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DOCUMENTS INADMISSIBLE WHERE MAKER IS INTERESTED PARTY AND MADE DURING LIS PENDENS

Dictum

By Section 83(3) of the Evidence Act 2011, documents are inadmissible in Court where the maker is an interested person and had made the documents when the proceedings are pending or anticipated.

– Yahaya, JCA. Petroleum Resources v. SPDC (2021)

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APPEAL COURT HAS THE POWER TO AMEND PARTIES CAPACITY

See, Lawrence Elendu and others v. Felix Ekwoaba (1998) 12 NWLR (pt. 578) 320 at 331 – 332 where this court, per Onu J.S.C., succinctly put the proposition of law under consideration as follows: – “Once the pleadings and evidence show conclusively a representative capacity and the case was fought throughout in that capacity, the trial court can justifiably properly enter judgment for and/or against the party in that capacity even if an amendment to reflect that capacity had not been applied for and obtained. Moreover, an appeal court has the power in the interest of justice to amend the parties’ capacity in the writ of summons and to enter judgment for them accordingly.”

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DOCUMENT BEING ALLEGED MUST BE PROVED

While oral agreement has the legal capacity to re-order or change the contents of an earlier written agreement, to satisfy the basic requirements of an agreement, the party alleging such agreement must prove it. See sections 135, 136 and 139 of the Evidence Act.

– Tobi JSC. Odutola v. Papersack (2007)

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ADMISSIBILITY IS BASED ON RELEVANCE; HOW OBTAINED IS IMMATERIAL

Kuruma, Son of Kaniu v. The Queen (1955) A.C. 197 at p.203, observed. “In their Lordships’ opinion the test to be applied in considering whether evidence is admissible is whether it is relevant to the matter in issue. If it is, it is admissible and the court is not concerned with how the evidence is obtained. While this proposition may not have been stated in so many words in any English case, there are decisions which support it, and in their Lordships’ opinion it is plainly right in principle. There can be no difference in principle for this purpose between a civil and a criminal case. No doubt in a criminal case a judge always has a discretion to disallow evidence if the strict rule of admissibility would operate unfairly against an accused.”

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FAIR HEARING NOT BREACHED WHEN A DOCUMENT IS EXPUNGED BY TRIAL JUDGE

I have seen in recent times counsel forcing into cases the principles of fair hearing even when they are so distant from the case. The principles of fair hearing will not be invoked in favour of a party where the trial Judge correctly expunges an exhibit earlier admitted. It is only when the document is wrongly or wrongfully expunged from the record that a party can be heard to canvass to an appellate court that he was denied fair hearing. – Niki Tobi, JSC. Brossette v. Ilemobola (2007)

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DESPITE RELEVANCY, DOCUMENT MAY BE INADMISSIBLE BY OPERATION OF LAW

Section 1 of the Evidence Act is to the effect that evidence may be given of the facts in issue and relevant fact. Proviso (b) thereto is categorical that the Section shall not enable any person to give evidence of a fact which he is disentitled to prove by any provision of the law for the time being in force. There is no doubt that by virtue of Section 2 of the Evidence Act that a piece of evidence excluded either by the Act itself or any other legislation validly in force in Nigeria cannot be admissible in evidence. It is therefore, not only relevancy that governs admissibility. A piece of evidence may be relevant and yet could, by operation of law, be inadmissible.

— E. Eko, JSC. Kekong v State (2017) – SC.884/2014

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ONLY PARTIES TO A DEED CAN SUE

There can be no doubt about the general position that, under English law, a person who is not a party to a deed cannot sue to set it aside or to have it declared null and void: only parties to the deed can do so. This is because the remedy is basically equitable in origin and, as equity acts in personam, the question of cancellation or setting aside of a deed which has been signed, sealed, and delivered was strictly a matter between the parties to the deed. It was possible, on grounds of fraud or constructive fraud committed upon one of the parties to have the deed set aside or ordered to be delivered up for cancellation by order of court.

– Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Adejumo v. Ayantegbe (1989)

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