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SUIT NO. SC 164/1971.

3PLR/1972/9  (SC)










CRIMINAL LAW – Homicide – Murder

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Evidence – Confessional statement – Voluntariness conviction on.



  1. O. Akinrele for the Appellant.

Gwam (S.S.C.) for the Respondent.


SOWEMIMO, Ag. J.S.C. (Delivering the Judgment of the Court): On the 29th of June, 1971 the appellant was convicted of the offence of murder and sentenced to death by Ovie-Whiskey, J. at the High Court Ward. His appeal to this Court against his conviction was heard on the 22nd November, 1971 and was dismissed. We now give our reasons for doing so.


The facts of the case generally are not in dispute. There was one eye-witness of the incident. He is Aaron Bob and was the 1st prosecution witness at the trial. He occupies a room which is adjacent to the one occupied by Titi Onesosan (now deceased). The appellant was the lover of Titi Onesosan. On 28th April, 1970 at about 8.00 a.m the 1st P.W. heard the appellant and Titi Onesosan quarelling. On peeping through the perforated poles of bamboo-wall which separated his room from that of the deceased, he noticed the appellant holding Titi Onesosan (now deceased) by the neck with the left hand, and pressing her to his body. He also noticed the appellant poured some liquid from a white bottle in his right hand on to the head of the deceased. On seeing this the witness came out of his room immediately, and as he did this, observed some flames of fire “coming out of the adjacent room.”


He (P.W.1) raised an alarm and in the meantime forced open the door leading into the apartment of the deceased. The P.W. 1 saw that Titi Onesosan (deceased) was lying on the ground engulfed in fire. He quickly pulled the deceased out of the premises which also was already on fire.


One Ofghoakeri Emo Orukpete, who is the P.W.2, came to the scene. She ran into the burning house and brought out the son of the deceased. She noticed bums on the body of the child, because the mosquito net over his bed had caught fire, and the fire had extended to the bed on which the child was sleeping.


The Chief of the village one Agbajoh Akaka, who is the P.W.3 came to the scene along with others. He observed the burns on Titi Onesosan (now deceased) and her son (also now deceased). The appellant was met at the scene by this witness.


Dr. Samuel Osunde who is the P.W.4 gave evidence about the admission of Titi Onesosan (now deceased) into the General Hospital, Ward on or about the 2nd May, 1970. He treated her for widespread burns. The said Titi Onesosan eventually died on 4th May, 1970. The doctor gave evidence of his examination of the corpse of the deceased and stated –


“I found that the body was that of as middle aged woman. There were burns covering over two-thirds of her whole body. All the other internal organs were healthy.


I certify the cause of the deceased’s death in my opinion to be wide spread burns.”


The 5th P.W., who is as Police Constable, gave evidence of the report made at the Police Post at Madangho and how he rushed Titi Onesosan (the deceased) and her son to a nearby Dispensary because both had burns all over their bodies. In the company of P.W.3 he visited Arunto, the scene of the incident. There he arrested the appellant. In company of the appellant he recovered a white empty bottle and a wet box of matches was tendered in evidence as Exh. “A”. He also recovered a bottle containing kerosene – Exh. “B” in the premises of the appellant which is about 50 yards from that of the deceased Till Onesosan.


The 6th, 7th and 8th P.W.’s are Police Officers who took part in the investigation of the case. The 9th P.W. is the Assistant Superintendent of Police before whom the appellant confirmed that his confessional statement Exh. “D” is correct. This took place at the General Hospital.


On being discharged from hospital on the 25th or 26th May, 1970, the appellant expressed a wish to make a statement in Yoruba. A Police Constable, the 8th P.W., Elijah Ogungbola, who understands Yoruba language, was directed by the Superior Police Officer – 9th P. W. -to record the statement of the appellant in Yoruba. The statement was tendered as Exh. “J”. The appellant with Exhs. “J” and “J1” was taken before 9th P. W. and there he confirmed that Exh. “J7” was his statement. After this the 9th P.W. then completed the confessional Police form which was tendered as Exh. “K„. There were some contradictions in the evidence of 8th and 9th P.W.’s as to what happened when the confessional confirmation Form was filled. The learned trial judge having earlier found that Exhs. “C”, “D”, and “J” were voluntary statements, made by the appellant did not consider that Exh. “k’ is of any materiality; in other words the facts as found by him will in no way be affected by whatever consideration he gave to Exh. “K”. Exh. “D” which is the confessional statement of the appellant and which he adopted as his statement in Exh. “Jill “ reads:


“Na this four cornered white empty bottle be the bottle I filled with kerosine from my house to go and burn my friend Titi. I take the kerosene from the big white bottle before me go for Titi’s house with the small one. I put am finish for her body from her head and the cloth we de for her body. And I put fire with match stick. The time when she de burn na ye throw her cloth for top of her pickin for bed. Na this box of matches I take one stick to put fire for the woman body. Na my £25 when the woman thief na ye cause the trouble. True true na me set fire for the woman body for her room. Na the time when the woman de burn na ye come grip me and na from there fire enter my body. The pickin of the woman – Titi burn too. I nor lock door before I set fire for the woman body. One Bob (m) na ye first run come when me and Tit! hala for people to come. After many people run come I nor know their names, if I see them 1 fit know them. Na morning time of 28/4/70 I do am.”


In his evidence in court however the appellant’s defence was that the incident which caused the bums on Titi Onesosan (deceased) was the result of an accident during a quarrel between him and the deceased. He denied pouring kerosene on the deceased or setting her on fire. The evidence of the appellant inter alia is as follows –


“I told her that she should return to me the money which she removed from my pair of shokoto. She denied taking any money from my pocket. She advised me to go to my own house to look for the money. I begged her to please give me back my money and I promised to give her the sum of £7 if she returned the sum of £25 to me. Inspite of my promise, the deceased refused to give me the money. After some argument between us the deceased held on to the shirt which I had on and she shouted. When the deceased held my shirt I held on to her blouse and fight ensued between us. There was an empty drum of coal tar in a corner in the deceased’s room. On top of the drum was a box where the deceased used to keep some fish. A tin containing some kerosene was put on top of the box. As the deceased and I fought we knocked ourselves on the kerosene tin. The kerosene poured on both of us and we fell on top of a lighted push lamp in the house and our clothes caught fire. Both the deceased and I started to burn. This was in the morning at about 8.00 a.m. The sun was already shinning brightly then. It was the deceased who lit the lamp. The light was on when I left the room to my house to pray earlier in the morning. X X X X X X X X X X X X X


As we were burning the deceased threw the cloth which she had on her body which was burning away and the burning cloth fell on the child while lying on the bed. The child was sleeping inside the mosquito net. The mosquito net got burnt and the child was also burnt. The deceased had the child for another person. The child was 1 1/2 (one and a half) years old then. As the house burnt and we were burning people ran to the scene and poured water on us in order to put off the fire. I know the 1st P.W. He was one of those who ran to the scene. The 1st prosecution witness’ wives lived in a room adjacent to the deceased’s room then. The 1st prosecution witness was not in his wife’s room when the deceased and I were fighting. I now say that the 1st prosecution witness might have been in the house but I did not see him.”


The learned trial judge then considered the evidence of both the prosecution witnesses and defence extensively and exhaustively. He concluded his findings thus


“I am satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt on the evidence of the 1st, 2nd, 4th prosecution witnesses and the contents of Exhibits “C” and “D”, the accused person’s confessional statements to the police that the accused poured kerosene on the body of his lover, Titi Onesosan – deceased, and set her on fire with a stick of matches because he believed that the deceased stole his sum of £25.


I also rind proved beyond any shadow of doubt that the deceased died from the severe wide spread burns which the accused person inflicted on her.


I do not believe the accused person when he said that the deceased and himself fought and that both of them knocked themselves on a tin of kerosene in the deceased’s house which made the kerosene to spill on the bodies of both of them and that they both fell on a lighted lantern which made their bodies catch fire. I wholly reject the defence of the accused person which I consider in my judgment to be a tissue of lies and an after-thought.”


The learned trial judge then considered the defence of provocation on the evidence before him and rejected it. On the facts he concluded that the killing of Titi Onesosan (deceased) by the appellant was a premeditated cold-blooded murder. In our view there was ample evidence before the learned trial judge to justify such a finding. The counsel assigned to argue this appeal had nothing to urge in favour of the appellant. We have also considered the findings of the learned trial judge and we are agreed that the brutal killing of the deceased in the circumstances of this case proved the offence of murder and that the appellant was rightly convicted. We therefore dismissed this appeal.


Appeal dismissed.


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