ISAH V. THE STATE (2017)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 15th day of December, 2017

SC.321/2012

Before Their Lordships

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
AMINA ADAMU AUGIE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria
SIDI DAUDA BAGE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

WADATA ISAH – Appellant

AND

THE STATE – Respondent

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SIDI DAUDA BAGE, J.S.C. (Delivering the Leading Judgment): This is an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division delivered on 17th May 2011, wherein the lower Court unanimously affirmed the judgement of the trial Court convicting the Appellant of the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death under Section 221 of the Penal Code.SUMMARY OF FACTS:
On 29th October, 2008, the Appellant stabbed one Hamidu Mohammed a Police Constable with a knife at the back of his neck which resulted in the death of his victim. He was arrested, investigated, charged to Court, tried and convicted for the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death contrary to Section 221 of the Penal Code.
On 22nd May, 2010 the Appellant was found guilty of the offence for which he was charged and was consequently convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. The judgement of the trial Court is laid-out on pages 45 to 70 of the Record of Appeal. Dissatisfied with his conviction, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal Sokoto Division through a Notice of Appeal dated 31st March 2010. The appeal was heard and on 11th July 2012, the Court below delivered its judgement and unanimously dismissed the appeal while affirming the conviction and death sentence of the Trial Court. The decision of the Court below is contained in pages 100 to 116 of the Record of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:
Both the Appellant and Respondent formulated one issue for determination at page 4, their respective Amended Appellant’s Brief and Amended Respondent brief both dated 5th January, 2017. To this extent, I have also formulated one issue for determination in this appeal:
“Whether the Court of Appeal was right to have upheld the conviction and sentence of the Appellant for culpable homicide under Section 221 of the Penal Code.”
CONSIDERATION AND RESOLUTION OF THE ISSUE:
The contention of the learned Counsel to the Appellant is based on the standard of proof required in criminal cases. Counsel submitted that the Appellant was not under any obligation to prove his innocence due to the presumption of innocence he enjoys under Section 36(5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Counsel referred to the case of NWANGWA Vs THE STATE (1997) 8 NWLR (Pt.517) 457 at page 463, paras. F-G and ABOKOKUYANRO VS STATE (2016) LPELR-40107 (SC).
The learned Counsel to the Appellant submitted further that the standard of proof required of the prosecution is such that the quality and quantity of evidence adduced before the trial Court must establish the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt pursuant to Section 139(1) of the Evidence Act 2011. Counsel also referred to the provisions of Section 221 of the Penal Code to show what the prosecution must establish thus:
“(a) That the death of a human being has actually taken place;
(b) That such death has been caused by the accused;
(c) That the act was done with the intention of causing death or that the accused knew or had reason to know that death will be probable and only likely consequence of his act.”

The learned Counsel to the Appellant also cited the case of GARBA VS THE STATE (2000) 6 NWLR (Pt.661) 387 at 387-388, para G-A and AFOLABI VS STATE (2016) LPELR-40300 (SC) to drive home the contention that the prosecution should have adduced credible evidence linking the Appellant with the death of the deceased. He stressed that this must be done both conjunctively and concurrently.
The learned Counsel to the Appellant also contended that the Medical Report relied upon in convicting the Appellant violated the requirement of the Section 249(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code to the extent that a written report by any medical officer registered medical practitioner may at the discretion of the Court be admitted in evidence for the purpose of proving the nature of any injuries received by any person and the physical cause of the death of any person who was examined by him. Counsel cited the case of EDOHO VS THE STATE (2012) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1214) 651 at 678, paras. A-E. In his final submission, the learned Counsel to the Appellant submitted that this appeal presents a case where the concurrent findings must be disturbed. He urged this Court to allow the appeal, acquit and discharge the Appellant.
In his short and direct Respondent’s Brief, the learned Counsel to the Respondent contended that proof in criminal trial

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is attained against the background of the burden enshrined in Section 135(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011 which states thus:
“135. Standard of Proof where commission of crime in issue; and burden where guilt of crime etc. asserted.
(1) If the commission of a crime by a party to any proceeding is directly in issue in any Proceeding civil or criminal, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt.”

Counsel contended that the section imposes only a burden on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused person beyond reasonable doubt. Counsel relied on Section 36(5) of the Constitution which stipulates that:
“Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is Proved guilty;
Provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts.”

On the issue of respective burdens of proof imposed on the Accused and prosecution, the learned Counsel to the Respondent cited the case of BELLO VS STATE (2007) 10 NWLR (Pt.1043) 564; OLADELE VS NIGERIAN ARMY (2004) 6 NWLR (Pt.868) at 166 and OBIAKO VS THE STATE (2002) 10 NWLR (Pt.776) at 612.
The Learned Counsel also cited AKPAN VS THE STATE (2007) 2 NWLR (Pt.1019), page 50; UBANI VS THE STATE (2003) 18 NWLR (Pt.851) at 24, and BAKARE VS THE STATE (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt.52) at 579.
The Respondent also contended, through its Counsel, that the prosecution had dutifully proved all ingredients of the alleged offence by adducing sufficient evidence. He stressed further that the medical evidence tendered and admitted as Exhibit ‘D’ reveals that the death of the deceased Hamidu Mohammed resulted directly from the knife attack inflicted on him by the Appellant. The Learned Counsel also pointed out that the confessional statement of the accused recorded in Hausa language with its English translation admitted as Exhibit C and C1 respectively established the guilt of the Appellant. He cited the case of JAFIYA VS THE STATE (1971) All NLR, page 50; PETER VS STATE (1997) 12 NWLR (Pt.531) at 22.
On the contention that the Medical Report was wrongly admitted, the learned counsel to the Respondent contended that the Appellant cannot now be heard to object to same having acquiesced and allowed the evidence to sail through at trial without any objection. This, according to him, would amount to crying over a spill-milk especially given the fact that there is confessional statement aside the medical report.
On this contention, Counsel cited the case of BELLO SHURUMO VS THE STATE (2010) 19 NWLR (Pt.1226) at 73.
In closing, the learned Counsel for the Respondent urged this Court to affirm the conviction and sentence of death by hanging on the Appellant for committing the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death contrary to Section 221 of the Penal Code.
The totality of the evidence presented in this case leaves this Court with little or no room to arrive at a different conclusion with the trial and lower Court. This stems from the fact that the duty of Court, is to interpret the statute in accordance with the intention of the law makers. In UGWU VS ARARUME (2007) 12 NWLR (P1.1048) 367 at 498 this Court stated thus:
A statute, it is always said, is “the will of the legislature” and any document which is presented to it as a statute is an authentic expression of the legislative will. The function of the Court is to interpret that document according to the intent of those who made it. Thus, the Court declares the intention of the legislature.”
Courts generally have deliberately shifted away from narrow technical approach to justice which characterized some earlier decisions to now pursue the course of substantial justice. See MAKERI SMELTING CO. LTD. VS ACCESS BANK (NIG.) PLC (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt.766) 447 at 476-477.
The attitude of the Court has since changed against deciding cases on mere technicalities. The attitude of the Courts now is that cases should always be decided, wherever possible on merit. Blunders must take place from time to time, and it is unjust to hold that because a blunder has been committed, the party blundering is to incur the penalty of not having the dispute between him and his adversary determined upon the merits.”
See also AJAKAIYE VS IDEHAI (1994) 8 NWLR (Pt.364) 504, ARTRAIND LTD VS NBCI (1997) 1 NWLR (Pt.483) 754, DAKAT VS. DASHE (1997) 12 NWLR (pt.531) 46, BENSON VS. NIGERIA AGIP CO. LTD (1982) 6 S.C 1.

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The law is that the Supreme Court will not interfere with concurrent findings of facts made by the trial Court and the Court of Appeal unless such findings are perverse; or are not supported by the evidence; or are reached as a result of a wrong approach to the evidence; or as a result of a wrong application of evidence; or as a result of a wrong application of any principle of substantive law or procedure. See ARABAMBI VS ADVANCE BEVERAGES IND. LTD. (2005) 19 NWLR (Pt.959) 1 per Onnoghen, J.S.C (Pt.46), C-E. See also OCHIBA VS STATE 2011 12 SC (Pt.IV) p.79″ per Rhodes-Vivour, J.S.C. (pp.51-52, paras. F-B). See also CAMEROON AIRLINES VS OTUTUIZU 2011 12 SC (Pt.III) P.200; OLOWU VS NIG. NAVY 2011 12 SC (Pt. II) page 1; AROWOLO VS OLOWOOKERE & 2 ORS. 2011 11-12 SC (Pt.II) P.98. 
The above finding also becomes inevitable given the provisions of Sections 222 of the CPC to the effect that:
“No error in stating either the offence or the particulars required to be stated in the charge and no omission to state the offence or those particulars shall be regarded at any stage of the case as material, unless the accused was in fact misled by such error or omission and it has occasioned a failure of justice.”
Also compelling are the provisions of 288 and 382 of the CPC, which state respectively (repeated for emphasis):
SECTION 288 OF THE CPC
“A Court exercising appellate jurisdiction shall not in exercise of such jurisdiction interfere with the finding or sentence or other order of the lower Court on the ground that only that evidence has been wrongly admitted or that there has been a technical irregularity in procedure, unless it is satisfied that a failure of justice has been occasioned by such admission or irregularity.”
SECTION 382 OF THE CPC:
Subject to the provisions herein before contained, no finding, sentence or order passed by a Court of 
competent jurisdiction shall be reversed or altered on appeal or reviewed on account of any error, omission or irregularity in the appeal or reviewed on account of any error, omission or irregularity in the complaint, summons, warrant, charge, public summons, order, judgement or other proceedings before or during trial or in any inquiry or other proceedings under the Criminal Procedure Code unless the Appeal Court or reviewing authority thinks that a failure of justice has in fact been occasioned by such error, omission or irregularity.”
Moreover, by virtue of the provisions of Sections 28 of the Evidence Act, confessional statement is tenable and admissible. The section describes a confessional statement thus:
“A confession is an admission made at any time by a person, charged with a crime tending to show or suggest the inference that he committed the crime.”
Confessional statement is the best evidence to ground conviction and, as held in a number of cases, it can be relied upon solely where voluntary.
The criminal guilt of an accused person could be established by confessional statement, circumstantial evidence and evidence of an eye witness.
A confessional statement does not become inadmissible even if the accused person denied having made it. This has been the settled position in our jurisprudence of criminal justice. See for example PATRICK IKEMSON & 2 ORS VS THE STATE (1989) 3 NWLR (pt.110) 455 at 476 para. D; JOSEPH IDOWU VS THE STATE (2000) 7 SC 50 at 62; (2000) 12 NWLR (pt.680), at 48, NKWUDA EDAMINE VS THE STATE (1996) 3 NWLR (pt.43S) 530 at 537 paras. D-E; SAMUEL THEOPHILUS VS THE STATE (1996) 1 NWLR (Pt.423) page 139 at 155 paras. A-B; and AWOPEJU VS THE STATE (2002)3 MJSC 141 at 151.
This Court, per the Learned Onnoghen, JSC (as he then was; now CJN) in PETER ILIYA AZABADA VS THE STATE(2014) All FWLR (Pt.751) 1620, para. B has made it abundantly clear in the following words:
“The confessional statement of an accused, where it is direct, positive and unequivocal as to the commission of the crime charged, is the best evidence and can be relied upon solely for conviction of the accused person. An accused person can be convicted on his confessional statement alone, where the confession is constant with other ascertained facts which have been proved.”
Confession in criminal procedure is the strongest evidence of guilt on the art of an accused person. It is stronger than evidence of an eye witness because the evidence comes from the horse’s mouth who is the accused person. There is no better evidence and there is no further proof. Therefore where an accused person confesses to a crime in the absence of an eye

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witness to the killing, he can be convicted on his confession alone once the confession is positive, direct and properly proved. In other words, a free and voluntary confession of guilt, direct and positive and if duly made and satisfactorily proved, is sufficient without corroborative evidence so long as the Court is satisfied as to the truth of the confession.”
The evidence of medical evidence is further strengthened by the confessional statement of the Appellant. In view of the foregoing, it is our considered view that the judgment of the trial Court cannot, be faulted at all and the lower Court was right in affirming and endorsing it. The Appellant has failed to convince us that this is a situation in which this Court should interfere. See also MINI LODGE LTD VS NGEI (2009) 18 NWLR (Pt.1173) 254 per Musdapher, J.S.C (as he then was) (P.33, paras. B-D).
Apart from the confessional statement of the Appellant, PW.5 one Buhari Yahaya, an eye witness testified at page 24 of the record as follows:
“On 29/10/2008 around 2:00p.m in the afternoon, accused was coming from one corner at Kwanni area in Sokoto following the deceased person one PC Hamidu Mohammed with a knife. I saw that when he reached the said Hamidu Mohammed, the accused stabbed him with a knife two times. The deceased was stabbed at the back of the neck by the accused. The deceased fall down. We then rushed with some other people and took the deceased to Kwanni police Station. The accused Wadata Isah Alias Zabo run away from the scene. The police then carried the deceased to UDUTH Hospital, Sokoto. I led the police to the spot where I saw the accused followed.
While we were there checking on the whereabouts of the accused, we received phone call saying that the said Hamidu Mohammed police had died.
We returned back and proceeded to UDUTH.
We saw the corpse of the deceased Hamidu Mohammed laid down and surrounded by police men including the DPO who were all crying. I also cried. We went back into vehicle and returned back to Kwanni Police Station.
I made explanation to the DPO on what I saw. I was asked by the DPO to show the police the house of the accused which I did. The police then released me. I can identify the knife used by the accused on the accused. It has black sole tape it was made of iron – silver. Its length is about from the arm to the elbow. This is the knife.”
From the foregoing, the evidence of the prosecution in this case as to who stabbed the deceased is not circumstantial evidence, it is a direct and positive evidence of an eye witness.
The direct evidence required to prove the cause of death must be such as would connect the death of the deceased person with the act of the accused. This may include evidence of medical officer who examined or performed post-mortem examination on the deceased or an eye witness who saw when the accused inflicted injuries to the diseased. See OGUNTOLU VS THE STATE (1996) 2 NWLR (Pt.423) 503.
There is overwhelming evidence from the fact of this case that the Appellant stabbed the deceased with knife on deceased’s neck. The deceased sustained serious injuries and was taken to the Hospital. The medical report certified that the injuries inflicted on the deceased by the accused are those that caused the death of the deceased.
In the light of all that has been said, the sole issue for determination of this appeal is resolved in favour of the Respondent. The prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. The appeal is dismissed; the decision of the lower Court affirming the sentence and conviction of the Appellant is hereby affirmed by me.
OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR, J.S.C.: I read in draft the leading judgment of my learned brother Bage JSC. I agree with his lordship that concurrent findings of the Courts below that the appellant stabbed Hamidu Mohammed, a Police constable with a knife, an act that resulted in his death is true.
The appellant was charged under Section 221 of the Penal Code. It reads:
“Except in circumstances mentioned Section 222 culpable Homicide shall be punished with death –
(a) lf the act by which the death is caused is done with the intention of causing death, or
(b) lf the doer of the act knew or had reason to know that death would be the probable and not only the likely consequence

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of the act or of any bodily injury, which the act was intended to cause.”
Before the Court can convict under Section 221 of the Penal Code the charge must be proved beyond reasonable doubt and this is achieved when the Court is satisfied that:
(a) the death of a human being has occurred.
(b) the death of the deceased was caused by the accused/appellant.
(c) the act was done with the intention of causing death or that the accused knew or had reason to know that death will be the probable and not only the likely consequence of his act.
See Durwode v State (2000) 15 NWLR (Pt.691) p.467 Shande v State (2005) 12 NWLR (Pt.939) p.301.

Proof beyond reasonable doubt does not mean proof of a mathematical certainty. It also does not mean proof beyond all possible doubt.
A charge is proved beyond reasonable doubt when the facts and circumstances of the case and the quality of evidence adduced is compelling and reliable to establish the guilt of the accused person. There must be a high degree of probability that the accused person committed the offence. The doubt must be of a reasonable man and the standard must also be of a reasonable man.
Proof beyond reasonable doubt is not achieved by the prosecution calling several witnesses to testify. The Court is only interested in the testimony of a quality witness, so long as the charge is not one that needs corroboration. See Egwumi v State (2013) 2SC (Pt .III) P.119.
Now, did a human being die and was the death of the human being as result of the appellant’s act?
PW5 said in evidence in chief:
“l saw that when he reached the said Hamidu Mohammed, the accused stabbed him with a knife two times. The deceased was stabbed at the back of the neck by the accused. The deceased fell down…… The Police then carried the deceased to UDUTH Hospital, Sokoto…. ….while we were there checking on the whereabouts of the accused, we received phone call saying that the said Hamidu Mohammed Police had died.”
Visual identification is one of the best forms of identification in a criminal case. See Ndukwe v State (2009) 2 SCN, p.223.
PW5 said in his evidence in chief that he saw the appellant stab the deceased with a knife. This evidence was not discredited in cross examination. In fact the testimony is true since the Postmortem report, exhibit D, confirms that the deceased died from stab wounds.
Cross-examination of PW5 is on page 34 and 35 of the Record of Appeal. It covers six lines. The witness was not asked any question on the death of Hamidu Mohammed.
What is the effect of failure to cross-examine a witness on a material point?
Where a witness testifies on a material fact in controversy, in this case whether Hamidu Mohammed is dead, and whether it was the appellant who killed him, and the appellant if he does not accept the witness testimony as true should cross-examine him on that fact, or at least show that he does not accept the evidence as true.
Where he fails to do either the Court can take his silence as acceptance that he does not dispute the fact.
Documentary evidence in this case exhibit D serves as a hanger from which to assess oral testimony. See Kimdey & Ors v M.G. Gongola State (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 77) p. 473. Omoregbe v. Lawani (1980) 3  4 SC p. 117.
Exhibit D is the Postmortem Report from the UDUTH Hospital Sokoto. It is signed by Dr. Jitendra Singh. It was he who performed postmortem examination on the body of Hamidu Mohammed, and he confirmed that he died from deep stab wounds. Exhibit D shows beyond reasonable doubt that the deceased died from stab wounds and the testimony of PW5 as to how Hamidu Moahmmed died is true.
My lords, I am satisfied that both Courts below came to the right conclusion when they found that Hamidu Mohammed was stabbed by the appellant with a knife at the back of his neck and he died from the stab wounds. Exhibit D, the postmortem report lends more credence to the testimony of PW5 which I also accept. Hamidu Mohammed is dead and he died from stab wounds to the rear of his neck inflicted by the appellant.

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The act was done clearly with the intention of causing the death of the deceased. The charge under Section 221 of the Penal Code was proved beyond reasonable doubt.
For this and the more detailed reasoning in the leading judgment prepared by my learned brother Bage JSC, I too dismiss the appeal.
MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI, J.S.C.: I agree with the judgment just delivered by my learned brother, Sidi Dauda Bage JSC and to underscore that support I shall make some comments.
This is an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal, Sokoto Division delivered on the 17th day of May, 2011 in which the Court below affirmed the conviction and sentence by hanging passed on the accused/appellant by the trial Court sequel to the provisions of Section 221 of the Penal Code for culpable homicide punishable with death.
The facts as briefly stated thus:
The appellant is alleged to be a thug and one of the Area Boys in Kwanni Area of Metropolis in Sokoto State. On the 29th day of October, 2008 at Kwanni Area, Sokoto he stabbed to death One Hamidu Mohammed a police Constable with a knife at the back of his neck. He was arrested, investigated, charged to Court, tried and convicted for the offence of Culpable Homicide punishable with death contrary to Section 221 of Penal Code. On the 22nd day of March 2010, the appellant was sentenced to death by hanging having been found guilty of the offence with which he was charged.
Dissatisfied with his conviction and sentence the appellant appealed to the Court below, which appeal was dismissed hence the present appeal to the Supreme Court vide Notice of Appeal dated 25th July, 2012.
Boma Ozobia of counsel for the appellant on 5th day of October, 2017 date of hearing, adopted the Amended appellant’s brief filed 5th January, 2017 and deemed filed on the 12th January 2017. She raised a sole issue for the determination of the appeal as follows:-.
Whether having regard to the evidence adduced at the trial Court, the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the decision of the trial Court that the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against the appellant.
Learned counsel for the respondent Sulaiman Usman SAN and Attorney-General of Sokoto State adopted the Amended respondent’s brief of argument filed on 4/11/2016 and deemed filed on 12/1/2017. He also raised a single issue for determination which is, viz:
Whether in the circumstances of this case, the Court of Appeal was right in Law, in upholding and affirming the decision of the trial Court including the conviction and sentence of the appellant for the offence of Culpable Homicide punishable with death.
Each of the issues identified on either side ask the same question and it really does not matter which of them is utilised.
SOLE ISSUE:
The question raised is if the Court of Appeal was right in upholding and affirming the decision of the trial Court including the conviction and sentence for the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death.

Ms. Boma Ozobia contended that the onus is on the prosecution to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt, failure of which the doubt is resolved in favour of the accused. That this is in keeping with the provisions of Section 36 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended.
She cited Nwangwa v The State (1997) 8 NWLR (pt.517) 457 at 463; Abokokuyanro v State (2016) LPELR – 40107(SC).
That this burden is unshifting and nothing has happened to shift that burden. She referred to Udosen v The State (2007) 4 NWLR (Pt.1023) 125 at 150; Lawal v State (2016) LPELR – 40633 (SC);Section 139 (1) of the Evidence Act 2011 etc.
Learned counsel for the appellant further contended that there were glaring material inconsistencies in the evidence

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adduced by the prosecution which situation imperils the case of the respondent. She cited Nwokearu v The State (2010) NWLR (Pt.1215) 1 at 27. 
She urged the Court to disregard the medical report as it was never read to the appellant and the trial Court did not state what it contained as to fix the cause of death on the appellant and so fell short of the standard required for admission and utilisation. She referred to Section 249 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code; Edoho v The State(2012) 14 NWLR (Pt.1214) 651 at 678; Ubierho v State (2005) 5 NWLR (Pt.919) 644 at 665 – 666.

That there is no nexus between the death of the deceased and the alleged unlawful act of the accused appellant which thereafter has created a doubt that should be resolved in favour of the appellant. She relied on Bakare v The State (1987) 1 NSCC 267; Essien v The State (1984) 3 SC 14; Edim v The State (1972) 4 SC 160.
Learned counsel for the appellant submitted that this is a proper case for the interference of the Supreme Court on the concurrent findings of the two Courts below as they are perverse and not supported by the evidence on record. She referred to Ogundiyan v The State (1991) 3 NWLR (PT. 181) 519 AT 528  529; Ogoala v The State(1991) 2 NWLR (Pt. 175) 509; Adebuji v The State (2016) LPELR- 40008 (SC).
The Attorney – General of Sokoto State and senior counsel contended for the respondent, that from the totality of evidence adduced at the trial, the prosecution proved all the ingredients of the offence of culpable homicide beyond reasonable doubt against the appellant. That the medical evidence tendered and admitted in evidence as Exhibit D revealed that the death of the deceased resulted directly from the act of the appellant i.e. the act of stabbing the deceased. Also that the confessional statement, Exhibit C and C1 established the fact that the appellant stabbed the deceased with the knife, which led to the death of the deceased. That the appellant knew that death of the deceased will not only be the likely but the probable consequence of the act of the appellant or that accused did not care whether death of the deceased will result from the act. He cited Jafiya Kopa v The State (1972) All NLR 50, Peter v State (1997) 12 NWLR (Pt.531) 1 at 22; Durwode v State (2000) 15 NWLR (Pt.691) 467 at 487 – 488.
The Learned Senior Advocate for the respondent submitted that the contradictions or inconsistencies the learned counsel for the appellant made much of were so minor and could not materially affect the case of the prosecution. He cited Esangbedo v The State (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt.113) 57 at 83; Bello Shurumo v The State (2010) 19 NWLR (Pt.1226) 73.

The learned trial judge had held thus:
“In the case at hand, on the state of evidence, it is observed that accused must at least have appreciated that the stabing of the deceased with an object, a knife, exhibit A. On the vital part of the body at the back of the neck, for all intents and purposes, must have reason to know that death would in the given circumstances therefore, result therefrom by his own acts and will in the circumstances therefore, be fixed with knowledge that the act was done with intention of causing death or that it was done with the intention of causing such bodily injury as accused knew or had reason to know that death would be the probable and not only the likely consequence of his act or that accused knew or had reason to know that death would be the probable and not only the likely consequence of any bodily injury which the act was intended to cause.” 
The Court of trial further held in respect to the defences available to the accused/appellant as follows:
“In the given facts and circumstances of the case at hand, by the pieces of uncontroverted material evidence presented by the prosecution linking the acts of the accused with the cause of death of the deceased one PC Hamidu Mohammed of Kwanni Divisional Police Station, Sokoto by stabbing him with a knife at the back of his neck, and which act resulted into his death, the act had negated any right to any defence whatsoever open to the accused and the said unlawful killing therefore, cannot be a defence to revenge for an illegal killing of the accuser’s uncle as raised by accused in his voluntary confessional statement to the police exhibits C and C1 the Hausa Voluntary statement of the accused and its English version.
Even by his own evidence, the accused as D.W.1 merely concocted a framed – up story that he deals in jewelleries and whereas in Exhibit C & C1 it has been shown that he is a black marketer who deals in selling petroleum products and his

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entire evidence was a mere denial and introduced torture – which the defence ought to have raised when the confessional statement was sought to be admitted by the prosecution but did not raise any objection to its being admitted in evidence on torture and would have even call for conducting a trial – within – trial in the circumstance since the Court cannot suo motu call for one.
Furthermore, assuming there were three persons called or bearing the name “Wadata, in a crowd of eight as claimed by accused while giving evidence for defence as D.W.1; it is indeed clear that the prosecution’s led evidence that the accused by name Wadata Isah Alias Zabo in this case was duly identified in the dock as the accused in question.
In the result therefore, I reject the accuseds claim and hold that from the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, no defence avail him as by his acts had distanced himself from the umbrella of any defence whatsoever in this case.” 
In making findings along the same lines as the trial Court, the Court of Appeal stated thus:
“The respondent’s counsel avers that in the case even if there was no mention of knife in the extra judicial statement of PW2 but in his evidence, his piece of evidence corroborates the evidence of PW3 that the case diary, the accused and the exhibit knife were forwarded to the CID for discreet investigation. The question is, does this result to a miscarriage of justice? The answer will be in the negative because it is proved beyond reasonable doubt that the accused stabbed the deceased and he died of the stab wounds.
In the conclusion, I am of the firm view that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt by proving all the ingredients of the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death contrary to Section 221 of the Penal Code against the accused, now appellant.” 

Here and now before us at this point it needs reiteration that proof in criminal trial is attained against the background of the burden of proof enshrined in Section 135(1) of the Evidence Act, 2011 which prescribes that if the commission of a crime by a party to any proceedings is directly in issue in any proceeding, civil or criminal, it must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. There is therefore no imposition of a duty on the accused to purge himself of guilt rather what is required is for the prosecution to prove the guilt of reasonable doubt. It is in line with that legal principle that Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria provides as follows:
Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until proven guilty provided that nothing in this Section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts.”
The Courts have interpreting Section 36 (5) CFRN, have held that the section has squarely situated the burden of proving the guilt of an accused person on the prosecution.
Therefore to prove the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death under Section 221 of the Penal Code as in the instant case the prosecution must lead credible evidence to establish the following ingredients:
1. The death of a human being actually took place;
2. That such death of the deceased resulted from the act of the accused person;
3. The act or omission which caused the death of the deceased was done with the intention of causing death or that the accused knew or had reason to know that death will be the probable and not only the likely consequence of his act. 

I place reliance on Bello v State (2007) 10 NWLR (pt.1043) 564; Oladele v Nigeria Army (2004) 6 NWLR (Pt. 868) 166, Akpan v The State (2007) 2 NWLR (pt.2003) 18 NWLR (pt.1019) 50; Ubani v The State (2003) 18 NWLR (pt.851) 24, Bakare v The State (1987) 1 NWLR (pt.52) 579.
Going through the totality of evidence at the trial of the appellant, the prosecution definitely proved all the ingredients of the offence of culpable homicide and the guilt of the accused/appellant beyond reasonable doubt. The death of the deceased, Police Constable Hamidu Mohammed has been proved and that it was as a result of the act of the appellant through the evidence of PW5, an eye-witness. The situation is buttressed by the medical evidence, tendered as EXHIBIT D, the medical report which showed that the death of the deceased came directly from the act of the appellant by the act of stabbing of the deceased with a knife at the back of his neck. Again in the same basket is the confessional statement of the accused EXHIBIT C and C1 respectively in which the appellant admitted the act of stabbing. The statement being true, positive, direct and voluntarily made is the best evidence because it is the admission of guilt directly from the actor’s mouth and

…………………….I…………………….

sufficient of itself alone to establish the guilt of the accused.
I rely on Jafiya Kopa v The State (1971) All NLR 50; Peter v State (1997) 12 NWLR ( 531) 1 at 22.
In respect of the last ingredient of the accused, clearly the appellant knew that death of the deceased will not only be the likely but in fact the probable consequence of his act or that he did not care whether death of the deceased will result from his act. See Durwode v State (2000) 15 NWLR (pt. 691) 467, 487-488.
On the last point which the appellant made much of, which is that there were contradictions and discrepancies in the evidence of PW2 and PW4 and statements which appellant contended were fatal to the case of the respondent.
From available record, that stance of the appellant cannot stand as any contradictions and inconsistencies that exist are minor, peripheral and cannot materially affect the case of the prosecution. See Esangbedo v State(1959) 4 NWLR (pt.113) 57 at 83. 
In the main there is no basis to intervene in the concurrent findings of the two Courts below and the only thing left is to dismiss the appeal which lacks merit
Appeal is dismissed in line with the fuller reasonings in the lead judgment. I abide by the orders as made.
CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI, J.S.C.: I read in draft the lead judgment delivered by my learned brother Bage, JSC. I agree that the appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed. Appellant is a thug and one of the Area boys in Kwanni Area of Sokoto metropolis in Sokoto South L.G.A. of Sokoto State. On the 29th October, 2008 at Kwanni Area, Sokoto, appellant stabbed to death one Hamidu Mohommed, a Police Constable with a knife at the back of his neck.
The High Court of Sokoto convicted the appellant and he was sentenced to death by hanging. On appeal to Court of Appeal the conviction and sentence were affirmed.
On a further appeal herein the issue before us is:
Whether in the circumstance of this case, the Court of Appeal was right in law in upholding and affirming the decision of the Trial Court including the conviction and sentence of the appellant for the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death?
The burden always is on the prosecution to prove the accused guilty, and the ingredients are trite and well established.
The medical report Exhibit D reveals that the death of the deceased Hamidu Mohommed resulted directly from the act of the accused/appellant i.e. the act of stabbing the deceased with a knife at the back of his neck. The act caused the death of the victim.
It is a matter of common knowledge that the use of a knife (lethal weapon) on a sensitive part of the body could be very grievous.
The confessional statement of the accused in Hausa & English translation Exhibit C & C1 respectively also established that the accused stabbed the deceased with a knife which led to his death. I hold the firm view that contrary to the submission by the appellants counsel, minor contradiction in evidence of Pw2 and Pw4, if any, are insignificant. The intention/motive of the accused/appellant has been stated clearly in his Confessional Statement wherein he admitted killing the deceased in order to avenge the death of his uncle. He cannot now get away from the natural consequences of his intention and act.
The appellant did not adduce any reason why the concurrent judgments of the two lower Courts should be interfered with. I therefore endorse the well reasoned judgment of my learned brother Bage, JSC and also dismiss the appeal as lacking in merit.
AMINA ADAMU AUGIE, J.S.C.: I had a preview of the lead Judgment delivered by my learned brother, Bage, JSC, and I agree that this Appeal lacks merit.
The Appellant, who was tried, convicted and sentenced to death for the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death, was accused of causing the death of PC Hamidu Mohammed’, by stabbing him with a knife at the back of his neck. At the trial before the Sokoto State High Court, the Prosecution called five witnesses and tendered four Exhibits, including the confessional Statements made by Appellant to the Police

…………………….J…………………….[Exhibits C and C1].
In the said confessional Statements, the Appellant admitted he used a knife in stabbing the deceased at the back of his neck, which caused his death; and he claimed that he did so to avenge the death of his uncle, one Shehu lsah. The learned trial Judge, Bello Abbas, J. (as he then was), found him guilty as charged.
The Appellant challenged the decision of the trial Court at the Court of Appeal, and in its Judgment delivered on 11/7/2012, the Court of Appeal held that the Prosecution proved all the three ingredients of the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death beyond reasonable doubt, and then dismissed his Appeal.
Further aggrieved, the Appellant has appealed to this Court with a Notice of Appeal that contains only one Ground of Appeal, and he formulated a single issue for determination in his brief
Whether, having regard to the evidence adduced at the trial Court, the Court of Appeal was right in affirming the decision of the trial Court that the Prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt against the Appellant? 
The Respondent also formulated one issue for determination-
Whether in the circumstances of this case, the Court of Appeal was right in law, in upholding and affirming the decision of the trial Court including the conviction and sentence of the Appellant for the offence of culpable homicide punishable with death. 
In my view, whichever way it is slanted, the issue that calls for determination in this Appeal is whether the Prosecution proved its case against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt, and this will entail the appraisal of the facts adduced in evidence vis-a-vis the ingredients of the offence of culpable homicide, which are
i. That the deceased died;
ii. That the death of the deceased resulted from the act of the Accused;
iii. And that the Accused caused the death of the deceased intentionally or with knowledge that death or grievous bodily harm was its probable consequence. 

See Section 221 of the Penal Code and Sule Ahmed (Alias Eza) v. State (2001) 78 NWLR (Pt.745) 622 SC. The Appellant and Respondent made submissions regarding the law, and proffered arguments in support of their respective positions regarding this Appeal.
They are however, in agreement that the first ingredient was proved; that is that “PC Hamidu Mohammed” actually died. The Appellant insists that the other ingredients were not proved. But the Respondent argued that the ingredients were established through the evidence of PW5 (an eye witness), whose testimony clearly stated the fact as seen by him; and by the medical report [Exhibit-D], which clearly indicates that the death of the deceased resulted from the injury sustained by the act of the Appellant in stabbing the deceased with a knife at the back of his neck.
But the Appellant urged this Court to disregard Exhibit D i.e. Medical Report, as it was not read to the Appellant and the trial Court did not say what it contained so as to fix the cause of death on him, thus, it fell short of the standard required for its admission and utilization, citing Edoho V. State (2012) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1214) 652 and Ubierho V. State (2005) 5 NWLR (Pt. 919) 644.

He contends that there is no nexus whatsoever between the death of the deceased and the act that he allegedly committed.
The Respondent, citing Jafiya Kopa V. The State (1971) ALL NLR 50 and Peter V. The State (1997) 12 NWLR (Pt.531) 1, also submitted that the Appellants confessional statement is the best evidence since it is an admission of guilt and it is enough to prove his guilt; that the Appellant’s confession in Exhibits C & C1 that he killed the deceased to avenge the death of his uncle binds him and is sufficient evidence of his intention or knowledge that the death of the deceased is a probable consequence of his act in stabbing the deceased at the back of his neck with a knife.
Obviously, the Appellant’s contention cannot be sustained. He confessed in Exhibits C & C1 that he used a knife to stab the deceased on the back of the neck because he was avenging the death of his uncle. He denied it in Court, but the trial Court did not believe him, which is its prerogative, as findings of facts are matters within the province of a trial Court, and there is not much this Court can do when an Appeal turns on the issue of credibility – see Sugh V. The State (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt. 77) 475 SC. 
What is more, where there is sufficient evidence to support concurrent findings of fact by two lower Courts, such findings will not be disturbed unless there is significant error that is apparent on the Record – Ogoala V. State (1991) 2 NWLR (Pt. 175) 506.
It is also settled that the intention to kill or cause grievous harm can be inferred from the nature of the weapon he used; and that “a man who stabs another on the neck region with a bottle is deemed to have intended to kill or cause grievous bodily harm- see Owhoruke V. C.O.P.  (2015) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1483) 557 SC.
In this case, I have no doubt in my mind that the Prosecution proved its case against the Appellant beyond reasonable doubt. The Court below was right to affirm the decision of the trial Court, which is supported by the evidence and it is for this and the other reasons in the lead judgment that I also dismiss this Appeal.
Appearances

Boma Ozobia with him, Prisca Ozokesike and Olufemi Fabunmi – For Appellant

 AND

Suleiman Usman, SAN Attorney-General of Sokoto State with him, Aisha A. Illo DAG/PT., Nura Muhammad PSC, Adah Usman LA AGSC, and G. C. Ude LA AGSC. – For Respondent

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