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PUBLIC DOCUMENTS ARE PROVEABLE BY THEIR ORIGINALS

Dictum

In my view, the net effect of sections 91(1)(a), 93, 94(1), 95, 97(1)(e) and 112 of the evidence is that the contents of public documents such as the report and the white paper in question may be proved by producing the originals themselves for the court to inspect as primary evidence. If the maker of the statement, as in this case had personal knowledge of the matter dealt with by the statement i.e. DW1, or prove by the production of their certified true copies as secondary evidence, the two documents being public documents. By virtue of section 96 of the Evidence Act, it is my view that public documents are provable by their originals. It says:- “Documents must be proved by primary evidence except in the cases herein after mentioned.” Although section 112 allows certified true copies thereof to be used as well. It does not make original inadmissible. These sections of the Evidence Act in summary lay down that in proving the contents of documents; the emphasis is on the production of their originals i.e. their primary evidence. They however go on to provide that if the contents are to be proved by secondary evidence, a restricted type of secondary evidence only may be accepted i.e. certified copies in the case of public documents.

– T.N. Orji-Abadua, JCA. Kabau v. Rilwanu (2013) – CA/K/179/2001

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

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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THE ORIGINAL COPY OF A PUBLIC DOCUMENT CAN BE TENDERED WITHOUT CERTIFICATION

There is no law that prohibits the tendering of an original document, be it public or private document. This is the reason why in law, the original of a public document in the hands of a private person can be tendered in evidence without any certification since certification is in respect of secondary evidence whilst the original document produced is the primary evidence, which in all cases, subject to relevancy and pleadings and other requirements of law, is ordinarily admissible in evidence.

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

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