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ADMISSIBILITY OF UNREGISTERED INSTRUMENT; UNREGISTERED INSTRUMENT TO EVIDENCE PURCHASE RECEIPT

Dictum

I must note right away, that the admissibility or otherwise of an unregistered registerable instrument depends on the purpose for which it is being sought to be admitted. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE IS THE BEST FORM OF EVIDENCE

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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DOCUMENTS ARE ALLOWED TO SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

In my view this is the best starting point because words in a document are allowed to speak for themselves and unless a statement will lead to ambiguity or absurdity words are to be interpreted and understood based on their ordinary grammatical con or meaning.

– A.A.B. Gumel, JCA. Alechenu v. AG Benue (2011) – CA/J/220/2002

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DUMPING OF DOCUMENTS ONLY GOES TO WEIGHT TO BE ATTACHED

The simple and straightforward answer to this argument is that the issue of dumping of documents on court, which expression in any case suggests that the documents so dumped are already in evidence before the court, only goes to the weight to be attached to the documents by the court. On this reasoning, this ground of the objection is rejected and overruled.

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

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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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RETRACTION OF CONFESSIONAL STATEMENT DOES NOT RENDER IT INADMISSIBLE

It is trite that the mere retraction of a confessional statement by the Defendant will not render it inadmissible. It will only affect the weight to be attached to it where the Defendant denies making it at the earliest opportunity.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Junaidu v. State (2021)

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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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