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INSPECTOR-GENERAL OF POLICE
FEDERAL SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA
1ST JUNE, 1956
BEFORE THEIR LORDSHIPS:
SIR STAFFORD FOSTER-SUTTON, F.C.J. (Presided)
SIR JOHN VERITY, Ag., F.J.. (Read the Judgment of the Court)
WILLIAM HENRY IRWIN, Ag., F.J.
CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE – Onus of proof on Prosecutor – Presumption that trial Judge was mindful thereof.
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – EVIDENCE – Onus of proof in criminal cases – Where lies.
Dingle Foot (with him S. O. Lambo) -for Appellant.
VERITY, AG. F.J. (Delivering the Judgment of the Court):
The only question of law raised by this appeal is as to whether the learned Chief Justice on the hearing of the appeal to the High Court from the judgment of the Magistrate “erred in law in holding that the learned Magistrate directed himself with regard to the onus of proof in criminal cases.”
The Chief Justice in the course of his judgment referred to the cases of R v. Lawrence (1933) A.C. 699 and Woolmington’s case (1935) A.C. 462 and proceeded “These were jury cases and there is nothing on the face of his judgment that the learned Magistrate had not this golden rule in mind or that he for a moment put the onus on the appellant.”
Counsel for the appellant submitted that it was not enough for there to be nothing on the face of the judgment to show that the magistrate had not the rule in mind but that there should be something to show that he had.
We think that the learned Chief Justice correctly stated the approach to the question. In the case of trials before a Judge or professionally qualified Magistrate it is to be assumed that he has in mind this elementary principle, though it is of course open to an appellant to show, if he can, from the terms of the judgment that the Magistrate either had not the rule in mind or departed from it.
Counsel for the appellant sought to do this but in our view failed to do so.
The only ground of appeal on a question of law having failed and as permission was not given for any ground to be argued on matters of fact, we dismissed the appeal against the conviction.
Counsel urged also that the sentence should be reduced but we could find no adequate grounds therefore, and the conviction and sentence were affirmed.
FOSTER-SUTTON, F.C.J.: I concur.
IRWIN, AG. F.J.: I concur.