THE QUEEN V. ZAKWAKWA OF YORRO
In the Supreme Court of Nigeria
March 9, 1960
Case Number: FSC. 417/1959
ADEMOLA, CHIEF JUSTICE, NIGERIA
BRETT, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
HUBBARD, JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
ZAKWAKWA OF YORRO
HUBBARD, F.J (Delivering the Judgment of the Court):
This is an appeal by Zakwakwa of Yorro against his conviction on a charge of murder. The appeal succeeds on two grounds.
In the first place, the appellant was charged in the information with murdering a woman named Zonvanya on some day in the month of June 1959. The evidence for the prosecution, however, is of the murder of one Zonvanya on 8th January, 1959. L/Cpl. Umoru Gwanmare Zinna and Isaac Pim, the S.U.M. Dispensary Attendant at Zinna, both say they saw the dead body of Zonvanya, the former on 8th January 1959, the latter on 9th January. This is not a case in which it is obvious that there has been some clerical error or where an illiterate witness’s use of the name of a month, which he does not understand, can be corrected by a reference in his evidence, say, to some well-known season of his agricultural year. Whatever may be the case with LJCpl. Umoru, the Dispensary Attendant, Isaac Pim, was presumably sufficiently literate to know the names of the months. Moreover, in the statement of the appellant (Exhibit 3A) the appellant’s ad-mission of striking Zonvanya refers specifically to 8th June, 1959. The Zon-vanya whose body the Dispensary Attendant saw. Secondly, there is considerable doubt whether the statement of the ap-pellant, which is the only direct evidence of his striking Zonvanya, was prop-erly proved. The appellant made it in Mumuye. According to the evidence of L/Cpl. Umoru and UCpl. Sabana Jalingo, it was L/Cpl. Umoru who translated from Mumuye to Hausa. The Hausa version was recorded by U Cpl. Sabana.
According to the English version (Exhibit 3A) of the statement, however, which is certified as a correct translation by Cpl. Adeyi Ajumbi, it was P.C. Musa Sansidang who translated from Mumuye to Hausa, and Exhibit 3A purports to show that P.C. Musa signed below the Hausa version and above the signature of L/Cpl. Sabana (at that time a police constable) who recorded the Hausa version. It seems extremely unlikely that LJCpl. Sabana would have allowed any one except the actual interpreter to sign under the words “Interpreted by me.” If it was P.C. Musa who did the interpretation, and not L/Cpl. Umoru, then since P.C. Musa was not called as a witness and subject to cross-examination, the Hausa version and the English version are hearsay.
For these reasons we yesterday allowed this appeal, set aside the conviction and discharged the appellant.