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THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF CROSS-EXAMINATION

Dictum

It is trite in our law that cross-examination is a formidable tool for the demolition of the case of the opponent. The purpose of cross examination is to discredit the witness called by the adversary. In the recent case of PDP & Ors V. Muhammad & Anor (supra), the Supreme Court held that the primary object of Cross-examination is to contradict the evidence of the opponent’s witness in order to weaken his case. It is best resorted to in order to test the veracity of the witness.

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

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FAIR HEARING INCLUDES A PARTY’S RIGHT TO CROSS-EXAMINE

There is no doubt that the well-settled position is that in order to be fair, “hearing” or “opportunity to be heard” must, inter alia, encompass a party’s right to cross-examine or otherwise confront or contradict all the witnesses who testified against him.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Junaidu v. State (2021)

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EVIDENCE PROCURED FROM CROSS-EXAMINATION

In law, pieces of evidence, elicited under the cross-fire of cross-examination, are potent and run pari passu with the ones from evidence-in-chief, see Gaji v. Paye (2003) 8 NWLR (Pt. 823) 583; Akomolafe v. Guardian Press Ltd. (2010) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1181) 338. They belong to the cross-examiner, see Omisore v. Aregbesola (2015) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1482) 205. As a matter of fact, the law views evidence procured from the crucible of cross-examination as more reliable and compelling than the ones oozing out of examination-in-chief, seeAdeosun v. Gov., Ekiti State (2012) 9 NWLR (Pt.1291) 581; Okuleye v. Adesanya (2014) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1422) 321.

— O.F. Ogbuinya JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc v. Longterm Global Cap. Ltd. & Ors. (September 20 2021, ca/l/1093/2017)

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PURPOSE OF EVIDENCE IN CHIEF & CROSS EXAMINATION

The purpose of evidence in chief is to lead evidence in support of a party’s pleadings. The purpose of cross examination is to discredit the witness of one’s opponent and make his testimony unworthy of belief. Cross-examination of a witness may also enhance the case of the party cross-examining by affirming of supporting his position. His Lordship Onnoghen, JSC (as he then was) provided an illuminating explanation on the treatment of evidence elicited under cross-examination in the case of: Akomolafe Vs Guardian Press Ltd. (2010) 3 NWLR (Pt.1181) 338 @ 351 F-H, as follows: “On the Issue as to whether both parties called evidence in support of their pleadings, as held by the lower Court, it is settled law that evidence elicited from a party or his witness(es) under cross examination, which goes to support the case of the party cross-examining, constitute evidence in support of the case or defence of that party. If at the end of the day the party cross-examining decides not to call any witness, he can rely on the evidence elicited from cross examination in establishing his case or defence. In such a case, you cannot say that the party calls no evidence in support of his case or defence. One may however say that the party called no witness in support of his case or defence, not evidence, as the evidence elicited from his opponent under cross examination which are in support of his case or defence constitute his evidence in the case. There is however a catch to this principle. The exception is that evidence so elicited under cross examination must be on facts pleaded by the party concerned for it to be relevant to the determination of the question/issue in controversy between the parties.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. MTN v. Corporate (2019) – SC.674/2014

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IMPORTANCE OF CROSS-EXAMINATION

The appellants, on the footing of their contention ignored the imperativeness of cross-examination in our adversarial system of adjudication. Cross-examination has been described as the noble art which constitutes a lethal weapon in the hands of the adversary to enable him effect the demolition of the case of the opposing party, Oforlete v. State (2000) 3 NSCQR 243 at 268, per Achike, JSC. Cross-examination if rightly employed, is potent tool for perforating falsehood, Ayan v. State (2013) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1376) 34 at 36, per Fabiyi, JSC. These pieces of evidence, elicited under the cross-fire of cross-examination, are potent and run pari Passau with the ones from evidence-in-chief, see Gaji v. Paye (2003) 8 NWLR (Pt. 823) 583; Akomolafe v. Guardian Press Ltd. (2010) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1181) 338. They belong to the respondent, see Omisore v. Aregbesola (2015) 15 NWLR (pt. 1482) 205. As a matter of fact, the law views evidence procured from the heat of cross examination as more reliable and compelling than the ones oozing out of examination-in-chief, see Adeosun v. Gov., Ekiti State (2012) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1291) 581; Okuleye v. Adesanya (2014) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1422) 321.

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

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CROSS-EXAMINATION OF WITNESS AS TO PREVIOUS STATEMENTS MADE BY HIM

It may be observed that the section gives an option to the cross examiner. He may cross-examine the witness on the writing and if he is satisfied with the answer given by the witness or if he does not intend to pursue the matter further, he is not required to show the writing to the witness or to prove the writing. But if the cross-examiner intends to contradict the witness by the writing, then he must show the writing to the witness and call his attention to those parts of the writing which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting the witness. It is only after this condition has been complied with that the writing can be admitted in evidence. The cross-examination of the Respondent which Mr. Ajayi relied on as having complied with the provisions of the section may now he examined.

— M. Bello, JSC. Salawu Ajide V. Kadiri Kelani (SC.76/1984, 29 Nov 1985)

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