The appellant Godfrey Imasuen was charged for the murder of a nine year old girl
Favour Ihoeghilan, under Section 319(1) of the Criminal Code Laws of Bendel
State of Nigeria, 1976. In defence he claimed that he was involuntarily
intoxicated by inhaling the smoke of Indian hemp. And that it was caused by a
group of boys at a canteen in Urora village on 5/4/03 and that he consequently
became confused before he proceeded from there to Aduwawa Area Benin City
from where he lured the deceased, Favour Ihoeghilan into a bush behind the cattle
market, and raped her. The trial court after listening to the evidence adduced
consequently convicted and sentenced the appellant. Dissatisfied, he sought to
overturn the decision of the trial court.
Whether a child is deemed a competent witness in law and under what
circumstances will a child’s sworn testimony not be needed in criminal trials.
The court adopted the decision in Okon v. state (1988) 19NSCC 156, Dagayya v.
State (2006) ALL FWLR (Pt.308) 1212 at pg. 1232-1233 alongside the provision
in Section 154 and Section 182(1) and (2) of the Evidence Act in stating that a
child is a competent witness unless the court considers the child in question to be
prevented from understanding questions put to him by reason of tender years.
The court further restated the position of the law that a child need not give sworn
testimony if the child in the court’s opinion does not understand the nature of an
oath but possesses sufficient intelligence to justify the receipt of his evidence and
understands the duty of speaking the truth.

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