18 Jan



Corroboration may be needed as a matter of law, statutory warning or judicial practice.

Corroboration as a matter of law: the Law requires corroboration in the following instances:

  1. Before a person can be convicted for the offence of Treason and Treasonable felonies: Section 201 EA 2011[1]. Also noted in Enahoro V R, R V Boro.
  2. Before a person can be convicted for Perjury/Procuring the Commission of Perjury: This has been noted in Section 202 EA[2] R V Ogunnubi[3], Section 119 CC, in Agbonavibare V Ogbebor, the court reiterated same.
  3. Before a person can be convicted for exceeding speed limit[4]: Section 203 EA, Nicholas V Penny[5]. With the advancement of computer technology, evidence of computer/device may be adduced to corroborate. E.g. speedometer (as is evident in Nicholas V Penny) or other speed measuring device-See Roberts V DPP, Michael Hirst. Furthermore, Sebastine Tar noted that such computer evidence may not need corroboration.
  4. Before a person can be convicted for Sedition: Section 204 EA. Chike Obi V DPP 2 1963 1 All NLR 277 all provide for this.
  5. Breach of Promise to Marry: Section 197 EA the plaintiff should adduce a corroborative evidence showing that the defendant had actually made the promise. Expressly promising[6], buying gifts and calling defendant fiancé[7] admitting proposal letter[8], etc. have been held to be corroborative evidence. Note however that the fact that the defendant did not answer letters affirming that he had promised to marry the plaintiff is not such corroboration-Section 197 EA Wiedman V Walpole.
  6. Corroboration is needed before the Unsworn Evidence of a Child can be admitted: Section 209(3) Ogunsi V State[9], Mbeli V The State[10].

Corroboration as a matter of statutory warning: corroboration may be required as a matter of statutory warning in the following instances

  1. Evidence of an Accomplice: Section 198(1)(2)[11] provides; …in cases when the only proof against a person charged with a criminal offence is the evidence of an accomplice, uncorroborated in any material particular implicating the defendant, the court shall direct itself that it is unsafe to convict any person upon such evidence-Ozaki V The State[12]. In essence “the court is to regard the evidence of an accomplice with circumspection”-Oyakhire V State. The court is not necessarily bound but it should just warn itself-Bello V State[13]. The following cases have reiterated these points: Posu V The State 2010 All FWLR pt. 546 p 504. Okoro V The State 1998 5 NWLR pt 94 p244. Amadi V State 1993 11 SCNJ 768.

Corroboration as a matter of Judicial Practice: as a matter of judicial practice, the courts have often required corroborating evidence to be adduced:

  1. Before the evidence of a Co-accused can be accepted: same point reiterated in the following cases: Akpan Ukut V State[14] IGP V Akinbayode[15], R V Onuegbe[16].
  2. Before the evidence of an Agent Provocateur can be received in evidence, the courts have usually required corroborative evidence-R V Israel David[17].
  3. Evidence of Tainted Witness[18]: In Ishola V State, it was advised that the court should be careful and circumspective in relying on statements of tainted witnesses. Additional corroborative evidence may be needed-Mailayi V State[19]. See also Olalekan V State[20], Abdullahi V State[21] Orisakwe V State[22] where same point was reiterated.
  4. Sworn Evidence of a Child: we have noted earlier that the law requires corroboration for unsworn evidence of a child. However, in practice, even after the child has been sworn the courts may still be ambivalent. They may still require additional corroborative evidence. See Onyegbu V State[23] Jos NA V Allah Na Gani.
  5. Sexual Offences: The Supreme Court in Okon Iko V State[24] noted that in offences like rape, additional evidence should be adduced. Like medical evidence showing penetration, marks on the victim’s body showing struggles, semen stains, and so on[25]. Because crime requires proof beyond reasonable doubt-R V Seidu[26].
  6. Voluntary Confessions[27]: A defendant can be convicted solely on his confession[28] however, as a matter of practice, it is sometimes desirable to have other evidence which corroborates the confession-Gira V State. In Ubierho V State, Katsina Alu (adopting R V Skyes) noted that the court should ask if the accused’s confession is possible looking at the facts and circumstances of the case. See also Isiaka V State.
  7. In Matrimonial Causes: In Ibrahim V Ibrahim the court held that evidence of parties should be corroborated by independent witnesses.

:: Note that there should be no self-corroboration: Meaning that the evidence sought to be corroborated and the corroborating evidence should be independent of one another-R V Whitehead[29]. R V Baskerville[30], R V Christie[31]. R V Francis Okpanefe[32]. It should be credible and satisfactory-Omisade V Queen. The Evidence should be taken as a whole-Sanni V State.

:: Evidence which requires corroboration cannot corroborate another piece of evidence which must be corroborated. E.g. unsworn testimony of a child cannot be corroborated by another unsworn testimony of a child-R V Manser[33].

:: Failure to corroborate where required by law can lead to the acquittal of the accused or make the matter be resolved in favour of the innocent party-Mbele V The State. Ubierho V State.

[1] A person charged with treason or with any of the felonies mentioned in sections 40, 41 and 42 of the Criminal Code Act cannot be convicted, except on his own plea of guilty, or on the evidence in open court of two witnesses at least to one overt act of the kind of treason or felony alleged, or the evidence of one witness to one overt act and one other witness to another overt act of the same kind of treason or felony-Omisade V R (1964) 1 All NLR 67. Note however; Subsection (2) which provides that; Subsection (1) of this section does not apply to cases in which the overt act of treason alleged is the killing of the President or a direct attempt to endanger the life or injure the person of the President.

[2] A person shall not be convicted of committing perjury or for counseling or procuring Evidence on charge of the commission of perjury, upon the uncorroborated testimony of one witness contradicting |the oath on which perjury is assigned, unless circumstances are proved which corroborated such witness.

[3] 1932 11 NLR 91.

[4] See Crossland V DPP conviction for over speeding based solely on expert opinion of inspector who analysed the skid marks and dent intensity of the car. Court held that it needs corroboration.

[5] 1950 2 KB 466

[6] Bassella V Stern

[7] Wilcox V Godfrey.

[8] Hansen V Dixon.

[9] 1994 NWLR pt 322.

[10] 1990 1 NWLR pt 145 p 484.

[11] (1) An accomplice shall be a competent witness against a defendant, and a conviction is Accomplice, not illegal merely because it proceeds upon the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice-

Provided that

(2) In this section and section 199 of this Act, an accomplice is any person who pursuant to section 7 of the Criminal Code may be deemed to have taken part in committing the offence as the defendant or is an accessory after the fact to the offence, or a receiver of stolen goods.

[12] In this case, the court held that an accomplice includes persons that actually participate in the crime ror accessories after the fact. Section 198(2) regards an accomplice as those that can fall under Section 7 and 10 of the Criminal Code (i.e. actual doers and accessories)-Ogunlana V The State.

[13] In this case, the court noted that failure to give warning before conviction may result in the decision being quashed on appeal.

[14] 1996 NMLR 18, 25.

[15] (1958) WRNLR 161.

[16] 1951 2 FSC 10.

[17] (1960) WNLR 170. An agent provocateur is a person (usually a Law enforcement agent) who instigates for the purpose of entrapment. Setting trap. E.g. a police officer “B” whispering to “A” that he wants to buy cocaine. Then A brings out cocaine and instead of B paying in cash, he handcuffs “A” for prosecution. For example, in Williams V DPP we see that the trap was cartons of cigarettes. See also Brannan V Peek, R V Smith.

[18] In Omotola V State, the court noted that a tainted witness is a person who has a purpose of his own to serve… who has an interest in the litigation-Udo V Eshiet.

[19] 1968 All NLR 117.

[20] 2002 FWLR pt. 91 at 1605.

[21] (2005) All FWLR pt 263 p 698.

[22] (2004) 12 NWLR pt 887 p 258.

[23] 1995 4 NWLR pt 391 p. 510 at 515.

[24] 2001 35 Wrn p.1.

[25] In this case, the accused was a taxi driver. He was alleged to have diverted his route while taking the complainant in his taxi. Allegedly drove her to his house and had carnal knowledge of her. The prosecution brought the evidence that the accused took the complainant to his house. The court held that the evidence was not sufficient.

[26] The accused was alleged to have been found with a minor. He was cleaning her lap. Semen was found on the cloth. The mother of the child claimed/alleged that after examining the little girl’s private part she found that there was also semen and some blood around her private parts. Although the court accepted the testimony of the mother. Some doubt was cast. First, the doctor who examined her claimed that there was penetration and the hymen was ruptured but he could not tell if the rupture was recent. The doctor also averred that the hymen could have been ruptured through some means other than sexual intercourse. The court held that the prosecution was not able to prove beyond reasonable doubt that there was penetration as required by Section 6 of the Criminal Code

[27] We were not taught this one. But reading it would not hurt.

[28] Edamine V State.

[29] 1929 1 KB 102.

[30] 1916 2 KB 6j8, 667.

[31] 1914 AC 545.

[32] (1960) 1 All NLR 420. See also Olaleye V State 1970 1 All NLR 300. Ereku V R (1959) WRNLR 77. R V Kufi 1960 WNLR p 31.

[33] 1934 25 CAR p 1. Also, Jos NA V Allah Na Gani 1961. Odofin Bello V The State. Omisade V Queen.


Quite eccentric really

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