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APPLICATION OF THE “DOCTRINE OF LAST SEEN” IN HOMICIDE TRIALS IN NIGERIA CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM
1.1 Background of the Research
The doctrine was stated with much clarity, weight and legal force in the Moses Jua case thus:
The position as firmly settled, is that if Mr. A was last seen alive with or in company of Mr. B and the next thing that happened, was the disappearance of Mr. A, the irresistible inference is that Mr. A was or had been killed by Mr. B. The onus is on Mr. B. to offer an explanation for the purposes of showing that he was not the one who killed Mr. A.
It would seem that the doctrine thrives in hasty conclusions in the sense that once someone disappears, no effort may be made to prove that he is dead before concluding that someone else had killed him. Nonetheless, the “last seen” doctrine is a mere presumption which, like all presumptions, is rebuttable. It means in effect however, that the law presumes that the person “last seen” with the deceased bears the full responsibility for his death if it turns out that the person last seen with him is dead.
In Nigeria, the doctrine is firmly settled, established and/or entrenched, but in other common law jurisdictions, it is applied with caution and flexibility so as to guard against a miscarriage of justice. Applying the doctrine to the law of evidence, the Indian Legal writers , maintained that:
The mere fact that the accused and the deceased were together in the field prior to the occurrence does not by itself lead to irresistible inference that the accused must have murdered the deceased…it could not be deemed to be conclusive unless it is further established that during the interval between the time when they were last seen together and the time at which the victim died, every circumstance was inconsistent with the innocence of the accused. The theory of last seen together is extremely a weak piece of evidence.
This seems to be a better view of the doctrine and its application in deserving circumstances. This is so because, presumptions are created to permit orderly civil and criminal trials. The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Supreme Court of Indiana defined the function and legal significance of presumptions as follows:
…a presumption of law is not evidence nor should it be weighed by the fact finder as though it had evidentiary value. Rather, a presumption is a rule of law enabling the party in whose favour it operates to take his case to the jury without presenting evidence of the fact presumed. It serves as a challenge for proof and indicates the party from whom such proof must be forthcoming. When the opponent of the presumption has met the burden of production thus imposed, however, the office of the presumption has been performed, the presumption is of no further effect and drops from the case.
The problem here is that presumption is too vague a concept upon which to hang the fate of an accused person in capital offences such as murder. Again, it imposes on the accused person, a “reverse burden” of proof by calling on him to prove his innocence and this is inconsistent with our adversary system of criminal justice which imposes a legal burden on the prosecution to prove its case against the accused beyond reasonable doubt. The adversary system preserves the presumption of innocence embedded in our criminal jurisprudence and this is inconsistent with the presumption associated with the “last seen” doctrine which is an offshoot of circumstantial evidence.
There is also the “time-lag” principle which is deeply associated with the “last seen” doctrine though consistently glossed-over by the Nigerian courts in their application of the “last seen” doctrine. The principle runs thus:
The last seen theory comes into play where the time-gap between the point of time when the accused and the deceased were last seen alive and where the deceased is found dead is so small that the possibility of any person other than the accused being the author of the crime becomes impossible. It would be difficult in some cases to positively establish that the deceased was last seen with the accused when there is a long gap and possibility of other persons coming in between exists. In the absence of any other positive evidence to conclude that the accused and the deceased were last seen together, it would be hazardous to come to a conclusion of guilt in those cases”.
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10 Things Your HR Manager Wants You to Know
Some of the most important work in your company, the work that keeps everything running smoothly, doesn’t show up on your supervisor’s to-do list or your company organizational chart. It’s the work done by your human resources manager — and if you want to do right by yourself and your co-workers, it’s also the work you should know about. Here are 10 things that all employees should know about the human resources manager in their organization and what they do every day to keep things on track and running smoothly at work.
1) The manager may have more direct reports than anyone else in the company
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Omicron'unlikely'the last COVID-19 Variant, Says WHO
People stand in line on a busy commercial street to get tested for COVID-19 in Lima, Peru. Photo by: Sadiya Parveen
With billions of people still unvaccinated worldwide, plenty of opportunities remain for the COVID-19 virus to spread and generate new variants, according to WHO officials.
“We hope that that doesn't happen. But at the moment, we're not doing enough to prevent that happening in terms of protecting people, and in terms of distributing vaccines in a way that would assist with reducing the emergence of variants,” Dr. Michael Ryan, WHO executive director for health emergencies, said during a press briefing Thursday.
According to Our World in Data, 9.33 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered globally. But only 58.8% of the global population has received at least one dose. In low-income countries, only 8.8% of the population has received a vaccine.
When the delta variant emerged as a variant of concern, Ryan recalled, several scientists described it as the “fittest” and “best-adapted virus” they’ve ever seen, and that they “cannot see how this virus could adapt anymore.” But now omicron has been shown to be more transmissible than previous variants, including delta.
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“Unfortunately, I think it's very unlikely that omicron will be the last variant that you will hear us discussing. Certainly, the virus continues to evolve,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for COVID-19, at the press briefing.
She said important discussions are taking place on how “much more fit” the COVID-19 virus can become in terms of its transmission and transmissibility. And while the current global focus is on omicron because of how fast it is spreading, “Delta continues to be a variant of concern,” she said, noting that there are currently about 30 “sublineages of delta” that WHO is tracking.
“There's a number of factors that are happening. And the question is … what will happen as this virus continues to evolve? And what will those additional mutations mean?” Van Kerkhove said.
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As humans, we love power. It is appealing, but very addictive. Those in the know, never falter to caution that "power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely.."
Power gets into your head, makes you heady, and you rarely listen to voices of reason, or take advice from those in the lower rungs of power, when you stray, and abuse those powers vested in you. In numerous, cases those who abuse power, and allow it to corrupt them absolutely, began their stint in power as sheep, but the trappings, and allurement of power, changed them into ravenous wolves.
History is bloated with records of leaders who failed to contain themselves, allowed the tentacles of power to strangle, and corrupt their consciences, turning them into power-hungry oligarchs, who became a nemesis to those under their authority.
As the governed, we at times create the Frankenstein monster in leaders, regarding, hailing them as gods.
Lesson: Never venerate, elevate leaders into godly status...lest they turn into dangerous autocrats..
I'm just a simple man..a run-off-the- mill guy, from the tiny kingdom of Swaziland, ruled by an absolute Monarch, King Mswati III. I am a commoner, who happens to be a writer, and following my childhood passion of writing..
I'm sorry, but I abhor any form of injustice, irrespective from whom it comes from - be it from a friend, relative, ruling authorities, etc. I am an advocate, a proponent, a protagonist of peace, and harmony. I will defend with my back against the wall, the underprivileged, the oppressed, and those whose voices are not heard as they cry for justice.
What is happening in this hell-hole of a country..this animal farm, led by oligarchs who only care about power, money and oppressing the people who reluctantly sponsor their opulent lifestyles, is diabolical. It has no place in a modern society, and belongs in medieval times.
The Living God created us all equal, and it is Him and Him alone, we should worship..not mortal man, who was taken from the dust and shall return to dust.
When the Living and Loving God created Man, He commanded, "Subjue the Earth.." He never commanded Man to subdue Man, oppressing him, like what leaders of this wretched country are doing to such a peace loving people, as Swazis.
I hear there is a coming dialogue which has the propensity to make or break our political future. I believe in dialogue.
I believe that when in conflict, human decency demands that we sit down and thrash out our differences, agree to disagree, and ferociously work on reaching a consensus.
I've more or less, studied the mentality of this government, and its leaders. What I have no doubts about is that there is just no way they will negotiate or dialogue in good faith. They have been in power for more than a jubilee of years. They know the perks and benefits of being in power. We all know what power does. It corrupts...
When you're in power, you feel like a god..you command those under you to jump..and they eagerly ask, "how high your Honour".
The wise say, "power corrupts, absolute power corrupts.. ABSOLUTELY"
It remains to be seen if change will finally come in my country..but the will of the people, and good shall triumph over evil in the end...