Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

INHERENTLY INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE CAN BE EXPUNGED AT ANYTIME

Dictum

Incontestably, if a party fails to register an objection to the admissibility of a document in the bowel of a trial Court, he is estopped from opposing its admission on appeal. This hallowed principle of procedural law is elastic. It admits of an exception. Where a document is inherently inadmissible, as in the instant case, the rule becomes lame. The law grants a trial Court the unbridled licence to expunge admitted inadmissible evidence at the judgment stage. An appellate Court enjoys the same right so far as the document is inherently inadmissible. The wisdom behind these is plain. A Court of law is drained of the jurisdiction to act on an inadmissible evidence in reaching a decision, see Alade v. Olukade (1976) 2 SC 183; IBWA v. Imano Ltd. (2001) 3 SCNJ 160; Durosaro v Ayorinde (2005) 8 NWLR (pt. 927) 407; Namsoh v. State (1993) 5 NWLR (Pt. 292) 129; Abubakar v. Joseph (2008) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1104) 307; Abubakar v Chuks (2007) 18 NWLR (pt. 1066) 389; Phillips v. E.D.C. & Ind. Co. Ltd. (2013) 1 NWLR (pt. 1336) 618; Nwaogu v. Atuma (2013) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1364) 117.

— O.F. Ogbuinya, JCA. Impact Solutions v. International Breweries (2018) – CA/AK/122/2016

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

TWO CATEGORIES OF INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE

It must be borne in mind that there are two categories of inadmissible evidence. Evidence that is absolutely inadmissible in law which is not within the competence of the parties to admit by consent or otherwise. It is a document which is by law inadmissible, see for example James v Mid Motors (1978) 11-12 SC 31; Minister v Azikiwe (1969) 1 All NLR 49; Kale v Coker (1982) 12 SC 252. The second class of inadmissible evidence is, for example, a document which is admissible in law but upon fulfilling certain conditions, parties may by consent admit it notwithstanding the conditions not being fulfilled e.g. the admission of unstamped instrument required to be stamped, see Etim v Ekpe (1983) 1 SC NLR 120, (1983) NSCC 86; Igbodim v Obianke (1976) 9-10 SC 179.

— Musdapher, JSC. Shittu & Ors. v Fashawe [2005] – SC 21/2001

Was this dictum helpful?

A DOCUMENT MARKED REJECTED STAYS REJECTED FOR THE PURPOSE OF THE TRIAL

The well laid down procedure for omitting documents in evidence is for the trial judge to hear arguments for and against the admissibility of the document, then render a Ruling. If the ruling is favourable to the document being admitted in evidence the document is admitted in evidence and marked as an exhibit. If on the other hand the Ruling is unfavourable the document is marked rejected. A document marked as an exhibit is good evidence that the judge is expected to rely on when preparing his judgment. A document tendered and marked rejected cannot be tendered again. Once a document is marked rejected it stays rejected for the purposes of the trial in which it was marked rejected and the defect cannot be cured during the said trial. See Agbaje v. Adigun & Ors (1993) 1 NWLR Pt.269 p.271.

— O. Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Wassah & Ors. v. Kara & Ors. (2014) – SC.309/2001

Was this dictum helpful?

EXTRA JUDICIAL STATEMENT IS INADMISSIBLE EXCEPT TO CONTRADICT

The extra judicial statement of a witness in a criminal trial is inadmissible as evidence for either side. The admissible evidence is the evidence on oath in open Court by the witness which is subject to cross examination by the adverse party. The only time when an extra judicial statement of a witness is admissible is where a party seeks to use it to contradict the evidence of a witness already given on oath.

– Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)

Was this dictum helpful?

COURT CAN ONLY ACT ON ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE

There is no doubt, however, that a court is expected in all proceedings before it to admit and act only on evidence which is admissible in law (i.e. under the Evidence Act or any other law or enactment relevant in any particular case) and so if the court should inadvertently admit inadmissible evidence it has a duty generally not to act upon it. When, however, inadmissible evidence is tendered it is the duty of the opposite (or adverse) party or his counsel to object immediately to the admissibility of such evidence; although if the opposite party should fail to raise objection in such circumstances the court in civil cases may (and, in criminal case, must) reject such evidence ex proprio motu. On appeal, however, different considerations arise where a party failed to take objection to inadmissible evidence in the court of trial. It has frequently been stated (as, indeed, learned counsel for the appellant has done) that where a matter has been improperly received in evidence in the court below, even when no objection has been there raised, it is the duty of the court of appeal to reject it and to decide the case on legal evidence.

— Ogundare, JSC. Kossen v Savannah Bank (1995) – SC.209/89

Was this dictum helpful?

RELEVANCY GOVERNS ADMISSIBILITY

In civil proceedings every fact which is pleaded and is relevant to the case of either of the parties ought to be admitted in evidence. The denial of making the document by the respondent ought to affect weight not admissibility. In the instant case, the trial court considered the weight to be attached to the document instead of its relevance which ought to have been considered at that stage of the proceedings when the document was tendered. See Ogunbiade v. Sasegbon (1968) NMLR 233. Thanni v. Saibu (1977) 2 SC 89 @ 116. Monier Construction co. Ltd v. Azubuike (1990) 3 NWLR (Pt. 136) 74. Fadlallah v. Arewa Textiles Ltd (supra).

— A. Jauro, JCA. Chevron v. Aderibigbe (2011) – CA/L/76/04

Was this dictum helpful?

A DOCUMENT WHICH IS CONSISTENT WITH THE PLEADINGS IS ADMISSIBLE

A document is admissible in evidence if it is relevant to the facts in issue and admissible in law. The converse position is also the law, and it is that a document which is irrelevant to the facts in issue is not admissible. Documents which are tendered to establish facts pleaded cannot be rejected on the ground of irrelevancy in so far as they confirm the facts pleaded. See Oyetunji v. Akaniji (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 42) 461. In other words, a document which is consistent with the pleadings is admissible, if the document is admissible in law. —

N. Tobi JSC. Musa Abubakar v. E.I. Chuks (SC.184/2003, 14 DEC 2007)

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.