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Robert Ugiakha V The State (1984) LLJR-SC

Robert Ugiakha V The State (1984)

LawGlobal-Hub Lead Judgment Report

BELLO, J.S.C. 

For no apparent reason the appellant cut a girl of 10 years old with a matchet and she died as the result. The defence of the appellant was that he did not know what he was doing when he was cutting the girl but that when he realised what he had done he ran away.

The learned trial judge in his judgment exhaustively considered the defence of insanity and from the evidence before him found the defence not proved. He convicted the appellant of murder. The Court of Appeal affirmed the conviction. At the hearing of the appeal before us learned counsel for the appellant and the Deputy Solicitor-General of Bendel State for the respondent found nothing useful to urge in favour of the appellant.

I am satisfied the appeal has no merit. It is accordingly dismissed. I affirm the conviction and sentence.

OBASEKI, J.S.C.: This is a murder appeal from the judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal. The appellant made a confessional statement both to the police and in the court and the only defence he set up was that he had a black out at the time he killed the girl, Osarumwese Uwaigbe with a matchet. Mere absence of any evidence of motive for a crime is not sufficient ground upon which to establish mania. The onus in this case was on the appellant to establish insanity by credible evidence.

The onus is not discharged by mere denial of knowledge of his own actions. See Egbe Nkanu v. The State (1980) 1 S.C.1 at 17. The evidence given by the appellant that he had a black out at the moment of striking the victim does not discharge that onus.

See also  Abu Idakwo Vs Leo Ejiga (2002) LLJR-SC

The evidence in this matter adduced by the prosecution proves beyond reasonable doubt the offence of murder and contains no redeeming feature for the appellant. To see a young girl in the street near her house, and, armed with a matchet, deal 3 mortal blows on her head without any provocation whatsoever and death ensues from the injuries, is certainly murder and I would dismiss the appeal. I agree with both counsel that there is nothing that can be urged usefully in favour of the appellant and I hereby dismiss the appeal and affirm the conviction and sentence passed by the High Court and affirmed by the Federal Court of Appeal.

ESO, J.S.C.: I agree with both learned counsel that there is nothing to urge in favour of this appellant. The appellant according to an eye witness account mercilessly dealt matchet cuts on the deceased. The appellant himself gave evidence. He was a night watchman. He said he lost his senses on the fateful day and cut “someone’s neck”. There was no plea of insanity put up on behalf of the appellant. The learned trial judge rightly in my view concluded that mere absence of any evidence of motive for a crime was not a sufficient ground to infer insanity. However the judge, again rightly in my view considered the provision of the Criminal Code dealing with insanity and also the law as regards burden of proof. He rejected the defence of blackout as amounting to insanity and found the appellant guilty of murder.

On appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal the Court (Ete, Agbaje and Okagbue, JJ.CA) as per Okagbue J.CA went thoroughly into the issue of insanity, agreed with the treatment of the issue of insanity by the learned trial judge and dismissed the appeal of the appellant. In this court, neither counsel could urge anything in favour of the appellant.

See also  Taiye Oshoboja V. Alhaji Surakatu I. Amuda & Ors. (1992) LLJR-SC

I have gone through the record thoroughly myself and I am satisfied that the possible defence of insanity has been exhaustively treated by the two lower courts. The defence of blackout will not suffice the appellant. It is indeed a dastardly murder and the appeal is hereby dismissed. The judgment of the Court of Appeal is hereby affirmed.

NNAMANI, J.S.C.: The learned counsel to the appellant has rightly submitted in his brief and before this Court that there is nothing in law that can be urged in favour of the appellant. This was a clear case of a cold-blooded and dastardly murder of a young girl of ten. The appellant’s defence was substantially in these words “then I lost my senses and I started to dance with cutlass. Then I cut the sides of the deceased neck. I did not know what I was doing”.

The learned trial judge properly evaluated the evidence and duly considered the only possible defence available to the appellant i.e. insanity and properly rejected it. The Federal Court of Appeal again considered the entire case and came to the same conclusion that the case of the appellant lacked merit.

It dismissed the appeal. Having read through the record of proceedings I too see no merit in the appeal and I hereby dismiss it. The judgment of the Federal Court of Appeal, Benin Judicial Division, dated 9th December, 1980 is hereby affirmed.

UWAIS, J.S.C.: I agree with both learned counsel for the appellant and the respondent that there is nothing useful that can be urged in favour of the appellant. The deceased died from matchet wounds which she received from the appellant. There was an eye-witness to the incident and the appellant confessed in a statement to the police and in his evidence that he committed the crime. The appellant raised a defence of insanity by saying that he did not know what he was doing when he attacked the deceased. The defence was well considered by the learned trial judge who, rightly in my view, rejected it.

See also  Christopher Akhimien V. The State (1987) LLJR-SC

I accordingly agree that the appeal should be dismissed and the decision of the Federal Court of Appeal affirming the conviction of the appellant for murder should be confirmed.

Appeal dismissed.


SC.3/1981

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