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JUDGE MUST EVALUATE THE EVIDENCE

Dictum

The justice of a case and statutory requirements will not be met if the trial Court considers only one side of a case. Adequate consideration must be given to both sides. In discharging this duty, the Judge must evaluate all the evidence. It is not the justice of a case if the Judge, without evaluating the evidence, holds that he believes one side and disbelieves the other. Only an evaluation of the evidence will logically lead to his reasons for believing or disbelieving. However, Judges differ in style. Nevertheless, whichever style a Judge uses or adopts, the important thing is that he considers all the evidence before him by evaluation before arriving at his conclusion which is the finding.

– Sankey JCA. Abdul v. State (2021)

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ONLY DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE CAN CONTRADICT DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

However the conflict is not strong to hold his evidence is of no value when the documentary evidence speaks for itself. It is trite the best evidence to challenge documentary evidence is same Documentary evidence. – Nwodo, JCA. OLAM v. Intercontinental Bank (2009)

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COURT CANNOT PICK BETWEEN TWO CONTRADICTING EVIDENCE

The law is trite that where there are material contradictions in the evidence adduced by a party, the court is enjoined to reject the entire evidence as it cannot pick and choose which of the conflicting versions to believe or follow. See Mogaji v. Cadbury (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt. 7) 393, Okezie Victor Ikpeazu v. Alex Otti & Ors (2016) LPELR-40055 (SC), (2016) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1513) 38; Doma v. INEC (2012) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1317) 297 at 322 – 323 paragraphs G-C, Muka v. The State (1976) 9 – 10 SC (Reprint) 193 at 205, Onubogu v. The State (1974) 9 SC 1 at 20, Salami v. Gbadoolu & Ors (1997) 4 NWLR (Pt. 499) 277.

— Okoro, JSC. Anyanwu v. PDP (2020) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1710) 134

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IN LAND CASES THE PLAINTIFF MUST SUCCEED ON ITS OWN CASE

In land cases that the plaintiff when claiming a declaration of title must succeed on the strength of his case. The onus lies on the plaintiff to satisfy the court that he is entitled on the evidence brought by him to the declaration of title claimed. The plaintiff must rely on the strength of his case and not on the weakness of the defendant’s case. If this onus is not discharged, the weakness of the defendant’s case may not generally help him and the proper judgment will be for the defendant. Where, however, the case of the defendant lends support to the case of the plaintiff, it is recognised that the court cannot ignore it in arriving at a conclusion as to which side to believe.

– Iguh, JSC. Clay v. Aina (1997)

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PLAINTIFF MUST RELY ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS CASE

In Ngene v. Igbo (2000) 4 NWLR (Pt. 651) 131 at 142, this Court, per Ogundare, JSC said: “A long line of cases beginning with Kodilinye v. Mbanefo Odu (1935) 2 W.A.C.A. 336 has laid it down that in a claim for declaration of title the onus is on the plaintiff to prove his case. He must rely on the strength of his own case and not on the weakness of the defence – Jules v. Ajani (1980) 5/7 SC 96 except of course where the weakness of the defendant’s case tends to strengthen plaintiff’s case – Nwagbogu v. Ibeziako (1972) Vol. 2 (Pt.1) ECSLR 335, 338 SC or where the defendant’s case supports his case – Akinola v. Oluwo (1962) 1 SCNLR 352 (1962) 1 All NLR 224 (1962) (Pt. 1) All NLR 225 all of which is not the case here.”

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CLAIMANT CAN RELY ON EVIDENCE OF THE DEFENDANT

The position of the law is that the Claimant is entitled to rely on the evidence put forward by the Defendant. See ODUTOLA V. SANYA (2008) ALL FWLR (PT. 400) 780 AT 793, PARAS. F – G (CA) where it was held that “… if the Defendant’s evidence supports that (the case) of the Plaintiff, he is entitled to rely on same to fortify his case. See Kodilinye v. Odu (1935) 2 WACA 336; Akinola v. Oluwo (1962) 1 All NLR 224″.

— E.N. Agbakoba, J. Igenoza v Unknown Defendant (2019) – NICN/ABJ/294/2014

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QUALITY OF EVIDENCE IS MORE RELEVANT THAN THE QUANTITY

The first point that must be made is that a court of law needs not take into account the number of witnesses for each side to a dispute as a relevant factor in deciding which side to succeed. What is primarily relevant is the quality of the evidence adduced before the court. In this regard, Section 179(1) of the Evidence Act provides as follows:- “179(1) Except as provided in this section, no particular number of witnesses shall in any case be required for the proof of any fact.”

— Iguh, JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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