No Case submission in Nigeria

19 Jun What is a No Case Submission?

No Case Submission in Nigeria

In Nigeria, whenever a person is charged with an offence, the person (referred to as the accused) can either plead guilty or not guilty.

If the accused pleads not guilty for that offence, it is the duty of the Prosecution to provide evidence that all elements of the offence have been committed as well as to prove that the Defendant is the person who committed them. Therefore, the burden of proof lies with them. The burden of proof in criminal trials is beyond reasonable doubt.

During a Criminal Trial in Nigeria, it is the duty of the prosecution to prove that the accused is guilty beyond reasonable doubt this is true to upholding the fundamental principle that everyone is innocent until proven guilty. If there is any possibility of innocence which still exists when the case is over, the court must acquit and find the accused not guilty.

The process of a criminal trial has 2 parts. In the first part, the prosecution presents its case and calls its witnesses. In the second part, the defence presents its own case and calls its own witnesses. In both parts 1 and 2, the lawyer for the other side can cross-examine the witnesses which the party presents to give evidence.

At the end of part 1, after the prosecution has finished presenting its case, if the defence feels that the prosecution has failed to prove its case, then the legal process in Nigeria allows the defence to make an application known as a no case submission.

When a no case submission is made, it basically means that the defendant is asking the court for an acquittal without it having to present a defence. The defendant is literally saying to the court that there is no case to answer i.e. the prosecution has not sufficiently proven the legal threshold to establish the commission of a crime in the court of law.

The submission is reliant on the strength (or rather, the lack thereof) of the prosecution’s evidence.  When used, the results are extremely beneficial to a defendant because, when successful, it means that the case effectively stops without the need for the defendant to call any evidence at all.

The defence makes the plea by filing an application before the court, and if the judge agrees, then the matter is dismissed and the defendant is acquitted without having to present any evidence in their defence. If the judge does not accept the submission, the case continues and the defence must present their case. Therefore, because the defence really loses nothing by filing a no case submission application, it is a very common defence tactic used in criminal cases in Nigeria.

What is the standard for no case submission

The general standard which the courts in Nigeria will use in determining whether a no case submission should be allowed and the accused person acquitted is either where the prosecution has not led sufficient evidence to show that the crime alleged has been committed by the defendant. If this is the case, then the job is easy for the court to uphold a no case submission and acquit the defendant.

The other thing considered by the judge is where there has been sufficient evidence that the crime has been committed, but the evidence which links the accused to the crime is of such a tenuous nature that it does not meet the standard which the court needs to convict, then the judge will have to acquit the accused.

Think about it with this football match analogy, there are 2 halves. In the first half, the prosecution has the ball and are trying to score the defence. They have the entire first half to try to score a few goals. If at the end of the half they have not scored and it is still 0-0, the referee (the judge) will stop the football match and award the victory to the defence (no case submission). However, if the prosecution scores before the end of the half, then the game moves on into the second half and the defence has possession of the ball and try to equalise (or score more goals), if the defence scores as many or more goals than the prosecution scored in the first half, then at the end of the match the judge declares the defence as winners and the accused is acquitted. If the defence does not score any goals or as many goals as the prosecution scored in the first half, the judge will declare the prosecution as winners and convict the accused.

 

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