold as a slave is, in fact. only one of many which might be made to account for her disappearance.
For these reasons we think that the conviction cannot be Rex upheld. We must point out also that no plea is recorded in thev.
proceedings and that though the girl is spoken of as a child no Okereke
evidence of her age is recorded.Iregbu.
The appeal is allowed, the conviction and sentence are quashed Hingdon, and it is directed that a judgment and verdict of acquittal be C‘T*entered.
The appellant is discharged.