CRIMINAL LAW 2.13 PERJURY
Blackslaw Dictionary defines perjury as a false statement knowingly made to in a proceeding of a court.
Section 117 of the Criminal Code makes it an offence to knowingly give false testimony on a matter which is material to (or shall be raised in) a court proceeding. Perjury is punishable with life imprisonment or 14 years imprisonment where the false testimony was given to secure a death sentence or life imprisonment of an accused respectively.
The following are IMMATERIAL/IRRELEVANT: (Whether or not)
:: The testimony was given on oath.
:: The oath was Oral or in Writing.
:: The court is properly constituted.
:: The testimony is admissible.
:: The witness is competent or not.
All that matters is that the elements of the offence of Perjury are present. The Elements include:
- The accused must have Knowingly given a false testimony. A true copy of the court’s proceeding may evidence such.
- The false testimony must have been given in a judicial proceeding. A “Judicial Proceeding” was defined in Omoriege V DPP as any proceeding taken in (or before) any court, tribunal, commission… whether the tribunal takes evidence on oath or not.
- The false testimony must touch on a matter which is material to the proceeding or a matter which shall be raised in the proceeding. In R V Onward, a poorly paid clerk was charged for stealing drums of petrol. He was asked if he was the owner of a particular car and he denied. The court held that ownership of the car was material to the proceeding because if he admitted ownership, the prosecution would ask him to prove how he got the car. In R V Baker, the accused was charged for selling beer without licence. He had been charged for the same offence earlier to which he pled guilty. When asked, the accused lied that he never pled guilty. The court held that the statement of denial was material to the case and could amount to perjury.
Note that an offender/accused person cannot be arrested without a warrant nor can he be convicted upon the uncorroborated (unverified) testimony of one witness-R V Ogunubi. Meaning that the testimony of the witness must be corroborated.