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WITNESS SUBPOENAED BY THE COURT AND WITNESS SUBPOENAED BY A PARTY

Dictum

The Petitioners have tried to argue that the said witnesses are witnesses of this Court. With respect, this argument is misconceived, because the subpoenas in respect of those witnesses were issued upon the request of the Petitioners. The applications for the issuance of the subpoenas were duly filed at the Registry of this Court by the Petitioners’ Counsel and the requisite fees, including filing fees and service fees as assessed were duly paid by them, before this Court approved and issued the subpoenas. Therefore, those witnesses are the Petitioners’ witnesses and not witnesses of this Court. Indeed, the procedure for calling of witnesses by the Court is by summons as stipulated in Paragraph 42(1) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022. By the provisions of that Paragraph, “the tribunal or court may summon a person as a witness who appears to the tribunal or court to have been concerned in the election.” It is clear from the to provision of that paragraph that it is a person summoned by the Court suo motu in exercise of its powers under Paragraph 42(1) that is a witness of the Court and not person subpoenaed at the request of a party to the case.

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

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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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COURT OF LAW CAN CONVICT ON THE EVIDENCE OF ONE WITNESS

Accordingly, in arriving at a conviction in criminal cases, the court is concerned with whether or not there is sufficient credible evidence of probative value and not the number of witnesses called on an issue. See: Commissioner of Police v. Daniel Kwashie (1953) 14 WACA 319. Where a single witness called by the prosecution is neither an accomplice nor a tainted witness, a court of law is entitled to convict mainly on his credible evidence where his testimony did not by law require corroboration. Once the court is satisfied with the cogency, high quality and credibility of the evidence of a witness and accepts it, conviction based on such evidence should not be interfered with unless such evidence by law requires corroboration. So, in the Daniel Kwashie case, the learned magistrate convicted the appellant on the evidence of one witness. On appeal to the High Court, the learned Judge found that although, corroboration was not required by law, a court was generally reluctant to convict on the evidence of a single witness and proceeded to allow the appeal. On further appeal to the West African Court of Appeal, the appellate judge was reversed and his decision was set aside on the ground that there was sufficient evidence before the learned magistrate on which he based his conviction. It was further held that since the learned magistrate believed the witness and there was no imputation that the sole witness was an accomplice or a tainted witness, it was an error to reverse his decision and the conviction was restored.

— Iguh, JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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PROSECUTION MUST NOT CALL ALL WITNESSES, SUFFICIENT WITNESSES ARE ENOUGH

Secondly, it is a well established principle of law that it is not necessary for a person on whom the onus of proof lies, even in criminal cases, to call every available piece of evidence in order to discharge that burden. It is enough if evidence is tendered sufficient to discharge the onus which the law lays upon the prosecution. See: Francis Odili v. The State (1977) 4SC 1 or (1977) 11 NSCC 154 at 158 and Joshua Alonge v.I.G. of Police (1959) SCNLR 516; (1959) 4 FSC 203 or (1959) 1 NSCC 169. In the Francis Odili case, the appellant was convicted and sentenced to death. Following his arrest, the appellant was identified at an identification parade by one of the two Rev. Sisters they violently robbed with arms. At the trial, he pleaded alibi. The learned counsel contended inter alia that the evidence of identification was unreliable and that the prosecution failed to call two other eye witnesses to the incident. On appeal, this court per Alexander C.J.N. stated as follows:- “Counsel’s last submission was that the 2 night guards should have been called as witnesses as they were present throughout………………..The tribunal, in its judgment, pointed out that the defence had an equal opportunity to call the night guards if they considered that the evidence of the night, guards would be favourable to them. The tribunal found no merit in this submission and we unhesitatingly agree. The prosecution is not required to call very available piece of evidence to prove its case. It is enough if sufficient evidence is called to discharge the onus of proof beyond reasonable doubt.”

— Iguh, JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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WHO IS A TAINTED WITNESS

A tainted witness falls into one or both of the two categories hereunder listed: (1) A witness who is an accomplice in the crime charged. (2) A witness who, by the evidence he gives, may and could be regarded as having some purpose of his own to serve. Rasheed Olaiya v. The State (2010) Vol. 180 LRCN 1-197 p.34; The State v. Dominic Okoro & Ors (1974) 2 SC 73 at 82; Ishola v. The State (1978) 9-10 SC 73 at 100 .

— N.S. Ngwuta, JSC. Odogwu v State (2013) – SC.122/2009

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WITNESS DEPOSITION MUST BE FILED WHETHER WITNESS IS SUBPOENAED OR NOT IN AN ELECTION PETITION

From the foregoing judicial decisions, it is clear that in election petition litigation, whether the witnesses which a party intends to call are ordinary or expert witnesses and whether they are willing or subpoenaed witnesses, their witness depositions must be filed along with petition before such witnesses will be competent to testify before the tribunal or court.

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

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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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