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REPORTS BY INTERESTED PERSONS ARE INADMISSIBLE

Dictum

It is therefore evident from the above that PW4, PW7 and PW8 are persons interested in the outcome of this proceedings. The reports produced by PW4 and PW8 qualify as statements made by persons interested in anticipation or during the pendency of this Petition. As for PW7 she is admittedly an interested party having been a member of and even contested election under the umbrella of the 2nd Petitioner. Her interest is further underscored by the fact that she admitted under cross examination that she was attending court throughout the proceedings prior to her evidence. By virtue of Section 83(3) of the Evidence Act, 2011, the reports tendered by those witnesses which form part of their evidence are inadmissible.

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

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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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TWO CATEGORIES OF INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE

It must be borne in mind that there are two categories of inadmissible evidence. Evidence that is absolutely inadmissible in law which is not within the competence of the parties to admit by consent or otherwise. It is a document which is by law inadmissible, see for example James v Mid Motors (1978) 11-12 SC 31; Minister v Azikiwe (1969) 1 All NLR 49; Kale v Coker (1982) 12 SC 252. The second class of inadmissible evidence is, for example, a document which is admissible in law but upon fulfilling certain conditions, parties may by consent admit it notwithstanding the conditions not being fulfilled e.g. the admission of unstamped instrument required to be stamped, see Etim v Ekpe (1983) 1 SC NLR 120, (1983) NSCC 86; Igbodim v Obianke (1976) 9-10 SC 179.

— Musdapher, JSC. Shittu & Ors. v Fashawe [2005] – SC 21/2001

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COMPLAINT ON WRONGFUL ADMISSION IS A GROUND OF LAW

It is settled law that a complaint about wrongful admission of evidence is a ground of law alone, a ground of appeal complaining that there was no evidence or no admissible evidence upon which a decision was based, is a ground of law. And an issue on legal interpretation of documents will be a ground of law.

– Uwa, JCA. GTB v. Innoson (2014) – CA/I/258/2011

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THE TEST FOR ADMISSIBILITY IS RELEVANCE – WEIGHT COMES AFTER ADMISSION OF THE DOCUMENT

The test for admissibility therefore is relevance, the source by which the document has been obtained is immaterial. A document is admissible in evidence if it is relevant to the facts in issue and admissible in law. It has to be noted also that admissibility of a document is one thing, and the weight that court will attach to it is another. Relevancy and weight are in quite distinct apartments in the law of evidence. Relevancy which propels admissibility is invoked by the trial court immediately a document is tendered to determine the relevancy or otherwise of the document tendered. If the document is relevant the court admits it. Weight on the other hand, comes after admission of a document at the stage of writing the judgment. The two therefore ought not to be confused. See Dunniya v. Jomoh (1994) 3 NWLR (Pt. 334) 609 @ 617. Sadan v. State (1968) 1 All NLR 124. Dalek (Nig) Ltd v. OMPADEC (2007) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1033) 402. Abubakar v. Chuks (2001 18 NWLR (Pt. 1066) 386. Torti v. Uknabi (1984) 1 SC 370. Avong v. KRPC Ltd (2002) 14 NWLR (Pt. 788) 508. ACB Ltd v. Gwaswada (1994) 5 NWLR (Pt. 342) 25.

— A. Jauro, JCA. Chevron v. Aderibigbe (2011) – CA/L/76/04

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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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ADMISSIBILITY IS BASED ON RELEVANCE; HOW OBTAINED IS IMMATERIAL

Kuruma, Son of Kaniu v. The Queen (1955) A.C. 197 at p.203, observed. “In their Lordships’ opinion the test to be applied in considering whether evidence is admissible is whether it is relevant to the matter in issue. If it is, it is admissible and the court is not concerned with how the evidence is obtained. While this proposition may not have been stated in so many words in any English case, there are decisions which support it, and in their Lordships’ opinion it is plainly right in principle. There can be no difference in principle for this purpose between a civil and a criminal case. No doubt in a criminal case a judge always has a discretion to disallow evidence if the strict rule of admissibility would operate unfairly against an accused.”

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