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DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE IS THE BEST FORM OF EVIDENCE

Dictum

Tritely, the best form of evidence for the resolution of election matters are documentary evidence. A complaint that a candidate did not score the majority of lawful votes at the election is an invitation to compare and contrast figures. See the case of ANOZIE VS OBICHERE (2008) 8 NWLR (PT. 981) 140 AT 155 PARAS. H. In election petition cases the decision of the Court, particularly when the issue is as to who had the majority of lawful votes, is based largely on documentary evidence, mainly election result forms. See the case of NGIGE VS OBI (2006) 14 NWLR (PT. 2006) 14 NWLR (PT. 999) 1 AT 233. It is trite that results of election declared by an independent electoral commission are presumed correct, authentic and genuine. See SECTION 168 (1) OF THE EVIDENCE ACT (AS AMENDED) 2022. Thus, in order to rebut the presumption of regularity in favour of the election results declared by INEC, the admissibility, inadmissibility and the probative value of Forms EC8As, EC8Bs, EC8Cs, EC8D, EC8E, etc, will be seriously contested. On the veracity of documentary evidence, it has been held that a Court is right to place a greater value on documentary evidence than oral testimony. As the most reliable if not the best evidence, is documentary evidence. It is certainly more reliable than oral evidence. When tendered and admitted in Courts are like words uttered and speak for themselves, on the strength of which the tribunal has powers to add to the votes found to have been wrongly excluded to the score by the affected candidate. See the following cases: SAM V. EKPELU (2001) 1 NWLR (PT. 642) 582 – 797, FAYEMI VS. ONI (2009) 7 NWLR (PT. 1140) 223, AIKI VS. IDOWU (2006) 9 NWLR (PT. 984) 47 AT 65. Therefore, in the resolution of this issue, it will be on the dissection of the principles governing election result forms and documents and the admissibility of the same.

— A. Osadebay, J. APC v INEC & Ors. (EPT/KN/GOV/01/2023, 20th Day of September, 2023)

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WHEN IS A DOCUMENT DEEMED TO BE PROPERLY FILED BEFORE THE COURT

I am aware and this is also settled that a document or process of court, is deemed duly filed, when a paper or the document or process is brought to the Registry, and is assessed and paid for, that such a document, etc, can be said to be filed in law, except where there is...

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DOCUMENT SPEAKS FOR ITSELF

It is trite that a document speaks for itself. – Onnoghen JCA. Union Bank v. Akinrinmade (1999) Was this dictum helpful? Yes 0 No 0...

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CONTENT OF DOCUMENT BINDING ON PARTIES

It is an established principle of law, that the contents of a document are binding on the party who being of full capacity appends his signature to it. He cannot thereafter resile from it or choose an alternative course. – Augie JSC. Bank v. TEE (2003) Was this dictum helpful? Yes 0 No 0...

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DOCUMENT BEING ALLEGED MUST BE PROVED

While oral agreement has the legal capacity to re-order or change the contents of an earlier written agreement, to satisfy the basic requirements of an agreement, the party alleging such agreement must prove it. See sections 135, 136 and 139 of the Evidence Act. – Tobi JSC. Odutola v. Papersack (2007) Was this dictum helpful?...

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READING TWO DOCUMENTS TOGETHER

In Burgess v. Cox (1951) Ch. 383 Harman, J., (as he then was), found that he could read two documents together to remedy the deficiency of the defendant’s signature lacking in the first document relied on as being a memorandum when it was obvious that if the two documents were placed side by side, they referred to the same transaction.

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