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DUMPING OF DOCUMENTS ONLY GOES TO WEIGHT TO BE ATTACHED

Dictum

The simple and straightforward answer to this argument is that the issue of dumping of documents on court, which expression in any case suggests that the documents so dumped are already in evidence before the court, only goes to the weight to be attached to the documents by the court. On this reasoning, this ground of the objection is rejected and overruled.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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APPEAL COURT CAN EVALUATE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

Very much aware of the findings of facts by the two lower courts in this matter, I must state, all the same, that where the evidence to be evaluated is mainly documentary as here, this court is as in good a vintage position as the trial court. – Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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OBJECTION TO SPECIFIED DOCUMENT

An objection to one specified document cannot be taken as an objection to another document bearing a totally different date. – Obaseki, JSC. Obiora v. Osele (1989) – SC.70/1987

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WEIGHT CANNOT BE PLACED ON A DOCUMENT TENDERED BY A PERSON WHO IS NOT IN A POSITION TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON THE DOCUMENT

Weight can hardly be attached to a document tendered in evidence by a witness who cannot be in a position to answer questions on the document. One such person the law identifies is the one who did not make the document. Such a person is adjudged in the eyes of the law as ignorant of the contents of the document. Although section 91(2) allows him to tender the document, the subsection does not deal with the issue of weight, which is dealt with in section 92. Weight in section 92 means weight of evidence, which is the balance or preponderance of evidence; the inclination of the greater amount of credible evidence offered in a trial to support one side of the issue rather than the other. (See Black’s Law Dictionary (6ed) page 1594). In view of the fact that cross-examination plays a vital role in the determination of the weight to be attached to a document under section 92, and a person who did not make the document is not in a position to answer questions on it. I see the point made by the Court of Appeal.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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DOCUMENTS ARE ALLOWED TO SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

In my view this is the best starting point because words in a document are allowed to speak for themselves and unless a statement will lead to ambiguity or absurdity words are to be interpreted and understood based on their ordinary grammatical con or meaning.

– A.A.B. Gumel, JCA. Alechenu v. AG Benue (2011) – CA/J/220/2002

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PARTY MUST ENDEAVOUR TO LINK DOCUMENTS TO SPECIFIC PLEADING TO AVOID DUMPING DOCUMENTS

Surprisingly the documents were dumped on the Court without any witness linking them up documents with the specific complaints of non compliance. It is settled law that despite the tendering of exhibits in proof of a Petition/case, the onus of proving the case pleaded and for which the documents were tendered in evidence, lies on the Petitioner. In the instant Petition, a lot of documents were tendered from the Bar. When a party decides to rely on documents to prove his case, there must be a link between the documents and the specific areas of the Petition. The party must relate each document to the specific areas of his case for which the documents were tendered. Failure to link the documents is fatal and catastrophic as it is in this case. The Supreme Court in the recent case of TUMBIDO V. INEC & ORS. (2023) LPELR-60004 (SC) held Per Jauro, JSC (at P.43, Paras C-F) as follows: “The practice of dumping documents on the Court without speaking to them has been deprecated by this Court on numerous occasions. No Court is entitled to conduct inquisitorial investigations into the contents of a document or purport thereof in its chambers. The Appellant ought to have called a witness to speak to the photographs and video recording before the Court. See MAKINDE V. ADEKOLA (2022) 9 NWLR (PT. 1834) 13; MAKU V. AL-MAKURA (2016) 5 NWLR (PT. 1505) 201; A.C.N. V. NYAKO (2015) 18 NWLR (PT. 1491) 352.”

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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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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