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SC 186/69


SULU LIADI ............................................... APPELLANT


THE STATE ..................................................... RESPONDENT

BEFORE: Ademola C.J.N, Madarikan and Udoma, JJ.S.C.


Criminal Law-Homicide-Murder-Jury-Summing up-Trial judge failing to leave issues of facts to jury to determine-Effect.

Appeal from the High Court (Lagos).



Having examined the summing up in this case, the Supreme Court was unable to say that the trial Judge left the issues of fact to the jury to determine. Consequently the conviction could not be allowed to stand.


Appeal allowed: judgment and verdict of High Court set aside: judgment and verdict of acquittal entered.

APPEAL from the High Court (Lagos).

Cole for the appellant.

Bada, (Director of Public Prosecutions), for the respondent.


Ademola, C.J.N. (delivering the judgment of the court)-The appellant has appealed against his conviction for murder and the sentence of death passed on him in the Ikeja High Court on 10th July, 1969. He was tried by Beckley, J. with a jury.

The facts recorded against the appellant are briefly as follows-He, as well as the deceased, lived in a village known as Ojo. They were both married and were first cousins. They lived in the same village and are neighbours. The deceased, it would appear, paid attention to the appellant's wife. According to the appellant he had made a report about this to their people: the deceased had been warned but he would not desist. There appears to be no evidence of this report or of the warning. On the afternoon of the 8th May, 1968, the deceased's wife and her sister were making mats under a tree in the village. The deceased returned from his farm, spread a mat under the tree and went to sleep. About two hours the appellant returned home, went straight to the deceased where he was lying and inflicted serious hatchet wounds on him. He was carried to the General Hospital in Lagos where he died soon afterwards. Meanwhile the appellant ran away from the village. The wounds on the deceased were described by the doctor as follows: deep oblique incised wounds across both palms, cutting off the index and the middle fingers; an incised wound measuring 5 inches by 3 inches by 1 inch across the left jaw, reaching the neck and cutting off the blood arteries of the neck; an incised wound behind the right elbow with exposure of the bone; and an incised wound 5 inches by 3 inches by 1 inch behind the right knee. In the opinion of Doctor Akinlade who performed the post mortem examination, the deceased died as a result of these multiple wounds.

Five days after the incident the appellant turned up in the village and was arrested. In his statement to the police he admitted inflicting these wounds on the deceased because he was carrying on with his wife and would not give up. He retracted however in the court below and stated that everybody who gave evidence against him told lies. He said he was away from the village when the deceased met his death. The appellant called no witnesses to prove his alibi.

Arguing the appeal before us, Mr Cole for the appellant based his argument mainly on error on the part of the judge in directing the jury to believe the evidence of witnesses for the prosecution; that he (the judge) failed to leave the facts to the jury. Mr Bada, Director of Public Prosecutions, for the prosecution found it difficult to support the conviction on this score.

We have examined the summing up in the hope that we might find some redeeming features in some parts of the summing up which would clear our minds that the learned trial Judge did not completely relieve the jury of the responsibility of forming their own view or that there was no danger of the jury being over awed by the summing up; but, regretfully in what might otherwise have been a straightforward case against the appellant, we are unable to say that the learned judge left the issues of facts to the jury to determine.

In our consideration of this matter we have to refer to two of the directions given by the learned trial Judge. This is what he said to the jury-

"you have to decide which of these two sides have told you the truth. May I remind you, however, that all the witnesses for the prosecution are consistent throughout and I am not in doubt that you will accept the evidence of the prosecution witnesses as the truth. They all appear to be credible witnesses."

In the penultimate paragraph of the summing up as recorded, the learned trial Judge said-

"The case made out for the prosecution has established, members of the jury, that Ayuba Adamo is dead. It has been established that he was hatchetted while he was asleep and it has also been established that it was the accused who killed Ayuba Adamo. You will now retire to consider your verdict."

With these directions we wonder what other verdict the jury was expected to return.

It is obvious in the circumstances that we cannot allow this conviction to stand. We allow the appeal, set aside the judgment and verdict and we hereby order that a judgment and verdict of acquittal be entered. The appellant is discharged.

Appeal allowed: judgment and verdict of High Court set aside: judgment and verdict of acquittal entered.