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COURT CAN ONLY ACT ON ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE

Dictum

There is no doubt, however, that a court is expected in all proceedings before it to admit and act only on evidence which is admissible in law (i.e. under the Evidence Act or any other law or enactment relevant in any particular case) and so if the court should inadvertently admit inadmissible evidence it has a duty generally not to act upon it. When, however, inadmissible evidence is tendered it is the duty of the opposite (or adverse) party or his counsel to object immediately to the admissibility of such evidence; although if the opposite party should fail to raise objection in such circumstances the court in civil cases may (and, in criminal case, must) reject such evidence ex proprio motu. On appeal, however, different considerations arise where a party failed to take objection to inadmissible evidence in the court of trial. It has frequently been stated (as, indeed, learned counsel for the appellant has done) that where a matter has been improperly received in evidence in the court below, even when no objection has been there raised, it is the duty of the court of appeal to reject it and to decide the case on legal evidence.

— Ogundare, JSC. Kossen v Savannah Bank (1995) – SC.209/89

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COMPLAINT ON WRONGFUL ADMISSION IS A GROUND OF LAW

It is settled law that a complaint about wrongful admission of evidence is a ground of law alone, a ground of appeal complaining that there was no evidence or no admissible evidence upon which a decision was based, is a ground of law. And an issue on legal interpretation of documents will be a ground of law.

– Uwa, JCA. GTB v. Innoson (2014) – CA/I/258/2011

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EXTRA JUDICIAL STATEMENT IS INADMISSIBLE EXCEPT TO CONTRADICT

The extra judicial statement of a witness in a criminal trial is inadmissible as evidence for either side. The admissible evidence is the evidence on oath in open Court by the witness which is subject to cross examination by the adverse party. The only time when an extra judicial statement of a witness is admissible is where a party seeks to use it to contradict the evidence of a witness already given on oath.

– Ogunwumiju JCA. Okeke v. State (2016)

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INHERENTLY INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE CAN BE EXPUNGED AT ANYTIME

Incontestably, if a party fails to register an objection to the admissibility of a document in the bowel of a trial Court, he is estopped from opposing its admission on appeal. This hallowed principle of procedural law is elastic. It admits of an exception. Where a document is inherently inadmissible, as in the instant case, the rule becomes lame. The law grants a trial Court the unbridled licence to expunge admitted inadmissible evidence at the judgment stage. An appellate Court enjoys the same right so far as the document is inherently inadmissible. The wisdom behind these is plain. A Court of law is drained of the jurisdiction to act on an inadmissible evidence in reaching a decision, see Alade v. Olukade (1976) 2 SC 183; IBWA v. Imano Ltd. (2001) 3 SCNJ 160; Durosaro v Ayorinde (2005) 8 NWLR (pt. 927) 407; Namsoh v. State (1993) 5 NWLR (Pt. 292) 129; Abubakar v. Joseph (2008) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1104) 307; Abubakar v Chuks (2007) 18 NWLR (pt. 1066) 389; Phillips v. E.D.C. & Ind. Co. Ltd. (2013) 1 NWLR (pt. 1336) 618; Nwaogu v. Atuma (2013) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1364) 117.

— O.F. Ogbuinya, JCA. Impact Solutions v. International Breweries (2018) – CA/AK/122/2016

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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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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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