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WITNESS INCONSISTENT ON MATERIAL FACTS

Dictum

Thus, in considering and ascribing probative values to the evidence of witnesses, a Court is under duty to appraise it to see whether they are admissible, cogent, credible and probable. Thus, in the discharge of this onerous but very essential duty, a Court will be wary of crediting any witness who has either been so discredited or his so inconsistent on material facts in contention between the parties. It is for this reason that it is settled law that no witness who has given materially inconsistent evidence on oath is entitled to the honour of credibility and such a witness does not deserve to be treated as a truthful witness. See Ezemba v. Ibeneme (2009) 14 NWLR (Pt. 789) 623.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

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WHO IS A VITAL WITNESS

A vital witness is a witness whose evidence may determine the case one way or the other and failure to call a vital witness is fatal to the prosecution s case. In other words, a witness who knows something significant about a matter is a vital witness. In Onah v. State (1985) 3 NWLR Pt. 12 Pg.236 a vital witness was described as a witness whose evidence may determine the case one way or the other and it is settled that the failure to call such a witness is fatal to the prosecution’s case.

– H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. State v. Ibrahim (2021) – SC.200/2016

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NO OBLIGATION TO CALL A HOST OF WITNESSES BY THE PROSECUTION

Okonofua & Anor v. The State (1981) 6-7 SC 1 at 18 where this court per Bello, J.S.C., as he then was, dealing with the same subject put the matter thus:- “The correct state of the law relating to the duty of the prosecution to call witnesses, whether their names appear on the back of the information or not, has been recently stated by this court in these terms: ‘The law imposes no obligation on the prosecution to call a host of witnesses. All the prosecution need do is to call enough material witnesses in order to prove its case; and in so doing, it has a discretion in the matter.’ ” See also Samuel Adaje v. The State (1979) 6-9 SC 18 at 28.

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EVIDENCE OF A SINGLE WITNESS CAN CONVICT

A man may be convicted on the evidence of a single witness. However such evidence must be credible and cogent. – Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)

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WHEN IS A WITNESS TAINTED

The position is that a tainted witness is either an accomplice or a witness who has an interest to defend or a purpose to serve in a case in which he is called upon to give evidence as a witness. It has to be shown that the witness has some peculiar interest to protect or purpose to serve in the evidence he gives in a case in order to make him a tainted witness.

– M.L. Garba JCA. Odogwu v. Vivian (2009) – CA/PH/345/05

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PROSECUTION HAS DISCRETION TO CALL ITS IMPORTANT WITNESSES

It is trite law that there is no rule which imposes an obligation on the prosecution to call a host of witnesses; all the prosecution need do is to call enough material witnesses to prove its case, and in so doing it has a discretion in the matter. See: Samuel Adaje v. The State (1979) 6-9 SC 18 at 28. Bako Bahor v. Yaburi NA Police (1970) NMLR 107 at 112; E.O. Okonofua & Anor v. The State (1981) 6-7 SC 1 at 18. See also section 179(1) of the Evidence Act. What is more it is the law that if a witness is not called by the prosecution, the defence is at liberty to do so. —

Onu JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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A CASE IS PROVED BY THE QUALITY OF WITNESSES, NOT QUANTITY

As the Supreme Court per Tobi, JSC puts it in Nigerian Army v. Major Jacob Iyela [2008] LPELR-2014 (SC); [2008] 7-12 SC 35; [2008] 18 NWLR (Pt. 1118) 115: A case is not necessarily proved by the quantity of witnesses. A case is proved by the quality of the witnesses in the light of either inculpatory or exculpatory evidence, as the case may be. And so, it does not necessarily follow that because the respondent called four witnesses, they rebutted the evidence of the two witnesses of the appellant.

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