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APPEAL COURT CAN EVALUATE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

Dictum

Very much aware of the findings of facts by the two lower courts in this matter, I must state, all the same, that where the evidence to be evaluated is mainly documentary as here, this court is as in good a vintage position as the trial court. – Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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SILENCE COULD AMOUNT TO ACCEPTANCE

It is a settled principle of law that where an adversary or a witness called by him testifies on a material fact in controversy in a case, the other party should, if he does not accept the witness’s testimony as true, cross-examine him on that fact, or at least show that the he does not accept the evidence as true, where, as in this case, he fails to do either, a court can take his silence as an acceptance that the party does not dispute the facts.

– Nnaemeka-Agu JSC. Amadi v. Nwosu (1992)

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WHEN IS A PIECE OF EVIDENCE CREDIBLE

A piece of evidence is credible when it is worthy of belief, see Agbi v. Ogbeh (2006) 11 NWLR (Pt. 990) 1; Dim v. Enemuo (2009) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1149) 353, Eta v. Dazie (2013) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1359) 248; A. J. Inv. Ltd. v. Afribank (Nig.) Plc. (2013) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1359) 380; Emeka v. Chuba-Ikpeazu (2017) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1589) 345. In the same vein, a piece of evidence is conclusive if it leads to a definite result, .see Nruamah v. Ebuzoeme (2013) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1372) 474.

— O.F. Ogbuinya JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc v. Longterm Global Cap. Ltd. & Ors. (September 20 2021, ca/l/1093/2017)

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WHERE EVIDENCE IS CONTRADICTING, ALL SHOULD BE REJECTED

It is well settled that where prosecution witnesses have given conflicting conversions of material facts in issue that the trial Judge before whom such evidence as led must make specific findings on the point and in so doing must give reasons rejecting one version and accepting the other. Unless this is done it will be very unsafe for the court to rely on any of the incidence before it. The proper course in the circumstance is to reject both versions of the evidence as unreliable and unsafe for the purpose of determining the material issue before the court. See: Onubogu v. The State (1974) 9 S.C. 1; Albert Ikem v. The State (1985) WLR (Pt. 2) 378.

— Opene JCA. JIMOH ABDULLAHI & Ors. v THE STATE (1995) – CA/K/180/C/94

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TAKING EVIDENCE BY HIGH COURT INSTEAD OF MAGISTRATE COURT

It seems to me that if under the provisions of Order 23, rule 54 of the High Court Rules of Anambra State, 1988 a Magistrate or any officer of the court is permitted to take the evidence of a witness by way of commission, it cannot, with respect, be right to suggest that a High Court Judge, a judicial officer with much higher jurisdiction and status than a Magistrate or any other officer of the court is incompetent to take such evidence unless there exists any law which stipulates to the contrary. I know of no such law and my attention has not been drawn to any in this appeal. I am therefore of the view that the High Court was right by taking the evidence of the fourth defendant by way of commission as urged upon the court by learned Counsel for the appellant.

— Iguh JSC. Chime v Chime (2001) – SC 179/1991

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SETTLED PRINCIPLES WHICH GUIDE THE COURT WHETHER TO ADMIT FRESH EVIDENCE

As rightly submitted by learned counsel for both parties, there are settled principles, which guide the Court in determining whether to grant leave to adduce fresh or further evidence. They are, inter alia, as follows: (a) The evidence sought to be adduced must be such as could not have been, with reasonable diligence, obtained for use at the trial, or are matters which have occurred after judgment in the trial Court. (b) In respect of other evidence other than in (a) above, as for instance, in respect of an appeal from a judgment after a hearing on the merits, the Court will admit such fresh evidence only on special grounds. (c) The evidence should be such as if admitted, it would have an important, not necessarily crucial effect on the whole case; and (d) The evidence must be such as apparently credible in the sense that it is capable of being believed and it need not be incontrovertible. See: Asabaro vs Aruwaji (1974) 4 SC (Reprint) 87 @ 90 – 91: Akanbi vs Alao (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt.108) 118@ 137 – 138 H – B: Esangbedo vs The State (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt.113) 57 @ 67 A-C.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Williams v Adold/Stamm (2007) – SC.404/2013

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CLAIMANT MUST RELY ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS OWN CASE AND SUPPORT FROM EVIDENCE OF DEFENDANT

I bear in mind the well-established principle of law that in every civil action in which a declaration is sought from the Court, a claimant who seeks the declaratory relief must succeed on the strength of his own case as made out creditably in the evidence put forward by him in support of his case and not to merely rely on the weakness or even absence of the Defendant’s case. However, where the evidence of the Defendant supports the case of the claimant, he is perfectly entitled to rely on such evidence. See Nsirim v Nsirim (2002) FWLR (pt. 96) 433 @ p. 441.

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Anyi & Ors. v. Akande & Ors. (2017) – CA/L/334/2014

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