Home court process DOCTRINE OF LAST SEEN



Saheed Afeez Ayinde


The Administration of Justice in Criminal matters can be exhaustively Herculean when compared with Civil matters. This Criminal matters are always treated accordingly. Hence, differently as it appears before the court.

In survival of this rigorous task, many principle have been put in place. Amongst which is the Doctrine of Last Seen. This Doctines will always come in force where there is absence of Direct Evidence but Circumstantial Evidence.

This Circumstantial evidence has to do with linking of pieces of facts together inorder to affirm the guilt of an accused person. Amongst the Germane elements of this type of evidence however is the Doctrine of Last Seen which connote that the Last person seen in the crime scene, before it was committed, is presumed to be Guilty of the crime. In another words, Inter alia, the last person seen with a stolen a property in the of Theft or last seen with the deceased in the case of Murder.

This Doctrine was echoed in the cited case below;

KOLADE V. STATE LOR2017 SC.579/2015

Before the learned superman per AMIRU SANUSI, J.S.C.:

The prosecution/respondent at the trial therefore relied on circumstantial evidence especially the Doctrine of last seen. This doctrine simply means that the law always presumes that the person last seen with the deceased is presumed to be responsible for his death, provided the circumstantial evidence is overwhelming and leads to no other person or persons but him.

As it has been confirmed by the available evidence that the deceased was with the appellant up to the time of his death then the doctrine of last seen obviously counts or applies against him. Moreso, there is a confessional statement voluntarily made by the appellant which supported the presumption of his guilt by the application of doctrine of last seen, as well as the evidence of his own brother PW1 all of which corroborated and supported his responsibility in causing the death of their deceased father.

See Moses Jua v State (2010) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1184)

21; Archibongv State (2006) 14 NWLR (Pt 1000) 249.

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