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A DOCUMENT WHICH IS CONSISTENT WITH THE PLEADINGS IS ADMISSIBLE

Dictum

A document is admissible in evidence if it is relevant to the facts in issue and admissible in law. The converse position is also the law, and it is that a document which is irrelevant to the facts in issue is not admissible. Documents which are tendered to establish facts pleaded cannot be rejected on the ground of irrelevancy in so far as they confirm the facts pleaded. See Oyetunji v. Akaniji (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 42) 461. In other words, a document which is consistent with the pleadings is admissible, if the document is admissible in law. —

N. Tobi JSC. Musa Abubakar v. E.I. Chuks (SC.184/2003, 14 DEC 2007)

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RELEVANCY GOVERNS ADMISSIBILITY

In civil proceedings every fact which is pleaded and is relevant to the case of either of the parties ought to be admitted in evidence. The denial of making the document by the respondent ought to affect weight not admissibility. In the instant case, the trial court considered the weight to be attached to the document instead of its relevance which ought to have been considered at that stage of the proceedings when the document was tendered. See Ogunbiade v. Sasegbon (1968) NMLR 233. Thanni v. Saibu (1977) 2 SC 89 @ 116. Monier Construction co. Ltd v. Azubuike (1990) 3 NWLR (Pt. 136) 74. Fadlallah v. Arewa Textiles Ltd (supra).

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

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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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RELEVANCY GOVERNS ADMISSION OF EVIDENCE

When it is a question of admission of evidence, strictly, it is not whether the method by which it is obtained is tortious but excusable, but whether what has been obtained is relevant to the issue being tried. See Kuruma v. R. (1955) AC 197.

— Ogwuegbu JSC. Oshunrinde v Akande (1996) – SC.110/1990

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ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE GIVEN IN PREVIOUS JUDICIAL PROCEEDING

The intent and purpose of Section 34 of the Evidence Act is clear. Simply put, it pertains to the admissibility in the present proceeding, of evidence given by a witness in a previous proceeding. Such previous evidence though hearsay, is admissible in the present proceeding under Section 34, which provide an exception to hearsay rule once the requisite conditions are fulfilled. See IKENYE VS OFUNE (1985) 2 NWLR (PT 5) 1. For the purpose of clarity, I herein below reproduce the provisions of Section 34 (1) of the Evidence Act:- 34(1) “Evidence given by a witness in a judicial proceeding, or before any person authorized by law to take it, is relevant for the purpose of proving, in a subsequent judicial proceeding, or in a later stage of the same judicial proceeding, the truth of the facts which it states, when the witness is dead or cannot be found, or is incapable of giving evidence or is kept out of the way by the adverse Party, or when his presence cannot be obtained without an amount of delay or expense which, in the circumstances of the case, the court considers unreasonable: Provided:- (a) that the proceeding was between the same parties or their representatives in interest; (b) that the adverse party in the first proceeding had the right and opportunity to cross examine; and (c) that the questions in issue were substantially the same in the first as in the second proceeding.” I do not need to say much again. The above provision is very clear and succinct to the effect that it relates to the admissibility of evidence given in a previous judicial proceeding in a subsequent judicial proceeding or in a later stage of the same proceeding.

— S.C. Oseji, JCA. ACB v Ajugwo (2011) – CA/E/66/2006

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ADMISSIBILITY VERSUS FROM PROBATIVE VALUE

There is a clear dichotomy between admissibility of document and placing probative value on it. While admissibility is based on relevance, probative value depends not only on relevance but on proof. An evidence has probative value if it tends to prove an issue.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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