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FEDERAL SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA
23RD MAY, 1959.
BEFORE THEIR LORDSHIPS
MYLES JOHN ABBOTT, AG. F.C.J. (Presided)
LIONEL BRETT, F.J.
LOUIS NWACHUKWU MBANEFO, F.J. (Read the Judgment of the Court)
Appellant absent, not represented.
MR. E. A. ADEMOLA -for Respondent.
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE: – Murder – Provocation – Abusive songs – Whether amount to provocation
CHILDREN AND WOMEN LAW: Women and Politics – Widowhood – Wife of politician – Wife’s effort to manage politician-Husband’s grievance over election outcome – Husband kills another regardless – Effect thereof on family life
ELECTION MATTERS:- Post Election Conflicts – Effect on family and criminal justice system
MURDER WEAPON: matchet
MBANEFO, F.J. (Delivering the Judgment of the Court):
The Appellant, John Adelodun, was convicted of murder by Morgan, J. in the Akure Division of the Western Region High Court and applied to this Court for leave to appeal against his conviction. We heard his application on the 15th May, 1959, and refused it. We now give our reasons for doing so.
The applicant was at the time material to the charge residing with his wife in the village of Odo-Igbemo in Ekiti. It appears that about the month of May, 1958, there was a local government election in Ekiti. The applicant was an influential member of the party known and referred to as the N.C.N.C. and his party had sponsored his cousin, Joseph Adelodun, as a candidate for the election. The cousin lost the election and their opponents, members of the Action Group, following their success were singing and drumming, and, as often happens, though inadvisedly in this country, were deriding members of the opposing camp. The applicant’s wife had gone out to have her hair plaited and on her return she met the applicant sitting in a chair in front of their house. She saluted him but he would not reply. She had heard the songs of their opponents before she came back and asked the applicant whether that was the cause of his annoyance. The applicant said it was not. She asked him to come into the house, but he would not; so she left him and went and called the applicant’s brother named Peter. Peter came and pleaded with the applicant to go into the house. The applicant then agreed and followed his wife into the house. Peter left for his house and the applicant’s wife went into the kitchen.
About thirty minutes later there were shouts outside. Ojuronge Odofin who was in a nearby house ran out and saw the applicant holding a matchet and chasing and striking the deceased with it. The deceased fell down and when Ojuronge Odofin ran towards them the applicant told him not to come near. The applicant was later arrested, but before then he had handed his matchet to Odisu Olorino. On being charged and cautioned the applicant made a statement to the Police in which he said that he was enraged by the abusive songs the deceased was singing when he passed his house. He said he warned the deceased to stop, but on his return he was still singing those songs. He went to him, fighting ensued, and he cut the deceased several times. The deceased ran and fell on the pavement. After the deceased had fallen down he gave him more cuts and he died.
In his evidence in Court the applicant said that he slapped one of the singers and a fight ensued between him and them. He took a piece of firewood and fought them with it. When he noticed blood he then discovered that what he had was a matchet and not firewood. Apart from these explanations his evidence in Court was more or less the same as his statement made to the Police at the time of his arrest.
The learned Judge after a detailed and careful consideration of the evidence found that the applicant was neither acting in self-defence nor under provocation when he attacked and killed the deceased and that the act of the applicant amounted in the circumstances to murder. With that finding we were in entire agreement. It was clear from the evidence that when the applicant attacked the deceased the latter ran away. The applicant pursued him and inflicted more cuts on him. According to the doctor’s evidence there were eight severe cuts and numerous others on the deceased. It was a vicious attack and the doctor was definite that they caused the death of the deceased. We would see no merit in the application which was accordingly refused.