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IT IS THE EVIDENCE ACT THAT DETERMINES ADMISSIBILITY

Dictum

It has to be pointed out here that what determines admissibility or otherwise of a particular piece of evidence or document is the Evidence Act and not the common law. See also R. v. Agwuna (1949) 12 WACA 456 at 458. — S. Galadima, JCA. Jadesimi & Anor. v. Egbe (2003)

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REPORTS BY INTERESTED PERSONS ARE INADMISSIBLE

It is therefore evident from the above that PW4, PW7 and PW8 are persons interested in the outcome of this proceedings. The reports produced by PW4 and PW8 qualify as statements made by persons interested in anticipation or during the pendency of this Petition. As for PW7 she is admittedly an interested party having been a member of and even contested election under the umbrella of the 2nd Petitioner. Her interest is further underscored by the fact that she admitted under cross examination that she was attending court throughout the proceedings prior to her evidence. By virtue of Section 83(3) of the Evidence Act, 2011, the reports tendered by those witnesses which form part of their evidence are inadmissible.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

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UNSIGNED DOCUMENTS NOT ADMISSIBLE

The Supreme Court in Omega Bank (Nig) Plc v. O.B.C. Ltd. [2005] 8 NWLR (Part 928) 547 at 587 Paragraphs C – D per Tobi, JSC (as he then was) the Apex Court held inter alia that: “… It is my view that where a document is not signed, it may not be admitted in evidence. Even if it is admitted in evidence, the Court should not attach any probative value to it. This is because a document which is not signed has no origin in terms of its maker….at page 582 Paragraph A, His Lordship, Tobi, JSC of blessed memory further emphasized that:” A document which is not signed does not have any efficacy in law. As held in the cases examined, the document is worthless and a worthless document cannot be efficacious…”

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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

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ADMISSIBILITY OF A DOCUMENT IS ONE THING; WEIGHT IS ANOTHER THING

The fact that a document has been admitted in evidence, with or without objection, does not necessarily mean that the document has established or made out the evidence contained therein, and must be accepted by the trial Judge. It is not automatic. Admissibility of a document is one thing and the weight the court will attach to it is another. The weight the Court will attach to the document will depend on the circumstances of the case as contained or portrayed in the evidence.

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

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RELEVANCY GOVERNS ADMISSION OF EVIDENCE

When it is a question of admission of evidence, strictly, it is not whether the method by which it is obtained is tortious but excusable, but whether what has been obtained is relevant to the issue being tried. See Kuruma v. R. (1955) AC 197.

— Ogwuegbu JSC. Oshunrinde v Akande (1996) – SC.110/1990

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