THE PEOPLE OF LAGOS STATE
JOSEPH SHAGBAOR IKYEGH, (JCA)) (Delivering the Leading Judgment): Consequent upon the conviction and sentence of the appellant to 7 years in prison for the offence of manslaughter contrary to section 317 of the Criminal Code Law, Cap.C17, Laws of Lagos State, 2003 (Criminal Code) by the High Court of Justice of Lagos State (the court below), the appellant brought the present appeal challenging the said judgment.
In summary, the case against the appellant at the court below was that he pushed the deceased from a moving motor vehicle where the deceased fell to the ground and was run over by the moving motor vehicle which led to the death of the deceased the same fateful day. It happened that the deceased had boarded the motor vehicle where the appellant served as conductor or assistant of the driver. The deceased was in the company of the PW1 at the material time. They paid the fare to the appellant. The appellant was to give them balance of N40. He told them he had given another passenger, a woman, her balance of the fare with the deceaseds own for both of them to share as they were disembarking at the same destination. The deceased and the PW1 did not agree with the arrangement. They demanded for their own balance of N40 at the point of dropping. While the PW1 had come down from the motor vehicle, the deceased stayed in the motor vehicle to get the balance of the money from the appellant. The appellant then told the driver of the motor vehicle, the DW1, to drive on. The DW1 drove on. The deceased held the appellants shirt. The appellant then pushed the deceased off the moving motor vehicle to the ground where the rear tyre of the moving motor vehicle ran down on the deceased who died on the way to the hospital on the same day from the injury caused by the moving motor vehicle.
The appellants case was that the deceased had disembarked from the motor vehicle and was pursuing it when he was knocked down by the moving motor vehicle. The appellants case therefore denied the assertion of the respondent that the appellant pushed the deceased from the moving motor vehicle.
The court below accepted the version of the respondent upon which it convicted the appellant for manslaughter and sentenced him to seven (7) years in prison. Dissatisfied with the conviction and sentence the appellant filed a notice of appeal with six (6) grounds of appeal from which the following issues for determination were framed per the brief of argument filed on 23-09-14:-
i. Whether the prosecution has proved the case beyond reasonable doubt before the court to sustain the conviction of the Defendant for the offence of manslaughter. (See grounds 1 and 4 of the Notice of Appeal).
ii. Whether the judgment of the court which convicted the Appellant (Defendant) is based on logic, proven facts and evidence. (See ground 2 of the Notice of Appeal).
iii. Whether the contradiction of the testimony of the prosecution witnesses (PW1 and PW2) is caught by the inconsistency rules. (See ground 3 of the Notice of Appeal).
iv. Whether Exhibit A, D and E are confessional statement compelling without corroboration to justify the conviction of the Appellant. (See Ground 5 of the Notice of Appeal).
v. Whether the PW1 (Mr. Madubia Ameachi) is a tainted witness that could be believed by the Honourbale Court to justify the conviction of the Defendant. (See ground 6 of the Notice of Appeal).
Citing section 135(1) of the Evidence Act 2011 (Evidence Act) and the cases of Ugwuanyi v. F.R.N. (2010) 14 NWLR (pt.1213) 409, Oteki v. A.-G., Bendel State (1988) 2 NWLR (pt.24) 650, Bakare v. State (1987) 1 NWLR (pt.52) 579, Alabi v. State (1993) 7 NWLR (pt.307) 523, Anyanwu v. State (2012) 16 NWLR (pt.1326) 260, Nwaturuocha v. State (2011) 6 NWLR (pt.1242) 188, Uchegbu v. State (1993) 8 NWLR (pt.309) 89, Ojie v. State (1972) 1 ANLR (pt.2) 385 at 388, The Queen v. Isa (1961) 1 ANLR 668, The Queen v. Obiaja (1962) ANLR 651 at 658, the appellant argued on the first issue (supra) that the evidence adduced by the respondent through PW1 and PW2 at the court below lacked the requisite degree of certainty of the guilt of the appellant and did not prove beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased died by the unjustifiable act of the appellant as required by section 317 of the Criminal Code; and that from Exhibits C, D and E, the police investigation report, and the evidence of the appellant as well as the evidence of the PW2 elicited under cross-examination which was consistent with the innocence of the appellant, the appellant should have been entitled to a discharge and an acquittal by the court below.
Citing the cases of Stephen v. State (1986) 12 SC 450 at 504 506, Onuoha v. State (1988) 3 NWLR (pt.83) 460 at 475 476, Onafowokan v. State (1987) 3 NWLR (pt.61) 540 at 548, Willie John v. State (1967) N.M.L.R. 101, Aigbe v. State (1976) 9 10 S.C. 77, Ejelikwu v. State (1993) 7 NWLR (pt.307) 583, Oyeyemi v. Irewole Local Government (1993) 1 NWLR (pt.270) 476, Ogboru v. Uduaghan (2012) 11 NWLR (pt.1311) 385, Barisha v. P.D.P. (2013) 6 NWLR (pt.1349) 141 and section 245 of the Criminal Procedure Act (C.P.A.), the appellant contended on the second issue that the judgment of the court below is bad in that it does not contain the point(s) for determination, the decision of the court below on the point(s) for determination and the reason(s) for the decision and that had the court below properly evaluated the totality of the evidence it would have come to the conclusion that the defence of negligence and volenti non-fit injuria advanced by the appellant to the effect that the deceased ran after the moving vehicle which hit him availed the appellant and created the doubt whether the act of the appellant led to the death of the deceased.
Relying on the cases of Adelumola v. State (1988) NWLR (pt.73) 683 at 691, Abasi v. State (1992) NWLR (pt.260) 383 at 397, Emoga v. State (1997) 9 NWLR (pt.519) 37, Theophilus v. State (1996) 1 NWLR (pt.423) 155, Okonji v. State (1987) 1 NWLR (pt.52) 662 and sections 214(1) and 223 of the Evidence Act, the appellant contended on the third issue that the written statement made by the PW1 to the police which is in page 6 of the record of appeal (the record) contradicted the PW1s evidence in pages 65 67 of the record on how the deceased met his death, consequently it was urged that the court below should have rejected their evidence and given the appellant the benefit of the doubt.
Relying on section 28 of the Evidence Act and the cases of Gira v. State (1996) 6 NWLR (pt.443) 375, Liya v. State (1998) 2 NWLR (pt.538) 397, Kanu v. The King 14 WACA 30, Rabiu v. State (2010) 10 NWLR (pt.1201) 160 161, Akran v. State (1992) 6 NWLR (pt. 248) (no pagination), Mustapha v. State (2007) 12 NWLR pages 656 - 657, Ntaha v. State (2007) 12 NWLR 4 SC 1, Ogunbanyo v. State (2007) 8 NWLR (pt. 1035) 157 and Ahmed v. Nigerian Army (2011) 1 NWLR pages 112 133, the appellant contended on the fourth issue that having regard to the fact that the court below had sustained the objection to the admissibility of the appellants confessional statement to the police vide page 74 of the record, the court below was wrong to rely on the said confessional statement to convict the appellant, moreso, the court below failed to test the truth of the confessional statement with other facts which had been ascertained and had been proved before it vide pages 72 and 76 of the record, consequently, it was urged that the court below was wrong in acting on the uncorroborated confessional statement.
Citing the cases of Mbenu v. State (1988) 3 NWLR (pt. 84) 615, lortim v. State (1997) 2 NWLR (pt. 490) 729 730, Moses v. State (2006) 11 NWLR (pt. 992) 488 at 504 the appellant contended on the fifth issue that the role of the PW1 in the case vide his evidence in pages 65 68 of the record was that of a tainted witness and his evidence should have been treated with caution by the court below, all the more so the PW1s evidence on how the deceased met his death was contradicted by the evidence of the PW2 and that the court below speculated when it held that any reasonable person would insist to collect the balance of his money in the circumstances of the case which speculation and conjecture led to miscarriage of justice vide Oguonzee v. State (1998) 5 NWLR (pt. 551) 555 at 564; upon which the appellant urged that the appeal be allowed and the judgment of the court below set aside in consequence.
The respondents brief of argument identified these issues for determination:
i. Whether in the circumstances of this case of Honourable Court was right in holding that the Prosecution has discharged the onus of proof placed on it by law with regard to the offence of Manslaughter for which the Appellant was convicted.
(Distilled from Ground 1,2 and 4 of the Notice of Appeal).
ii. Whether the judgment of the lower court is based on logic, proven facts and evidence..
(Distilled from Ground 2 of the Notice of Appeal).
iii. Whether the alleged contradiction in the testimony of the Prosecution witnesses (PW1 & PW2) is caught by the inconsistency Rules.
(Distilled from Ground 3 of the Notice of Appeal).
iv. Whether Exhibits A, D and E are confessional statement compelling corroboration to justify the conviction of the Appellant.
(Distilled from Ground 5 of the Notice of Appeal).
v. Whether the PW1 (Mr. Ameachi Madubia) is a tainted witness that could be believed by the lower court to justify the conviction of the Appellant.
(Distilled from Ground 6 of the Notice of Appeal).
The respondent argued that the evidence of PW1 and PW2 together with Exhibit C, the medical report, proved beyond reasonable doubt that the death of the deceased in circumstances that amounted to Manslaughter under section 317 of the Criminal Code read with the cases of Audu v. State (2003) NWLR (pt. 820) 516 at 554, Nwankwo v. F.R.N. (2003) 4 NWLR (pt. 809) 1 at 35 36, Udosen v. State (2005) NWLR (pt. 928) 587, Hassan v. State (2001) 6 NWLR (pt. 709) 286, Adesola v. Abidoye (1999) 10 12 S.C. 109, R.V. Oledima (1940 1944) 6 WACA 202, Odade and Ors. v. State (1991) 6 NWLR (pt. 198) 435 at 444 and Queen v. Layiwola (1964) WRNLR 77 at 78.
The respondent referred to pages 118 120 of the record and the documentary evidence to contend that the court below properly assessed the evidence before it and gave reasons for the decision it reached against the appellant which constitutes a good judgment and that Exhibit C was admitted in evidence without objection vide page 75 of the record, therefore the court below was right in relying on the it alongside Exhibit A and the oral evidence of the PW1 and PW2 to convict the appellant of manslaughter citing in support the cases of Kimdey v. Military Governor of Gongola (1988) 2 NWLR (pt. 77) 445, Salako v, State (2007) 4 FWLR 408, Jimoh v. Akande (2009) 5 NWLR (pt. 1135) 549 at 584, Awosika v. IGP (1968) 2 ANLR 336 at 339 340, Shurumo v. State (supra), Buba v. State (1992) 1 NWLR (pt. 215) 17.
The respondent contended that the alleged contradictions neither related to material facts that the appellant was responsible for the death of the deceased, Chinedu Eze, nor did the alleged contradictions go to the root of the case against the appellant as to destroy the evidence adduced by the respondent against the appellant at the court below citing in support the cases of Ashiriyu v. State (1987) 12 SC 62 at 70, Ekang v. State (2001) 11 NWLR (pt.723) 1 at 24, 32, Dagayya v. State (2006) 2 SCM 33 at 52, Ani v. State (2003) 11 NWLR (pt.830) 142 at 166, Obidike v. State (2001) 17 NWLR (pt.743) 601 at 627, Queen v. Ekanem (1960) 5 F.S.C. 14 at 15, Audu v. State (2003) 7 NWLR (pt.820) 516 at 516.
Reliance was placed by the respondent on Exhibit A, the appellants confessional statement to the police, where the appellant admitted he hit the deceased with his hand which caused him to fall down to the ground where the moving vehicle climbed on him to contend that the confessional statement is corroborated by the evidence of the PW1, an eye-witness as well as Exhibit C, the police investigation report, and Exhibit B, the post-mortem report, which sufficed to support the conviction and sentence of the appellant by the court below vide Akpan v. State (2001) 15 NWLR (pt.737) 745, Onyejekwe v. State (1994) 3 NWLR (pt.230) 444, Nwaebonyi v. State (1994) 5 NWLR (pt.343) 138, Dibie v. State (supra), Ojegele v. State (1998) 1 NWLR (pt.71) 144, Tanko v. State (2000) 10 NWLR (pt.114) 597 at 627, Ikemson v. State (1989) 3 NWLR (pt.110) 455, Shurumo v. State (2010) 19 NWLR (pt.1226) 39 at 19 20 and 34, Akpan v. State (1992) NWLR (pt.248) or (1992) 7 SCNJ 22 and section 27(1) of the Evidence Act.
The respondent placed reliance on the cases of Ishola v. State (1978) 9 10 SC 81 at 100 and Ogunye v. State (1995) 8 NWLR (pt.413) 333 to submit that the PW1 is not a tainted witness in that he testified to what he saw on the fateful day therefore the mere relationship of the PW1 with the deceased did not destroy his credibility and proved the case against the appellant beyond reasonable doubt vide the case of Dibie v. State (2007) 9 NWLR (pt.1038) 56 57; consequently, the respondent urged that the appeal should be dismissed and the decision of the court below affirmed.
The appellants reply brief dated 4-6-15 and filed on 5-6-15 but deemed properly filed on 27-1-16 pointed out that the record is binding on the parties and the court vide Garuba v. Omokhodion (2011) 15 NWLR (pt.1269) 180, Ogolo v. Fubara (2003) 11 NWLR (pt.831) 264, Madueke v. Madueke (2012) 4 NWLR (pt.1289) 93 95 and went on to contend that all the arguments in the respondents brief are unsupported by the record and should be disregarded.
The reply brief also pointed out that the proliferation and prolixity of issues 2 and 4 (supra) by the respondent in its reply brief is incompetent and undesirable and should not be countenanced vide the cases of Labiyi v. Anretiola (1992) 8 NWLR (pt.258) 139, Danfulani v. Shekari (1996) NWLR (pt.433) 723, Oduah v. F.R.N. (2012) 11 NWLR (pt.1310) 104.
The reply brief stated that the contradictions in the evidence of the PW1 and PW2 are material and cannot be down played therefore the evidence of the innocence of the appellant should be preferred vide Adisa v. State (1991) 1 NWLR (pt.168) 40, Anyanwu v. State (1986) NWLR (pt.43) 612, Ijeoma v. State (1990) 6 NWLR (pt.158) 567, State v. Ogunbunjo (2001) FWLR (pt.137) 1097; and that, at any rate, the events in the case are documented in Exhibit C, the police investigation report, which cannot be contradicted or controverted by oral evidence vide S.C.O.A. Nigeria Ltd. v. Bourdex Limited (1990) 3 NWLR (pt.138) 330 and Madu v. Madu (2008) 2 3 SC (pt.11) 109; therefore, it was urged that the appeal should be allowed and the conviction and sentence of the appellant quashed.
In distilling the issues for determination the respondent put ground 2 of the notice of appeal in both issues (i) and (ii) (supra) of the issues for determination. I agree with the appellant that the duplication of a single ground of appeal into more than one issue for determination is wrong and unacceptable and renders the issues afflicted with the vice incompetent. I would strike out issues (i) and (ii) (supra) accordingly. See Labiyi (supra), Danfulani (supra) and Oduah (supra).
A dispassionate look at the other issues formulated by the respondent shows that each is tied to a separate ground of appeal. The said issues are on that basis competent. A close look, however, at the issues submitted by the appellant persuades me that the appellants issues for determination are generously couched and accommodates the respondents issues for determination. I would very respectfully follow the appellants issues for the determination of the dispute in this discourse.
The PW1 was an eye-witness to the events that led to the death of the deceased. On the other hand, the PW2 was a police investigator who was not present at the time the deceased met his death. The evidence of the PW2 of what happened at the scene of crime when he was not an eye witness to the incident would be inadmissible hearsay evidence vide John Nwachukwu v. The State (1985) 3 NWLR (pt. 11) 218 at 227 thus
All that is permissible in such cases of non-sexual offences is for the police officer to give evidence of the fact that a complaint was made to him and then proceed to give evidence of what he did and saw, as distinct from what he was told which is clearly hearsay.
So in the present case only PW1, the appellant and DW1 gave evidence as eye witnesses. The evidence of the PW2 of what he did not see nor did at the time of the commission of the offence is irrelevant hearsay and was wrongly used by the appellant to compare with the evidence of the PW1 with a view to identifying alleged contradictions and discrepancies therefrom with respect to the events that led to the death of the deceased.
The linchpin of the count in the charge sheet in page 1 of the record of appeal (the record) was that the appellant unlawfully killed the deceased, Chinedu Eze, by pushing him off the motor vehicle. The evidence of the PW1 in pages 65-66 of the record was crystal clear that the appellant pushed the deceased from the moving vehicle which ran over the chest of the deceased who died on the way to the hospital from the incident on the same day. The PW1 witnessed the event from the beginning to the end. He maintained in his evidence under cross-examination in pages 67-70 of the record which the PW1 concluded in re-examination that the deceased was in the moving vehicle before he was pushed to the ground by the appellant. The PW1s evidence was therefore unshaken under cross-examination. The PW1 had earlier stated unchallenged in examination-in-chief that the deceased was not his blood relation.
The appellant sought to rely on the statement of the PW1 to the police for the purpose of contradicting PW1s testimony. The statement to the police was not tendered in evidence. For the statement to be of use in contradicting the PW1 his attention should have been drawn to it and the portion of the statement intended to use to contradict his testimony put to him and if he had denied making the statement the same should have been tendered in evidence for the purpose of contradicting him as to his credit under cross-examination vide sections 232, 233 (c) and 237 of the Evidence Act, 2011. The gamut of the evidence of PW1 from pages 65-70 of the record did not contain any question to the PW1 on his previous statement to the police, nor was the statement to the police tendered in evidence as an Exhibit for the purpose of testing the credibility and veracity of the PW1.
The appellant made heavy weather that the PW1 is blood relation of the deceased and was present at the time the event that led to the death of the deceased occurred. The PW1 had stated in examination-in-chief in page 68 of the record that the deceased was not his blood brother. The PW1 was not questioned to show if he had ulterior or ill motive to give evidence other than to tell the truth of what he witnessed on that fateful day. So the PW1 cannot be a tainted witness or a witness with interest to serve. In my view, blood relations are competent witnesses for victims of crime that are their brothers or relations vide Obidike v. State (2014) 10 NWLR (pt.1414) 53, Nkebisi v. State (2010) 5 NWLR (pt. 1188) 471, Oguonzee v. State (1998) 5 NWLR (pt. 551) 521, Amaremor v. State (2014) 10 NWLR (pt.1414) page 1, Adetola v. State (1992) 4 NWLR (pt. 35) 267, Arehia v. State (1982) 13 N.S.C.C. 85, Egwumi v. State (2013) 13 NWLR (pt. 1372) 525 at 550-551, Egbirike v. State (2014) 4 NWLR (pt.1398) 358 at 583, Ishola v. State (supra), Ogunye v. State (supra) supplied by the respondent.
The discrepancy as to the identity of the person that paid the hospital bill and the other discrepancies mentioned earlier are trivial and do not strike at the root of the case of the respondent that the deceased met his death when the appellant pushed him from a moving vehicle to the ground. These material components of the case were not contradicted, nor were any discrepancy linked to them. The alleged discrepancies or contradictions are therefore immaterial and/or inconsequential and are hereby disregarded, more so the appellant did not shake or destroy the case presented by the respondent against him at the court below vide Jeremiah v. State (2012) 14 NWLR (pt. 1320) 248 and Ilodigiwe v. State (2012) 18 NWLR (pt. 1331) page 1.
Reliance was placed on the police report as evidence for the case. Statements of witnesses in a police case file and the result of police investigation contained in the case file must be tested in open court by way of putting the relevant materials therein to a witness and/or makers of the statements for the purpose of establishing the consistency of the police case or for the purpose of demolishing the case. The admissibility of such document in evidence without allowing it to be tested under cross-examination through the makers of the statements cannot constitute the truth of what it contains as it is untested evidence vide Aigbe v. State (1976) 10 N.S.C.C. 487 at 490 (lines 25 35). Those that made the statements in the case diary should have presented themselves for cross examination on what is contained therein and attributed to them before it may become evidence in the case vide Ikaria v. State (2014) NWLR (pt. 1389) 639 to the effect that untested evidence of a witness should not be countenanced if the witness is not brought for cross-examination.
The appellants statement to the police made at Panti C.I.D. on 20-09-08 was tendered in evidence without objection and was admitted as Exhibit A. The quarrel of the appellant that the tendering of his statement to the police in evidence was objected to is unfounded. I am bound by the record of the court below vide Garuba v. Omokhodion (2011) 15 NWLR (pt. 1269) 180, Ogolo v. Fubara (2003) 11 NWL (pt. 831) 264, Madueke v. Madueke (2012) 4 NWLR (pt. 1289) 93 cited by the appellant.
From the record it is clear that this transpired in page 74 thereof-
Mr. Olateju: I like to tender in court the statement of the Defendant.
Mr. Odesanya: No objection.
Court: Statement of the Defendant made at Panti C.I.D. on the 20/09/2008 is hereby tendered and admitted as Exhibit A.
There was thus no objection to the admissibility in evidence of the appellants statement to the Police and the appellant is estopped from objecting to the procedural validity of his statement to the police, Exhibit A vide Shurumo v. State (2010) 19 NWLR (pt. 1226) 39.
The appellants statement to the police, Exhibit A, is in pages 26-27 as follows-
I of the above name and address a native of Agbojojuokikene Irori Local Government Kwara State. I was born in Agbojojuokikene in the family of Mr. and Mrs. Adisa Luckman. I attended Asaru Primary School Irori. I came to Lagos in 2001, I was staying with my friend of the above address. I started conductor work in 2002. Today being 11 day of September 2008 at about 18:55, I was coming from Iyanaoba (loco) with my driver in our commercial motor with Reg. No. B370 WEN to Mile II along Badagry express way at Agboju bus stop when discharging passengers. I have to join N60 as change to one man and a woman. The man refused collecting the money he drag me on my shirt and tear my cloth. I then kicked him to leave my cloth. It happened the driver was about moving he then fell inside the tyre and the motor climbed him. We took the man to a nearby hospital for immediate treatment which later referred us to General Hospital. On getting to General Hospital the man gave up on the way and we take him to mortuary. And come back to the police station for statement. (My emphasis).
Not having objected to the making of Exhibit A, the appellants statement to the police (supra), the fact that the appellant made the statement, Exhibit A, voluntarily would not be in doubt and the fact that the statement in Exhibit A corroborated the PW1s evidence that the appellant pushed the deceased from the moving vehicle and the deceased fell to the ground and was run over by the motor vehicle which resulted in his death on the same day borne by the autopsy report of his death in Exhibit B indicated there is nothing outside the statement in Exhibit A to show it is untrue.
Also, the said pieces of evidence corroborated the statement in Exhibit A and were tested under cross-examination and found to be true and showed the appellant had the opportunity to commit and did commit the offence charged and that the confession was possible and consistent with other facts derived from the evidence of the PW1, in particular, and the other witnesses.
Accordingly, I hold that Exhibit A (supra) is positive, direct and properly proved voluntary confession of the offence charged and is enough to rest the conviction of the appellant on it vide Dawa v. State (1980) 8 11 SC 236, Bature v. State (1994) 1 NWLR (pt.320) 267, Atano v. A.-G., Bendel State (1988) 2 NWLR (pt.75) 201, Yesufu v. State (1976) 6 SC 167 followed by the Supreme Court in Afolabi v. State (2013) 13 NWLR (pt.1371) 292 at 307 308.
Pages 107 121 of the record contain the judgment of the court below where it set out the offence charged, summarised the evidence and assessed the evidence both oral and documentary as well as the written submissions of the respective parties. It was thereafter that the court below made findings of fact in pages 118 120 of the record that the respondent proved the case beyond reasonable doubt to the effect that the deceased died; that the killing of the deceased was unauthorized or unjustified by law and that the killing resulted from the direct or indirect act of the appellant.
The court below therefore made proper perception and evaluation of the evidence before it reached the verdict in the case vide Ogundalu v. Macjacobs (2015) 8 NWLR (pt.1460) at 116 thus:
It is the duty of the trial Judge to receive all relevant evidence. That is perception. The next duty is to weigh the evidence in the context of the surrounding circumstances of the case. That is evaluation. A finding of fact involves both perception and evaluation .
From what I have stated (supra) and, albeit, in recapitulation the court below considered all the ingredients of the offence charged and evaluated the evidence in proof of each ingredient of the offence before it came to the conclusion that the case was proved beyond reasonable doubt; not beyond shadow of doubt vide Bakare v. State (1987) NSCC 267 to the effect that proof beyond reasonable doubt in a criminal trial does not mean proof beyond a shadow of doubt; for as Denning J., held in Miller v. Minister of Pensions (1947) 2 All E.R. 373, the law will fail to protect society if it admitted fanciful possibilities to deflect the tide of justice. In light of the fact that the court below performed its primary function of properly evaluating the evidence before it in the case, the judgment it arrived at cannot be said to be badly written. It was well written. It has all the attributes of a good judgment.
The court below had the exclusive opportunity of watching and hearing the witnesses in the case before it. I am satisfied that the court below made good use of the advantage it had of seeing and hearing the witnesses firsthand before it preferred the case presented by the respondent to the appellants case.
I cannot interfere with the impeccable findings of fact and/or evaluation of the evidence made by the court below which properly utilised the singular advantage of hearing and seeing the demeanour of the witnesses who testified in the case vide Obidike v. State (supra) at 74 75, Omogodo v. State (1981) 5 SC 5, Balogun v. Agboola (1974) 1 All NLR (pt.2) 66, Ebba v. Ogodo (1984) 1 SCNLR 372, Nneji v. Chukwu (1996) 10 NWLR (pt.478) 273, Akinbisade v. State (2006) 17 NWLR (pt.1007) 184, Udedibia v. State (1976) 11 SC 133.
In the conclusion, I find no merit in the appeal and hereby dismiss it and affirm the judgment of the court below (Oluwayemi, J.) together with the conviction and sentence of the appellant to prison for seven (7) years for the offence of manslaughter.
SIDI DAUDA BAGE: I have had the privilege of reading in draft the judgment just delivered by my learned brother, JOSEPHSHAGBAORIKYEGH, JCA, I agree with the reasoning and conclusion reached therein and have nothing extra to add.
In the conclusion, I too find no merit in the appeal and I also dismiss it and affirm the judgment of the court below (Oluwayemi, J.) together with the conviction and sentence of the Appellant to prison for seven (7) years for the offence of manslaughter.
YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR, JCA: I had the privilege of reading in draft the judgment delivered by my learned brother, JOSEPH SHAGBAORIKYEGH, JCA. I agree with the reasoning and conclusions arrived at in the judgment.
Let me just add that in instances as in this case where the confessional statement of the Appellant is made voluntarily, was admitted in evidence without any objection and is positive and unequivocal, it amounts to an admission of guilt. Such statement is sufficient to ground the finding of guilt and a conviction without more can be made. It is therefore immaterial that the Appellant retracted from it during the trial, see the case of THE STATE V. USMAN ISAH & OTHERS NSCQR 2012 (VOL. 52) P.27
On this and the more detailed reasons given in the lead judgment I too dismiss the appeal and abide by the consequential orders made therein.
Mr. F. B. Odesanya for the Appellant.
Mrs. E. I. Alakija (D.P.P., Lagos State) for the Respondent (with Mr. M. A. Olateju, (A.D.) and Mrs. O. A. Akin-Adesomoju (A.D.) Lagos State).