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PARTY MUST ENDEAVOUR TO LINK DOCUMENTS TO SPECIFIC PLEADING TO AVOID DUMPING DOCUMENTS

Dictum

Surprisingly the documents were dumped on the Court without any witness linking them up documents with the specific complaints of non compliance. It is settled law that despite the tendering of exhibits in proof of a Petition/case, the onus of proving the case pleaded and for which the documents were tendered in evidence, lies on the Petitioner. In the instant Petition, a lot of documents were tendered from the Bar. When a party decides to rely on documents to prove his case, there must be a link between the documents and the specific areas of the Petition. The party must relate each document to the specific areas of his case for which the documents were tendered. Failure to link the documents is fatal and catastrophic as it is in this case. The Supreme Court in the recent case of TUMBIDO V. INEC & ORS. (2023) LPELR-60004 (SC) held Per Jauro, JSC (at P.43, Paras C-F) as follows: “The practice of dumping documents on the Court without speaking to them has been deprecated by this Court on numerous occasions. No Court is entitled to conduct inquisitorial investigations into the contents of a document or purport thereof in its chambers. The Appellant ought to have called a witness to speak to the photographs and video recording before the Court. See MAKINDE V. ADEKOLA (2022) 9 NWLR (PT. 1834) 13; MAKU V. AL-MAKURA (2016) 5 NWLR (PT. 1505) 201; A.C.N. V. NYAKO (2015) 18 NWLR (PT. 1491) 352.”

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

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READING TWO DOCUMENTS TO GET SUFFICIENT MEMORANDUM

Long v. Millar (1879) 4 CPD 450, said Russel, J., in Stokes v. Whicher (1920) 1 Ch 411, 418, comes to this; that, if you can spell out of the document a reference in it to some other transaction, you are at liberty to give evidence as to what that other transaction is, and, if that other transaction contains all the terms in writing, then you get a sufficient memorandum within the statute by reading the two together.’

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WEIGHT CANNOT BE PLACED ON A DOCUMENT TENDERED BY A PERSON WHO IS NOT IN A POSITION TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON THE DOCUMENT

Weight can hardly be attached to a document tendered in evidence by a witness who cannot be in a position to answer questions on the document. One such person the law identifies is the one who did not make the document. Such a person is adjudged in the eyes of the law as ignorant of the contents of the document. Although section 91(2) allows him to tender the document, the subsection does not deal with the issue of weight, which is dealt with in section 92. Weight in section 92 means weight of evidence, which is the balance or preponderance of evidence; the inclination of the greater amount of credible evidence offered in a trial to support one side of the issue rather than the other. (See Black’s Law Dictionary (6ed) page 1594). In view of the fact that cross-examination plays a vital role in the determination of the weight to be attached to a document under section 92, and a person who did not make the document is not in a position to answer questions on it. I see the point made by the Court of Appeal.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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DISCREPANCIES IN NAMES OR DOCUMENTS WITHOUT MORE ARE MERE TRIFLES

Now, here is a man dragging another person to Court over what at best are mere discrepancies in names when he himself is a victim of some discrepancies in his name on Exhibit P2 without any legal consequences whatsoever. Was he also guilty of forgery by the differences in the spelling of his surname in Exhibits P1 and P2 as admitted by him and confirmed by the Court below? Perhaps not. In my finding, these are things which are bound to occur from time to time in human affairs and so long as no criminal intention is imputed and attributed or attributable to them they remain mere trifles tolerated by the society as mere discrepancies. It amounts to no crime of forgery and or false statement at all merely on account of such mere discrepancies. These are mere discrepancies that should not ipso facto without more invoke and ignite grave allegations capable of disqualifying a candidate in law from aspiring to ‘serve his people’. Curiously though as an aside now and no more considering issue three having concluded my consideration of issue three, as I was reading the appellate briefs of counsel, I came across the name of the learned counsel for the 1st Respondent written and signed as ‘J. I. Odibeli Esq,’ then I saw his NBA Seal in the name of ‘Ibezimako Joseph Odibeli, which translates to ‘I. J. Odibelei’ and not ‘J.I. Odibeli.’

– B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Ganiyu v. Oshoakpemhe & Ors. (2021) – CA/B/12A/2021

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EXTRINSIC EVIDENCE NOT TO CONTRADICT WRITTEN INSTRUMENT

Generally, where parties to an agreement have set out the terms thereof in a written document, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to add to, vary from, or contradict the terms of the written instrument.

– Augie JSC. Bank v. TEE (2003)

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READING TWO DOCUMENTS TOGETHER

In Burgess v. Cox (1951) Ch. 383 Harman, J., (as he then was), found that he could read two documents together to remedy the deficiency of the defendant’s signature lacking in the first document relied on as being a memorandum when it was obvious that if the two documents were placed side by side, they referred to the same transaction.

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