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COURT BE CAREFUL IN ACCEPTING DELAYED EVIDENCE

Dictum

Witnesses have the duty to tell the police as much as they know of a crime at the earliest opportunity in order to be seen as witnesses of truth and a Court of law must be careful in accepting delayed evidence when no satisfactory explanation is given.

– Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)

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EXTRINSIC EVIDENCE NOT TO CONTRADICT WRITTEN INSTRUMENT

Generally, where parties to an agreement have set out the terms thereof in a written document, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to add to, vary from, or contradict the terms of the written instrument.

– Augie JSC. Bank v. TEE (2003)

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TAKING EVIDENCE BY HIGH COURT INSTEAD OF MAGISTRATE COURT

It seems to me that if under the provisions of Order 23, rule 54 of the High Court Rules of Anambra State, 1988 a Magistrate or any officer of the court is permitted to take the evidence of a witness by way of commission, it cannot, with respect, be right to suggest that a High Court Judge, a judicial officer with much higher jurisdiction and status than a Magistrate or any other officer of the court is incompetent to take such evidence unless there exists any law which stipulates to the contrary. I know of no such law and my attention has not been drawn to any in this appeal. I am therefore of the view that the High Court was right by taking the evidence of the fourth defendant by way of commission as urged upon the court by learned Counsel for the appellant.

— Iguh JSC. Chime v Chime (2001) – SC 179/1991

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COURT MAY RELY ON EVIDENCE UNCHALLENGED

It is trite that where evidence tendered by a party to any proceedings was not challenged or put in issue by the other party who had the opportunity to do so, it is always open to the court seised of the matter to act on such unchallenged evidence before it. See Isaac Omoregbe V Daniel Lawani (1980) 3-4 S.C. 108 at 117; Odulaja V Haddad (1973) 11 S.C. 357; Nigerian Maritime Services Ltd. V Alhaji Bello Afolabi (1978) 2 S.C. 79 at 81; Adel Boshali V Allied Commercial Exporters Ltd. (1961) All NLR 917; (1961) 2 SCNLR 322.

— Iguh, JSC. Yesufu v. Kupper Intl. (1996) – SC.302/1989

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EVIDENCE BY WITNESS IN PREVIOUS PROCEEDINGS CANNOT BE USED IN LATER PROCEEDING

It is settled law that evidence given in a previous case cannot be accepted as evidence in a subsequent proceedings except in conditions where the provisions of section 34(1) of the Evidence Act applies. Even where a witness who testified in a previous proceeding testifies again in a subsequent proceeding, the previous evidence has no greater value than its use in cross-examination of the witness as to his credit. Romaine v. Romaine (1972) 4 NWLR (Part 238) 650 at 669; Ayinde v. Salawu (1989) 3 NWLR (Part 109) 297 at 315; Alade v. Aborishade (1960) 5 FSC 167; Irenye v. Opune (1985) 2 NWLR (Part 5) 1 at 6-8 Sanyaolu v. Coker (1983) 1 SCNLR 168.

— F.F. Tabai JSC. Tijani Dada v Jacob Bankole (2008) – S.C. 40/2003

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PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE WHETHER NEW EVIDENCE SHOULD BE ALLOWED

In Comfort Asaboro v. M.G.D. Aruwaji and Anor. (1974) 4 SC 87 at 90-91 (Reprint) this court had cause to consider the principles which are to be taken into consideration in an application to call additional evidence on appeal. The court per Coker JSC said:- “The decision also evidently applied the principles which time honoured practice has established and the matters which the courts have always taken into consideration in the judicious exercise of powers to grant leave to adduce new evidence, namely:- The evidence sought to be adduced must be such as could not have been with reasonable diligence obtained for use at the trial; The evidence should be such as if admitted, it would have an important, not necessarily crucial, effect on the whole case; and the evidence must be such as apparently creditable in the sense that it is capable of being believed and it need not be incontrovertible. See for these observations Roe v. R McGregor and Sons Ltd. (1968) 1 WLR 925 where the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal in Ladd v. Marshall (1954) 3 All ER 745 was considered and applied. Strictly speaking, under our own rule, the discretion to grant leave to adduce new evidence is properly exercised for the “furtherance of justice”. The exercise must however be judicious and it is in this respect that the guidelines set out above have been followed and applied. We are not unmindful of the fact that it would be a dangerous precedent to allow a person who did not call evidence in the lower court, or who, for one reason or another, had called insufficient evidence at the trial, with comparative ease, to bring forward for the first time before this court the evidence which could and should have been adduced before the trial Judge. Such an attitude would be disastrous to the principles of seeing an end to litigation. The stand taken by the Privy Council in the case of Edie Maud Leeder v. Nnance Ellis (1953) at 52 (sic) also illustrates this point. However one looks at the problem, it seems to be generally accepted that the guiding principles have always been applied to the special facts or circumstances of each application before the Court of Appeal, and in every case the question whether or not sufficient diligence has been put into the quest for such evidence has been decided as a matter of fact.”

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COURT WILL ACT ON UNCHALLENGED EVIDENCE

The law is well settled that where the evidence given by a party to any proceedings was not challenged by the opposite party who had the opportunity to do so, it is always open to the court seised of the case to act on such unchallenged evidence before it. See Isaac Omoregbe v. Daniel Lawani (1980) 3 – 4 SC 108 at 117, Odulaja v. Haddad (1973) 11 SC 357, Nigerian Maritime Services Ltd. v. Alhaji Bello Afolabi (1978) 2 SC 79 at 81, Abel Boshali v. Allied Commercial Exporters Ltd. (1961) 2 SCNLR 322, (1961) All NLR 917.

— Iguh, JSC. Olohunde v. Adeyoju (2000) – SC.15/1995

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