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DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE WEIGHS ORAL TESTIMONY

Dictum

The Documentary evidence lends weight to oral testimony. It serves as an action from which oral testimony is weighed for good measure. – Nwodo, JCA. OLAM v. Intercontinental Bank (2009)

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NO LAW PROHIBITS RELATIONS FROM TESTIFYING IN A CRIMINAL TRIAL

There is no law, it should be pointed out, which prohibits relations of the victim of a crime or otherwise from testifying for the prosecution in a case against an accused person charged in the commission of such crime. As a result, a witness cannot properly be described and treated as a tainted witness by reason only of his blood, marriage or other relationship with the victim of the crime in respect of which he testified as a witness for the prosecution.

– M.L. Garba JCA. Odogwu v. Vivian (2009) – CA/PH/345/05

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READING TWO DOCUMENTS TOGETHER

In Burgess v. Cox (1951) Ch. 383 Harman, J., (as he then was), found that he could read two documents together to remedy the deficiency of the defendant’s signature lacking in the first document relied on as being a memorandum when it was obvious that if the two documents were placed side by side, they referred to the same transaction.

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TENDER DOCUMENT FROM THE BAR – PARTY WHO MAKES DOCUMENT MUST BE CALLED TO TESTIFY

Abubakar v. INEC [2020] 12 NWLR (Pt. 1737) 37 @ p. 110: “Before I conclude on this issue, let me state that whenever documents are tendered from the Bar in election matters, the purport is to speed up the trial in view of time limitation in election matters. Such tendering is not the end itself but a means to an end. The makers of such tendered document must be called to speak to those documents and be crossexamined on the authenticity of the documents. The law is trite that a party who did not make a document is not competent to give evidence on it. It is also the tested position of the law that where the maker of the document is not called to testify, the document would not be accorded probative value by the Court. That in deed is the fate of exhibits P80 and P24… Finally, on this issue, it was contended by the appellants that the variation in the names of 2nd respondent on Exhibits R19 and R21 makes his relationship with the two documents doubtful. Is “Mohammed” and “Muhammadu” the same name and belong to the 2nd respondent? The Court below made an elaborate discussion on the issue and concluded that RW5 gave explanation on the names and stated that they are the same…. For me, as the appellants failed to prove that any of the documents belong to another person and as nobody has come out to claim any of the two exhibits, I do agree with the explanation given by the RW5 and the conclusions of the Court below that both names “Mohammed” and “Muhammadu” as contained in exhibits R19 and R21 belong to the 2nd respondent. On this note, I resolve issues one and two against the appellants.”

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THERE NEED NOT BE REFERENCE TO OTHER DOCUMENT TO CONSTITUTE A SUFFICIENT MEMORANDUM

Timmins v. Moreland Street Property Co. Ltd. (1958) Ch. 110 which shows the relaxation of the earlier rules and that there need not be a specific or express reference from one document to the other document in order to constitute a memorandum required under the Statute of Frauds as is sufficient if by necessary implication there should be reference from one to the other. Jenkins L.J., (as he then was), said at page 130: “The rule has no doubt been considerably relaxed since Peirce v. Corf LR. 9 QB. 210 was decided in 1874, but I think it is still indispensably necessary, in order to justify the reading of documents together for this purpose, that there should be a document signed by the party to be charged, which, while not containing in itself all the necessary ingredients of the required memorandum, does contain some reference, express or implied, to some other document or transaction. Where any such reference can be spelt out of a document so signed, then parol evidence may be given to identify the other document referred to, or, as the case may be, to explain the other transaction, and to identify any document relating to it. If by this process a document is brought to light which contains in writing all the terms of the bargain so far as not contained in the document signed by the party to be charged, then the two documents can be read together so as to constitute a sufficient memorandum for the purpose of Section 40.”

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HOW CONTENTS OF A DOCUMENT MAY BE PROVED

Goodwill & Trust Investment Ltd & Anor. vs. Witt & Bush Ltd (2011) 8 NWLR Part 1250 page 500 at 533, where Onnoghen, J.S.C. at page 533 stated thus: “it is settled law that contents of a document can be proved in a proceeding by tendering the original documents or where the original is unavailable by a certified true copy of the said original as secondary evidence of the contents of the said original.”

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TESTIFYING IN NATIVE LANGUAGE IS NOT PROOF OF ILLITERACY

It is also imperative to note that the fact that a witness opted to testify in his native language, is not a conclusive evidence that he is an illiterate. He may choose to do so because he feels much comfortable expressing himself in his mother-tongue, and not because he did not know how to write or read.

– T.N. Orji-Abadua, JCA. Kabau v. Rilwanu (2013) – CA/K/179/2001

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