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Must a Corroborative Testimony/Evidence be Independent?

By Shuaibu Bashir Mukaddam

This write-up will examine what an evidence is, what does the word corroboration means from the legal parlance it requirements when is it done and must it be independent or not. We’ll make reference to the decisions of some of our learned justices.

First and foremost what’s an evidence in the case of ARUM v. NWOBODO (2013) LPELR-SC.172/2004 where the court held that; “In Chukwuogor v. Obiora supra Oputa J.S.C. defined Evidence in these words at pages 477 – 478.”In its broad sense, Evidence encompasses and includes the means employed for the purpose of proving a disputed fact”. Per AKA’AHS, J.S.C. (P. 40, paras. A-B) Per, J.S.C. (P. 0, Para.)

Analogously testimony is an oral statement before a law court to prove a fact.

What’s corroboration?

In the case of THE ADMINISTRATOR GENERAL AND PUBLIC TRUSTEE, DELTA STATE & ANOR v. OGOGO & ANOR (2005) LPELR-CA/B/178/2001 where the court held that; “Corroboration as defined by the appellant in his brief of argument on page 6-7, from Black Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition at page 334 means: “To strengthen; to add weight or credibility to a thing by additional and confirming facts or evidence” and, “the testimony of witnesses is said to be corroborated when it is shown to correspond with the representation of some other witnesses, or to comport with some facts otherwise known or established.”? Per ABBA AJI, J.C.A (P. 24, paras. B-D)

This is a question that’ll generate a lot of controversy everyone may have his opinion on it but as ministers in the temple of justice we have to go with the position of the law for there’s no place for sentiments in the law. The court held it trite and clear in the case of ALO V. THE STATE (2010) LPELR-CA/B/305/2005 where the court held that;
“Corroborative evidence must be independent testimony connecting or linking the accused with the crime he is charged with. It must not only implicate him in the commission of the offence or crime in material particular but also that he actually committed the offence. In considering whether some evidence is corroborative of another, the court must take all the little items of the former together and see if they all add up to corroboration.” Per OMOLEYE, J.C.A (P. 25, paras. E-G).

Also in the case of NGUMA v. AG, IMO STATE (2014) LPELR-SC.319/2011 the court held that;
“It seems to me that the mindset of the appellant’s counsel is that once the confessional statement has its voluntariness put to question, it becomes automatically inadmissible. That in my humble opinion is not the law or the judicial guides at play. See Alarape v The State (2001) FWLR (Pt. 41) 1872, Egboghanome v The State (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt.306) 383; Sule v The State (2009) 17 LRCN 1 at 29. The question that later arose is whether or not Exhibits 1, 2, 5 and 6 corroborated the confessional statement, Exhibit 7. Some conditions must play out for any evidence to be taken as corroborative of the other especially a confessional statement as in this instance. For such evidence it must be an independent testimony, direct or circumstantial, which confirms in some material particular not only that an offence has been committed. The other way to define corroborative evidence is to say that it is that evidence which tend to confirm, support and strengthen other evidence sought to be corroborated. It is not expected that it would be tantamount to a confirmation of the whole evidence given by a witness, rather it must be such as corroborates some material aspects of the charge. I refer to Ogunbayo v The State (2007) 146 LRCN 696. .” Per PETER-ODILI, J.S.C. (P.55 paras. A-G)
Lastly but not the least in the case of DAVOU v. C.O.P, PLATEAU STATE COMMAND (2019) LPELR-CA/J/424A/C/2017;
“In law, evidence in corroboration must be an independent testimony which affects the accused by connecting or tending to connect him with the crime. In other words, it must be evidence which implicates him, that is, which confirms in some material particular not only the evidence that the crime has been committed, but also that the prisoner committed it. The test applicable to determine the nature and extent of the corroboration is thus the same whether the case falls within the rule of practice at common law or in the class of offences for which corroboration is required by statute. The nature of the corroboration will necessarily vary according to the circumstances of the offence charged. It would be fruitless to attempt to distill the kind of evidence that would be regarded as corroboration, let me simply note that corroborative evidence is evidence which tends to show that the story of the accomplice or witness that the accused person committed the crime is true, not merely that the crime had been committed but that, it was committed by the accused. See: IKUMONIHAN V. STATE (2018) LPELR – 44362 (SC); REX V. BASKERVILLE (1916) 2 K.B. 658; OKABICHI & ORS V. STATE (1975) LPELR – 2406 (SC).

In as much as Corroboration is evidence which direct or circumstantial, it is the duty of the Court to ascertain that whatever is being used or regarded as corroboration is independent of the evidence to be corroborated and supports the story of the main evidence to the effect that it renders that story more probable and that it implicates the accused person in some material particular. Accordingly, no stereotyped category of evidence is envisaged and a great deal depends upon the circumstances of each case. See: OMISADE & ORS V. THE QUEEN (1964) 1 ALL N.L.R. 233; OKABICHI & ORS V. STATE (SUPRA); R.V. MADAN (1938) 4 W.A.C.A. 39; OLALEYE V. THE STATE (1970) 1 ALL N.L.R. 300.” Per ONYEMENAM, J.C.A. (Pp. 38-39, Paras. A-D).

It’s trite and clear that for an evidence/testimony to be corroborative it must be independent it must directly link the accused/defendant with the crime he’s being charged with.
We humbly submit


Shuaibu Bashir Mukaddam is an undergraduate student of 200l of Maryam American University Of Niger faculty of law. He is an enthusiastic reader, researcher and legal writer. His interest and vast knowledge in the legal sphere covers all aspect of the law.

Shuaibu Bashir Mukaddam can be contacted via;

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