Thursday, 27 October 2016



Amendment V {to the U.S Constitution}  

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation".


The Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights and protects a person from being compelled to be a witness against himself in a criminal case. 

Although the term fifth amendment is alien to Nigerian legal system but has some similarities in concept. For instance it can be easily attributed to the rule of double jeopardy which prohibits the punishment of a person for the same offence of which he has been previously punished. 

Also another similarity can be slightly attached to the foreseen circumstance of an accused refusing to take a plea of 'guilty' or 'not guilty'. However an inquiry would be made to determine the reason for the accused's refusal to take a plea in court. This is not a right but rather an understandable situation. 

In the US, it can be said that a way of reminding a person of his right to the fifth amendment is the reciting of the Miranda right (you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can be used against you in court) to such a person while being arrested and taken into custody before interrogation.  

The closest similarity of the US fifth amendment to a concept in the Nigerian legal practice is the concept of Judge's Rule. These rules were first formulated in 1912 by the justices of the Queen's Bench Division of High Court of England for guidance of the Police were revised in 1964.  These rules are aimed at ensuring that the statements made by accused persons are voluntary. 
The rules are rules of administrative practice and not rules of law. Therefore a breach of the rules will not render an otherwise voluntary confessional statement inadmissible. See R v. Melani ; Abubakar v. State 

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