Radio interview and newspaper report are not always the truth of their contents.

 

Adegbite v. State [2018] 5 NWLR (Pt. 1612) 183 at 204-205, paras. H-A, per Galinje, JSC:

“The lower court was also right when it refused to accord probative value to the newspaper report and radio interview as newspaper report is not always the truth of its contents, and the prosecution had no burden to tender the newspaper report in evidence.”

Notes:

It is common knowledge and also judicially recognised that the contents of media reports are never to be wholly trusted. This is given the fact that these media outfits are more profit-oriented that they often resort to catchy headlines and misleading presentation just to attract readers and patronage. In many cases, decent and proper fact finding exercise is not being embarked upon before a publication is made for public consumption. All of these factors were part of what influenced the decision in the above interesting murder case.

The Appellant was charged with the murder of his friend. The facts accepted by the learned trial Judge and confirmed by the Court of Appeal was that the Appellant bathed the deceased with an acid having laid ambush for him. Shortly before the deceased died, the wife of the deceased (called as one of the witnesses) claimed that her deceased husband had informed her on his sick bed that it was the Appellant who attacked him with acid. She reported the incident to the Police who arrested and charged the Appellant. The Appellant was thereafter convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. The Court of Appeal dismissed the Appellant’s appeal, upholding the decision of the trial Court.  Further appeal to the Supreme Court was dismissed (on ratio 4 to 1) chiefly on the ground that the concurrent finding of facts by the trial Court and Court of Appeal was not to be disturbed.

Eko, JSC who dissented was of the view that there are serious inconsistencies in the evidence of the prosecution witness coupled with the defence of alibi raised but not investigated . The Learned Justice of the Supreme Court reckoned with the report published in The Sunshine Daily Watch, a local newspaper, admitted in evidence, where it was reported that the deceased granted interview to the Newspaper correspondent stating that it was rather an unidentified person that poured acid on him. In all, Eko, JSC found merit in the appeal and discharged and acquitted the Appellant. This dissenting Judgment is highly supported. The majority of the Supreme Court ought to have considered the said serious inconsistencies in the evidence of the prosecution as an exceptional circumstance warranting a departure from the concurrent finding of facts made by the lower Courts.

Beyond that, we have seen one of the effects of the unreliability status of newspaper reports as observed by Galinje, JSC.

 



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has worked with a number of startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.
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