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PUBLIC DOCUMENT CERTIFIED IS ADMISSIBLE THROUGH A PARTY WHO IS NOT TO THE CASE

Dictum

By virtue of the provisions of Section 102(b) of the Evidence Act, 2011, public documents include public records kept in Nigeria of private documents. See: ONWUZURUIKE v EDOZIEM & ORS (2016) LPELR 26056(SC) at pages 10 – 11, paras. F-B, where the Supreme Court, per Onnoghen, JSC held that a private document sent to the Police formed part of the record of the Police and is consequently a public document within the provisions of Section 109 of the old Evidence Act, now Section 102 of the extant Evidence Act, 2011. It is also trite that a public document duly so certified, is admissible in evidence notwithstanding that it is not tendered by the maker. Indeed, a certified true copy of a public document can be tendered by person who is not a party to the case. See: MARANRO v ADEBISI (2007) LPELR-4663(CA); DAGGASH v BULAMA (2004) 14 NWLR (Pt. 892) 144 at 187; and MUSTAPHA SHETTIMA & ORS v ALHAJI BUKAR CUSTOMS (2021) LPELR-56150(CA). Exhibits RA1 and RA2, being in the public record of the 1st Respondent are public documents and are therefore admissible in evidence, having been certified by the 1st Respondent under Section 104 of the Evidence Act, 2011.

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

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DEMEANOR PLAYS LITTLE ROLE WHERE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE HAS BEEN ADMITTED

The Supreme Court in Ohijinle vs. Adeagbo (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 75) 238 held that where documentary evidence have been admitted in evidence, demeanour plays an insignificant if any role. The documents tendered in the case should be used as a hanger with which to assess oral testimony.

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ORAL EVIDENCE NOT ADMISSIBLE WHERE DOCUMENT EXIST

Where there is documentary evidence on an aspect of a party’s case, no oral evidence is admissible on that aspect. This is because our adjectival law does not admit oral evidence on an aspect or area covered by a document. A party cannot benefit from two ways: documentary evidence and oral evidence. He can only lead evidence in respect of one and not the two of them. But this principle of law is subject to an important qualification and it is this. If the parties by their ad idem agree by oral agreement to change part of the written agreement, the court will not reject the oral agreement.

– Niki Tobi, JSC. Brossette v. Ilemobola (2007)

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INHERENTLY INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE CAN BE EXPUNGED AT ANYTIME

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

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WRONGFUL ADMITTAL OF EVIDENCE MUST LEAD TO MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

The law is equally well settled that where inadmissible evidence is admitted, it behooves the trial Court to expunge such evidence from the record and consider if there is any viable evidence upon which the charge could be sustained. In essence, the wrongful admission of an evidence ought not to totally affect the decision of the Court unless the use of such evidence has resulted in occasioning a miscarriage of justice.

– Saulawa, JSC. Makanjuola v. State (2021)

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APPEAL ON WRONGFUL ADMISSION OF EVIDENCE

If the error of law is the wrongful admission of evidence, the appellant must show that, without the admission of the evidence, the decision would have been otherwise.

– Adio, JSC. UBN v. Ozigi (1994)

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RELEVANCY, ADMISSIBILITY, AND WEIGHT ARE IN SEPARATE DEPARTMENT IN THE LAW OF EVIDENCE

In the Law of Evidence, Relevancy, Admissibility of evidence, and weight to be attached to evidence, all these are each in a separate department. What value or weight to be attached to a piece of evidence, once it is admitted as evidence, is for the Jury, the judges of facts. And here in Nigeria, the trial judges sit in a dual capacity, qua Judges of law in matters of law and qua jury in matters of fact In my view, with due respect to the counsel, his criticism of the Tribunal is unwarrantable and so unjustified. It was for the Tribunal to accept or not to accept the evidence by the p.w.5. It was for it as well to ascribe weight or no weight to the exhibits. To be in the best position to reach a conclusion on the testimony of the p.w. 5 and the value to attach to the exhibits it adopted, in my view, the proper and right approach to reach its conclusion.

— Nsofor, JCA. Ugo v Indiamaowei (1999) – CA/PH/EP/97/99

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