Umaru Sangara V The State (1965) LLJR-SC

Umaru Sangara V The State (1965)

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The appellant was convicted by Reed J. of culpable homicide punishable with death contra section 221 (a) of the Penal Code. The victim was a child barely 9 months old whom, it was alleged, appellant hit on the head with the Intention of causing his death.

Dimas Jida, as the child was called, was an abnormal child, and according to the evidence before the court, was very small and thin with an unusual head for a human being; it was said that he did not eat or drink but he slept all day. The appellant is an uncle to the mother of the child, and the child was causing anxiety to the whole family.

It is not in dispute that the uncle (appellant) took the child away and ft was never seen alive again. The body was later exhumed from a place by the water side where the appellant admitted burying it. The post mortem disclosed a fracture of the right parietal bone of the skull into three fragments, and according to doctor Adeoye this was suggestive of a blow on the skull of the deceased by a blunt instrument. –

The appellant, who with his sister (the deceased’s grandmother) was charged with the offence, was alleged to have made a confessional statement (Exhibit C) to the police. It is the admission of this statement in evidence by the trial judge that counsel for the appellant has attacked in this appeal.

The two additional grounds of appeal, argued with leave of the Court, and upon which counsel relied for this appeal are as follows:

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“1. That the lower court erred in law in admitting and treating Exhibit C as evidence on the face of noncompliance with the provisions of section 126 of the Criminal Procedure Law 1960.

2. That the lower court erred in law in admitting and treating as evidence Exhibit C which was obtained involuntarily from the appellant.”

We are unable to accept the submission made to us on the first ground that an additional caution must be administered by a police officer, when a suspect or an accused person who is making a statement to him after the usual caution, starts to make a confession. For this proposition, counsel relied on section 126(2) and (4) of the Criminal Procedure Code, Counsel argued that the statement (Exhibit C) Is inadmissible because the police officer (1st witness for the prosecution) who took statement Exhibit C from the appellant, after the necessary caution, did not caution him a second time when the appellant decided to make a confessional statement, before recording his statement. We are unable to read this into any sub-section of section 126 of the Criminal Procedure Code, and we must reject lt. In our view the only words of caution necessary is as stated in the schedule to the Criminal Procedure (Statements to Police Officers) Rules, 1960 made under the Criminal Procedure Code Law No. 11 of 1960.

On the second ground, k was submitted that Exhibit C could not have been a voluntary statement considering the circumstances it was made. Counsel referred to the portion of evidence of P.C. Richard Awule (1st prosecution witness), who took down the statement, which is as follows: –

“After I had returned from Sangara I went to the Ganye Prison yard to see the accused persons for their statements.”

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This, counsel argued, showed the trend of the mind of the P.C.; he was not making investigations; his main object, it was argued, was to draw out statements from the accused persons; it could not be said that such statement is voluntary and admissible in evidence. We were referred to the case R. v. Nyinya Kwaghbo 1962 N.N.L.R. 4 where Hurley C.J. held that a statement made to a policeman was inadmissible in evidence because it was clear from the evidence of the police constable that there were strong indications that he had induced the accused to make a statement.

We do not think there is any evidence in the present case to justify the suspicion that the witness P.C. Richard Awule induced the appellant to make any statement. It is clear from the record of proceedings that this witness, prior to his going to the prison yard “to see the accused persons for their statements,” had been carrying out investigations into the case and had arrested the appellant and his sister who were both kept in the prison yard whilst he pursued his investigations. Also, the appellant had earlier stated voluntarily to the police that his sister, who accused him of killing the child, had given him the child to kill. In effect confessional statements had voluntarily been made by the appellant and his sister and there was no question of inducing them. It would appear that all the policeman (1st witness for prosecution) did was to go to the prison yard, after completing his other investigations, to take down in writing statements the appellant and his sister might wish to make after their oral confessional statements.

We see nothing wrong in the conduct of the policeman in this regard. where an accused person has a genuine defence it may well be in his interest that he should be given the opportunity of putting it forward before the police have completed their investigations; if, on the other hand, an accused person prefers to reserve his defence he need suffer no prejudice from being given such an opportunity, as long as the proper caution is administered and he is made to understand that he is free to say as much or as little as he chooses.

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We are satisfied that Exhibit C complies with section 27 of the Evidence Act and there is nothing in the circumstances to show that it was not made voluntarily.

There are no other grounds of appeal nor did counsel argue that without the statement Exhibit C there is not sufficient evidence upon which the appellant could have been rightly convicted. In fact, as pointed out by the learned Director of Public Prosecutions, there is ample evidence upon which the appellant could be convicted without resort to Exhibit C. This appeal must therefore be dismissed.

Other Citation: (1965) LCN/1284(SC)

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