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HEARSAY DOES NOT ARISE FROM SECTION 84 EVIDENCE ACT 2011

Dictum

The authentication required by Section 84 of the Evidence Act, in the circumstances the video clips in issue were made, is statements assuring the court that they are in the exact same state they were in the internet from where Dr Ter (P.W.19) downloaded them to his laptop computer and subsequently to his flash drives before bringing them to this court. That much is evident in the contents of Dr Ter’s Certificate in Exhibit PAF 4B above. For the same reason, the argument that Dr Ter is not in a position to answer questions on the said clips and so his evidence on them is hearsay is also non sequitur.

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

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REASONS FOR REJECTION OF HEARSAY EVIDENCE

From all the authorities, the salient reasons which appear for the rejection of hearsay evidence include the following: a) That the maker or originator of the statement was not under oath when he made it. b) That there is no opportunity for the cross examination of the maker; c) The likelihood of depreciation of the truth or accuracy of the facts in the process of repetition by the witness reporting it. d) The Court would not have the opportunity to observe the demeanour of the maker as a witness since it is not a direct evidence from him.

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

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HEARSAY EVIDENCE NOT ADMISSIBLE

In JAMB V. ORJI (2008) 2 NWLR (PT. 1072) 552, the Court held: “What then is hearsay? Evidence of a statement made to a witness by a person who is not himself called as a witness may or may not be hearsay. It is hearsay and inadmissible when the object of the evidence is to establish the truth of what is contained in the statement. It is not hearsay and admissible when it is proposed to establish by evidence not the truth of the statement but the fact that it was made.” See also UTTEH V. STATE (1992) LPELR6239; UKUT V. STATE (1995) LPELR-3357(SC); KASA V. STATE (1994) LPELR-1671 (SC), BUHARI V. OBASANJO (2005) LPELR-815 (SC).

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HEARSAY EVIDENCE WHEN WITNESS IS NOT THE MAKER

It is trite law that evidence of a witness who is not the maker of such statement is hearsay evidence and generally not admissible. See Sylvester Utteh v State (1992) 2 NWLR part 223-257, SUBRAMANIAN VS PUBLIC PROSECUTOR (1956) 1 WLR 965. State v Masiga (2017) – SC

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HEARSAY RULE EXCEPTED IN TESTIMONY GIVEN BY ANY COMPANY EMPLOYEE

In Ishola v. Societe Generale Bank Ltd. (1997) 2 NWLR (Pt. 488) 405, the apex Court held: it cannot be over emphasized that a company being a legal person or a juristic person can only act through its agents or servants and any agent or servant of a company can therefore give evidence to establish any transaction entered into by that company. Where the official giving the evidence is not the one, who actually took part in the transaction on, behalf of the company, such evidence is nonetheless relevant and admissible and will not be discountenanced or rejected as hearsay evidence. The fact that such official did not personally participate in the transaction on which he has given evidence may in appropriate cases, however, affect the weight to be attached to such evidence, Kate Enterprises Ltd. v. Daewoo (Nig.) Ltd. [1985] 2 NWLR (Pt. 5) 116; Anyaebosi v. R. T. Briscoe (Nig) Ltd. [1987] 3 NWLR (Pt. 59) 84; Chief Igbodim and Ors. V. Chief Ugbede Obianke (1976) 9-10 SC 178, 187 etc.

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MEANING OF HEARSAY

By the hearsay rule, an assertion other than one made by a person while giving oral evidence in Court is inadmissible as evidence of the facts asserted. In very simple terms, hearsay evidence is any statement made out of Court but offered in Court to prove the truth of the facts asserted in Court. It is testimony or documents quoting people who are not present in Court, making it difficult to establish its credibility or to test it by cross examination. It is hearsay if the evidence seeks to establish the truth of a statement and not merely the fact that it was made.

— O.A. Otisi, JCA. Brila Energy Ltd. v. FRN (2018) – CA/L/658CA/2017

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NATURE OF HEARSAY EVIDENCE – RATIONALE FOR HEARSAY EVIDENCE EXCLUSION

Now, the law is settled that any statement made to a witness by a person who is not himself called as a witness is hearsay if the statement seeks to establish the truth of what is contained therein and therefore inadmissible in evidence pursuant to Section 77 of the Evidence Act. This is because such evidence which consists of a retell of a story told by another person would not be direct oral evidence of the fact in respect of which it is given. Put simply, it would be a tale retorted. The rationale for the rejection of such story telling was beautifully stated by EJINWUNMI JSC in the case of EJIOFOR V. STATE (supra) and quoted by the learned counsel for the Appellant in the Appellant’s brief. I can’t resist reproducing it here. At page 221 of the report, the learned JSC put the rationale thus:- “The hearsay rule is a very salutary rule indeed. It is a rule, which is grounded upon commonsense as the focus of it is to prevent a person from being accused or found guilty of an offence, which he did not commit. It is a self-evident fact; malevolent people could manufacture such evidence as they would to falsely accuse persons of offences, which they did not commit. By reason of this rule, Courts are enjoined and indeed under a duty not to accept and/or convict an accused person upon testimony of witnesses who did not see, hear, or had perceived by any other sense or in any other manner, the facts given in their testimony at a criminal trial of an accused person, as in the instant case or even in a civil case. This rule except for such exception as res gestae rule and certain recognized statutory exceptions which we are not concerned with in this case, is mandatory for all Courts. Should a trial Court convict an accused person upon evidence adjudged to be hearsay evidence, an appellate Court may quash such convictions, if there is no other evidence upon which the conviction of the accused could be properly and safely convicted?”

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

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