RATIO DECIDENDI
1. EVIDENCE - COMPETENCE OF A CHILD: Whether the competency of age is a matter for a child to
understand the nature of an oath

"...there is a long line of authorities establishing that competency is not a matter of age but of
understanding and that if a child understands the nature of an oath, the provisions in question are
completely out of place. See Reg. v. Perkins (1840) 9 C. and P. 395 (or 173 E.R. 884); also R. v. Michael
Moscovitch (1924) 18 Cr. App. R. 37." PER COKER, J.S.C. (P. 14, paras. D-F) (...read in context)

2. EVIDENCE - COMPETENCE OF A CHILD: What a judge is required to do in determining competency of a
child to give evidence

"But, although the judge is not bound to hold a preliminary inquiry, he is nonetheless required to form
an opinion that the child does not understand the nature of an oath in order to make the section
operative. The section has approached the problem in a negative way and obviously says nothing
concerning the child produced and tendered as a witness who understands the nature of an oath. The
section is aimed at a child who does not understand the nature of an oath and what it then says is that
the unsworn evidence of such a child may be received despite the provisions of section 179 if "in the
opinion of the court" he has sufficient intelligence to justify his giving such evidence and understands
the duty of speaking the truth. As the section does not contemplate a child who understands the nature
of an oath, it is difficult to see how section 182 applies to the present case. We think it appropriate to
observe however that where a judge thinks that the case of a child-witness should be taken away from
the provisions of section 182(1), there should be recorded a note to that effect stating that in his
opinion the child is capable of understanding the nature of an oath." PER COKER, JSC (Pp. 14-15, paras.
F-D) (...read in context)

3. PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - IRREGULARITIES IN PROCEEDINGS: Duty of counsel to raise an objection
to any irregularity in the conduct of the proceedings

"It is as well the duty of counsel to raise an objection to any irregularity in the conduct of the
proceedings and especially so when it is clear that a particular step ought to have been taken or a
particular thing done. In the present case, the witness, Agnes Okoye, gave evidence under oath without

Select target paragraph3