Effect of the phrase “On or About” in a Charge (in Law)
Saheed Afeez Ayinde
In this case, the apex court has been call upon to determine whether the discrepancy as to dates in the written charges against the Appellant (Accused) has occasioned miscarriage of Justice.
The Trial Judge had painstakingly analysis the matter in relation to the phrase used by the prosection in entering the charges before the court.
As stated analysed in the case below;
ANKPEGHER v. THE STATE citation: LOR 9:3:2018SC.529/ 2013
As per JOHN lNYANG OKORO. J.S.C. (Delivering the Leading Judgment):
This is The charge reproduced supra alleged that the offence of murder was committed on or about the 19th October; 2002. I wish to note that all the prosecution witness i.e. PW1, PW2, PW3. PW4, PW5 and PW6 mentioned the date of the offence as
The alleged confessional statement also bears the date of 19/05/2002 as date of the commission of the offence of murder:
The medical report ExhibitA also disclosed probable date of death of the deceased Kyernum Korve as 19/05/2002.
It is therefore an undisputed fact that the date stated on the charge being 19/10/2002 as the date of commission of the offence is at variance with the date the witnesses gave in their testimonies being 19/05/2002 as the date the alleged offence of murder was committed.
The question now is whether the discrepancy as to date has occasioned miscarriage of justice
… when the phrase on or about is used in a charge, it is not necessary to prove the precise date the alleged offence was committed. It appears that except where an accused person could show that he was misled, the error regarding the failure of prosecution to state the precise date in the charge will not be fatal to the prosecutions case.
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