No Case Submission In Criminal proceedings In Nigeria: When It Is Not Necessary

No Case Submission


A no case Submission generally is an application made by an accused person or counsel on his behalf, praying the court that he has no case to answer

It's ordinarily made at the close of the prosecution's case when the accused has not opened his defence, and the essence is to prevent the accused from proving his innocent as the burden of proof never shift from the prosecution in criminal trials.

In the Nigerian criminal procedure laws, as applicable in various states of the federation, the court is enjoined to consider the evidence of the prosecution at the close of the prosecution's case to see whether or not a prima facial case has been made out against the accused to warrant him opening his defence.

And where the court suo moto founds that a prima facial case has not been made out against the accuse person, it's enjoined under the law to discharge him. Discharge at this stage is discharge on merit which is equivalent to acquittal.

It's not ideal, in all criminal proceedings, to make a no case submission. There're certain things you should consider before making a no case submission.

British practice note, which has been adopted in Nigeria as part of statute of general application, expressly provided circumstances where a no case submission is necessary.

They are where

1.  There has been no evidence to prove an essensial element in the alleged offence
2.  The evidence of witnesses called by the prosecution has been so discredited as a result of cross  examination
3.  The evidence adduced by the prosecution is so manifestly unreliable that no reasonable tribunal            could safely convict on it

This been the general rule, there are still circumstances where application for a no case submission won't be necessary in criminal trial. In circumstances where:


                               

a.  The Prosecution Has proved One Of The Ingrediece of The         Offence

Where the witnesses or either of the witness called by the prosecution has successfully linked the accused person with the offence by adducing evidence that proved all or one of the ingredience of the offence, an application for a no case submission won't fly.

Not making a no case submission in a criminal proceeding doesn't affect your chance of success unless you have a weak defence.

An application for a no case submission, sometimes, weakens or slows down criminal trial. The reason is because judges usually dismiss it, except on special circumstances. They prefer determining criminal case on merit to discharging the accused person without  hearing both sides.

 At the stage of considering an application for a no case submission, the judge is not bound to inquire to see whether the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. He's only enjoined to consider the evidence so far adduced by the prosecution to see whether a prima facial case has been made out against the accused.

Therefore, before you make a no case submission in a criminal proceeding here are what you should do when you think the prosecution has not proved the ingredience of the offence


  • Carefully go through the recorded testimonies of witnesses called by the prosecution and see if their is any evidence linking the accused with the offence.
  • Check the documentary evidence or "proof of evidence" before the court to ascertain if there is anything connecting the accused with the offence.
  • Consider the statement of accused at the police to know whether he made confessional statement at the police.
If you're satisfy that none of the above is before the court, go ahead and make a no case submission.

But if from the above study you're not satisfy, it's better you refrain and open your defence.


                                      

b. Where The Evidence of  Witnesses Called by The             Prosecution Has Not Been Discredited As a Result of Cross-examination

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No case Submission is not necessary where the record of the court shows that evidence of the witnesses called by the prosecution has not been discredited as a result of cross examination.

Even if the witnesses or either of the witness called by the prosecution linked the accused person with the offence, you can still make a no case submission where it's on record that the evidence of witnesses has been discredited as a result of cross-examination.

However, there is need for court record of this fact because you cannot persuade the court to upheld your application for a no case submission on this ground where there is no such record before the it.

You should be sure that the evidence adduce by the witnesses called by the prosecution has been impinged as a result of cross-examination.

 And to ascertain whether the evidence of the witness or witnesses have been discredited, here's how


  • Cross check your record of proceedings with court's record
  • Obtain a certified true copy of the record of proceedings of the court and go through it
  • If you found any line or paragraph where any or witnesses testimony was discredited, underline it and use it while arguing your application.

c. Where The Prosecution Has Adduced Credible And Reliable       Evidence

According to our adopted practice note, a no case submission is necessary where the prosecution evidence is manifestly unreliable.

However, where the prosecution has adduced a credible and reliable evidence in proof of it's case, it's not necessary for the accuse or his counsel to make a no case submission.

For you to know whether or not prosecution has adduced reliable evidence, you should look at the testimony of each of the witnesses and see whether they are coherent.

There need not to be any gap or contradiction in evidence of the prosecution witnesses for it to be reliable.

However, minor contractions  is not sufficient to conclude that the prosecution's evidence is not credible. There should be material contractions in the evidence of the prosecution to render it unreliable.

When you have a chance to make a no case submission on this ground, this's what you should do


  •  Look at the testimony of the witnesses that testified for the prosecution on the whole to see where they contradicted themselves.
  • Weigh the relevance of their testimonies to the charge or allegation against the accused person.
  • Consider the evidential value of the testimonies of the witnesses.
No case submission is desirable in criminal proceedings as it saves time and expenses of the accused and that of the court. The court doesn't need to go into full trial in a frivolous charge.

In spite of the enormous benefits of a no case submission in criminal proceedings, it's not necessary in all circumstance. Where the prosecution witnesses has to adduce evidence to prove the ingredience of the offence, where there is no record of the evidence of the prosecution witnesses having been discredited as a result of cross-examination and where the evidence adduced by the prosecution is credible and reliable, application for a no case submission is not necessary.

lastly you don't need to make a no case submission where there is reliable and credible evidence linking the accused with the offence.