Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE IS THE PRIMARY FUNCTION OF A TRIAL COURT

Dictum

“Courts of trial are expected to carry out their sacred duties of review, evaluation and appraisal, as ascription of probative values, when determining cases presented before them, so that as much as possible, cases are decided on admissible and credible evidence. The receipt of relevant evidence is an act of perception, while the evaluation of evidence and findings of facts by a trial Court involves both perception and evaluation. A trial Court that fails in this duty, fails in its duty of being an impartial arbiter in the adversarial system of the administration of justice – Guardian Newspaper V Ajeh (2011) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1256) 574, 582. Thus the evaluation of relevant and material evidence and ascription of probative value to such evidence, both oral and documentary, are the primary functions and within the domain of the trial Court which saw, heard and assessed the witnesses.”

— J.H. Sankey, JCA. Ibrahim Muli v Sali Akwai (2021) – CA/G/423/2019

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

STATUTE SETTING TRIAL TIME LIMIT IS VOID

Bello, JSC, (later CJN, now of blessed memory) in the case of Unongo v. Aku and Ors. (1983) 14 NSCC 563 at 577-578 thus – “One of the powers which has always been recognised as inherent in courts has been the right to control their internal proceedings and to so conduct the same that the rights of all suitors before them may be safeguarded in such a manner that all parties are given ample opportunity to prosecute or defend the cases for or against them without let or hinderance. The old adage that delay of justice is denial of justice has the same force as the maxim that hasty or hurried justice is also a denial of justice. On this account any statute which prescribes time limit within which a trial court must try and determine cases or within which an appeal court must hear and determine appeals is inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 4(8) and 6(9)(b) of the Constitution and is therefore void by virtue of Section 1(3) of the Constitution.”

Was this dictum helpful?

PLEA BEFORE TRIAL COMMENCES

The trial does not commence until the plea is taken.

– Chima Centus Nweze, J.S.C. Independent National Electoral Commission & Anor v. Ejike Oguebego & Ors (2017)

Was this dictum helpful?

WHERE ABSENT PANELIST RELIES ON REPORT OF OTHER COLLEAGUES

In Nwalutu v. NBA & Anor (2019) 8 NWLR Pt.1673 Pg.174 at Pg.195. wherein his Lordship stated thus: “It appears to me, and I so hold, that when an absent panelist relies on the colleague present when a witness (es) testified to render an opinion that such opinion is premised on hearsay evidence and it is perverse. A Decision in the circumstance is nothing but travesty of justice. In such circumstance also, it cannot be said that the person tried by the LPDC had received fair trial. Fair hearing, as this Court has consistently held, involves a fair trial and a fair trial of a case consists of the whole hearing. There is no difference between the two.”

Was this dictum helpful?

WHERE ORAL EVIDENCE IN PRIOR TRIAL MAY BE USED

Ariku v. Ajiwogbo (1962) All NLR (Pt. 4) 630, Ademola CJF (of blessed memory) delivering the judgment of the Supreme Court stated the law as follows:- “This court has frequently directed attention to the practice, now not uncommon of making use of evidence of a witness in another case as if it were evidence in the case on trial. As was pointed out in Alade v. Aborishade (1960) 5 FSC 167 at 171, this is only permissible under section 33 or 34 of the Evidence Act. Where a witness in a former case is giving evidence in a case in hand, his former evidence may be brought up in cross-examination to discredit him if he was lying, but evidence used for this purpose does not become evidence in the case in hand for any other purpose. There are also prerequisites to the making use of the former testimony of a witness; for example his attention must be called to the former case where such evidence was given and he would be reminded of what he had said on the occasion.”

Was this dictum helpful?

ASSESSMENT OF WITNESS IS WITHIN THE PROVINCE OF THE TRIAL COURT

In the case of Afolalu v. The State (2012) vol. 10 LRCNCC 30 at 40, ratio 13; (2010) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1220) 584, when this court held, inter alia, that: “The assessment of credibility of a witness is a matter within the province of the trial court as it is the only court that has the advantage of seeing, watching and observing the witness in the witness box. The court also has the liberty and privilege of believing him and accepting his evidence in preference to the evidence adduced by the defence. On the issue of credibility of witnesses, the appraisal of evidence and the confidence to be reposed in the testimony of any witness, an appellate court cannot on printed evidence usurp the essential function of the trial court which saw, heard and watched the witnesses testify.”

Was this dictum helpful?

WHAT IS A SUMMARY TRIAL IN CRIMINAL CASES?

A summary trial is therefore a short proceeding that does away with the rigours of a full trial, hearing of witnesses or tendering of documents. It is a proceeding that settles a controversy or disposes of a case in a relatively prompt and simple manner. It entails immediate action without following the rigmarole in normal legal procedure. As a matter of procedure, summary trial allows for conviction of an accused person based on his or her admission of guilt to an indictable offence other than capital.

– A. Jauro JSC. Balogun v. FRN (2021)

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.