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

Dictum

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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MEANING OF JUDGEMENT AGAINST WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE

A castigation of a decision on the premise that a judgment is against the weight of evidence, invariably couched as an omnibus ground, connotes that the decision of the trial Court cannot be supported by the weight of evidence advanced by the successful party which the Court either wrongly accepted or that the inference it drew or conclusion it reached, based on the accepted evidence, is unjustifiable in law. Also, it implies that there is no evidence, which if accepted, will buttress the finding of the trial Court. Furthermore, it denotes that when the evidence adduced by the complaining appellant is weighed against that given by the respondent, the judgment rendered to the respondent is against the totality of the evidence placed before the trial Court. In ascertaining the weight of evidence, the trial Court is enjoined, by law, to consider whether the evidence is admissible, relevant, credible, conclusive or more probable than that given by the other party, see Mogaji v. Odofin (1978) 3 SC 91; Anyaoke v. Adi (1986) 2 NSCC, Vol. 17, 799 at 806/(1986) 3 NWLR (Pt. 31) 731; Nwokidu v. Okanu (supra) (2010)3 NWLR (Pt. 1181)362; Akinlagun v. Oshoboja (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt. 993) 60; Gov. Lagos State v. Adeyiga (2012) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1293) 291; Oyewole v. Akande (2009) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1163) 11; Agala v. Okusin (2010) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1202) 412.

— O.F. Ogbuinya, JCA. Impact Solutions v. International Breweries (2018) – CA/AK/122/2016

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TESTIFY: ANY OFFICIAL CAN TESTIFY FOR A COMPANY

It is not necessary that it is only that person who carried out the function on behalf of the company that must testify. Not at all, as any official of the company well equipped with the transaction and or related documents would suffice to testify. – Peter-Odili JSC. Chemiron v. Stabilini (2018)

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RETRACTED CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT IS STILL ADMISSIBLE

In ASIMI V. STATE (2016) LPELR – 40436 (SC), this Court per Rhodes Vivour JSC at Pp 14-15, para E-C stated succinctly thus: 22 “Once, an extra-judicial confession has been proved as in this case to have been made voluntarily and it is positive and unequivocal, amounting to an admission of guilt (such as the appellant’s confessional statement, Exhibit P6) a Court can convict on it even if the appellant retracted or resiled from it at trial. Such an afterthought does not make the confession inadmissible. It is desirable but not mandatory that there is general corroboration of the important incidents and not that retracted confession should be corroborated in each material particular.”

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ADMISSIBILITY OF A CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT

Olalekan v. State (2001) LPELR-2561(SC) 4, 50-51, F-A, where Onu, J.S.C. held as follows: “This Court has held times without number that the statement of an accused is not inadmissible merely because it is taken down in a different language from the language of the person making it. See Queen v. Baba Haske (1961) 1 All NLR 330 at 333.” (Emphasis supplied).

At page 37, A-C of the same Report, Karibi-Whyte, J.S.C. also stated as follows: “The general proposition is well settled that where an interpreter has been used in the recording of a statement, the statement is inadmissible unless the person who interpreted it is called as a witness as well as the person who wrote it down.”

Again, at pages 55-57 of the same Report, Uwaifo, J.S.C. made his findings in extension as follows: “I have read the reasons given by my learned brother Ogundare, J.S.C. for dismissing this appeal on 20 September, 2001. I wish however, to express my views briefly on whether Exhibit A was properly admitted at the trial. Sgt Linus Patricks (PW6) was the officer who recorded the statement of the appellant. The appellant spoke in Yoruba language and PW6, acting through an interpreter, Aremu Adeosun (PE3), recorded the statement in English language. That was how Exhibit A, the said statement, came into existence. Now, PW3 testified that he interpreted between PW6 and the Appellant. Thereafter, he read the statement as written in English language by interpreting it to the Appellant who agreed that it was correctly recorded. He said the Appellant thumb-printed Exhibit A and he, the interpreter, signed it, as did PW6, the recorder of the statement… At the trial Court, no objection was taken to the voluntariness of the statement, or any other objection at all… The objection now taken in this Court is that the statement (Exhibit A) is hearsay evidence… With the greatest respect, what I understand the authorities in this country to establish is that where an interpreter has been used in taking down a statement, both the person who wrote down the statement and the person who interpreted it must be called as witnesses. In the case of the person who recorded the statement, he would, of course, state in evidence the procedure he took in the process. That was done in the present case. As for the person who interpreted, he would need to be presented as a witness to testify that he interpreted. It is then open to the defence to cross-examine them… I am therefore satisfied that the prosecution called the necessary witnesses who gave sufficient evidence in the present case to make Exhibit A admissible… The objection that it was hearsay is not well founded and I overrule it.”

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AVERMENTS IN PLEADINGS VERSUS AVERMENTS IN AFFIDAVIT; ADDRESS OF COUNSEL NOT EVIDENCE

Averments of facts in pleadings must however be distinguished from facts deposed to in an affidavit in support of an application before a court. Whereas the former, unless admitted, constitute no evidence, the latter are by law evidence upon which a court of law may in appropriate cases act. The Court of Appeal, if I may say with the utmost respect, appeared to be under the erroneous impression that an averment in pleadings is synonymous with a deposition in an affidavit in support of an application. This is clearly not the case. So too, an address of Counsel in moving an application is not the evidence in support of such an application. The evidence is the deposition contained in the affidavit in support thereof.

— Iguh JSC. Magnusson v. Koiki (1993) – SC.119/1991

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COURT SHOULD NOT ACT ON INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE WHERE ADMITTED

In the case of Olukade v Alade (1976) 2 SC 183, this Court summarised the general rule on the effect of the admission of inadmissible evidence:- “A court is expected in all proceedings before it to admit and act only on evidence which is admissible in law (i.e. under the Evidence Act or any other law or enactment relevant in any particular case or matter) and so if the court should inadvertently admit inadmissible evidence it has the duty not to act upon it.”

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