JELR 81182 (WACA)    
West Africa Court of Appeal  ·  West Africa [For WACA cases]
Other Citations
1944 10 WACA 254-256
Core Terms Beta
case of rex v
such statements
22nd day of november
3rd appellants
aaron umo
abak division
anson akpan
assistant judge
calabar-aba judicial area
calabar province
careful consideration
copy of such statements
court of criminal appeal
criminal code
decision of this court
direct contravention of the rule
district officer
due observance of the judges
following particulars
ground of appeal
importance of the police authorities
jackson akpan umo
judges’ rules
mbo adiaha uko
night time
ntia adiaha uko
offence of murder
only substantial point
police constable
police constable john okereke
police officer
present case
such reader
trial court
trial judge
uruk uso

President :- The four Appellants were charged before Jackson, Assistant Judge, in the High Court of the Calabar-Aba Judicial Division with the offence of murder contrary to section 319 of the Criminal Code, the following particulars being given :-

“Jackson Akpan Umo. Aaron Umo, Mbo Adiaha Uko and Anson Akpan on or about the 22nd day of November, 1943, at night time at Uruk Uso, Abak Division, Calabar Province, in the Calabar-Aba Judicial Area murdered one Ntia Adiaha Uko with matchets."

They were all convicted and sentenced to death and have appealed to this Court against their convictions.

The only substantial point upon the appeal arises from the fact that rule 8 of the Judges’ Rules, as amended in its application to illiterates by the decision of this Court in the case of Rex v. Afose and others (2 W.A.C.A. p. 118), was contravened by the Police Officer investigating the crime. That rule (as so amended) reads ;- “When two or more persons are charged with the same offence and statements are taken separately from the persons charged, the police should not read these statements to the other persons charged, but each of such, persons should be furnished by the police with a copy of such statements, and nothing should be said or done by the police to invite a reply. If the person charged desires to make a statement in reply the usual caution should be administered. Provided that when the person charged is an illiterate the statement may be read over or interpreted to him apart by some person other than a policeman. Anything said to such reader by the person charged when the statement is read shall not be admissible in evidence against him, but if, after the statement has been so read, he shall be desirous of making a statement to the police in reply, such statements shall be taken only after the usual caution has been administered.”

Police Constable John Okereke after taking a statement from the 1st accused in this case, took statements from each of the others in sequence, and, as he told the trial Court ;- “When each accused came in I read to him the statements made by the others.”

It is clear from this that in respect of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th accused the police constable acted in direct contravention of the Rule.

In England in the case of Rex v. Voisin ((1918) 1 K.B. 531) the Court of Criminal Appeal drew attention to the importance of the police authorities enforcing upon their subordinates due observance of the Judges’ Rules, since “ statements obtained from prisoners contrary to the spirit of these Rules may be rejected as evidence by the Judge presiding at the trial.”

That quotation exactly sets out the position. Such statements do not become automatically inadmissible, but they will only be admitted, if, in his discretion, the trial Judge decides to admit them after satisfying himself that they were in fact made voluntarily.

In the present case the learned trial Judge fully appreciated the position and gave the most careful consideration to the question whether or not the statements were voluntarily made. As a result he stated in his judgment ;-

“I was satisfied that all the statements were made freely and voluntarily and for no reason activated either by hope or by threats held out to them by any person in authority and these statements were admitted in evidence.”

It is clear that the Judge exercised his discretion judicially and (to quote again from Rex v. Voisin (supra) )

“Even if we disagreed with the mode in which the Judge had in this case exercised his discretion, which we do not, we should not be entitled to overrule his decision on appeal. This was evidence admissible in law, and it could not be fairly inferred from the other circumstances that it was not voluntary.”

It is significant that after the statements were taken they were read out to the accused by another interpreter before the District Officer and acknowledged as correct, without any suggestion that they had been made otherwise than voluntarily.

For these reasons the ground of appeal alleging misreception of these statements of the accused fails.

There is no substance in any of the .other grounds of appeal and so far as the facts are concerned the evidence was strong against the 1st and 3rd Appellants and, though not so strong against the 2nd and 4th, it was sufficient to justify the convictions.

The appeals of all the Appellants are dismissed.