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Justice Idris of the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos delivered a ruling today concluding the trial within trial to determine the admissibility of the statements given by Waripamo Dudafa and Joseph Nna to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In his ruling, the Judge found that the extra-judicial statements given to the Commission by the two defendants were not confessional statements. Relying on the Evidence Act 2011, he defined a confessional statement as one containing an admission made at anytime by a person charged with a crime stating or suggesting the inference that he committed that crime. He held that statements made by accused persons to police officers or other law enforcement agents during investigation may not necessarily amount to full confessions. He held that a confession, whether written or oral, must be direct and positive as far as the charges are concerned. He added that to constitute a confession, the statement must admit or acknowledge that the maker thereof committed the offence for which he is charged and must in doing so be clear, precise and unequivocal. The court relied on the case of Gbadamosi v. State.


Comparing the facts of the case of Afolabi v. Police, the court held that in the case it was contended that the statement of the accused was a confessional statement and a trial within trial was conducted but the appellate court after reviewing the statement held that the statement was not a confession and the trial within trial was unnecessary shouldn’t have been conducted. The purported confession was thus repudiated and the conviction based on it was quashed as it was held that the alleged confession was neither direct nor positive as to the items contained in the charge.


The court went further to hold that in a confessional statement, both the acts constituting the offence as well as the requisite intent or mens rea, if any, must be admitted by the accused and relied on the cases of Omisade & Ors v. The Queen and Egbeyomi v. The State. Thus, a qualified confession which for instance suggests that a defendant is raising a defence or an explanation would not amount to a confession.


The court concluded by stating that the Defendants have not in their statements admitted the acts constituting the offences to which they were charged as well as the requisite intent or mens rea and held that the statements are not confessional statements.


The statements were thus admitted as evidence in the charge. Continuation of trial in the charge has been adjourned to the 21st of June 2017.