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COURT MAY RELY ON EVIDENCE UNCHALLENGED

Dictum

It is trite that where evidence tendered by a party to any proceedings was not challenged or put in issue by the other party who had the opportunity to do so, it is always open to the court seised of the matter to act on such unchallenged evidence before it. See Isaac Omoregbe V Daniel Lawani (1980) 3-4 S.C. 108 at 117; Odulaja V Haddad (1973) 11 S.C. 357; Nigerian Maritime Services Ltd. V Alhaji Bello Afolabi (1978) 2 S.C. 79 at 81; Adel Boshali V Allied Commercial Exporters Ltd. (1961) All NLR 917; (1961) 2 SCNLR 322.

— Iguh, JSC. Yesufu v. Kupper Intl. (1996) – SC.302/1989

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RELEVANCY, ADMISSIBILITY, AND WEIGHT ARE IN SEPARATE DEPARTMENT IN THE LAW OF EVIDENCE

In the Law of Evidence, Relevancy, Admissibility of evidence, and weight to be attached to evidence, all these are each in a separate department. What value or weight to be attached to a piece of evidence, once it is admitted as evidence, is for the Jury, the judges of facts. And here in Nigeria, the trial judges sit in a dual capacity, qua Judges of law in matters of law and qua jury in matters of fact In my view, with due respect to the counsel, his criticism of the Tribunal is unwarrantable and so unjustified. It was for the Tribunal to accept or not to accept the evidence by the p.w.5. It was for it as well to ascribe weight or no weight to the exhibits. To be in the best position to reach a conclusion on the testimony of the p.w. 5 and the value to attach to the exhibits it adopted, in my view, the proper and right approach to reach its conclusion.

— Nsofor, JCA. Ugo v Indiamaowei (1999) – CA/PH/EP/97/99

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CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN AN APPELLATE COURT WILL EMBARK ON A RE-EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE

Suffice to say that an appellate court will not embark on a re-evaluation of the evidence led by the parties in the trial simply because a party made an allegation of improper evaluation of evidence and formulated an issue for determination from the complaint. An appellate court will only do so where a party visibly demonstrates the perversity of the findings made by the trial court by showing that the trial court:
(a) made improper use of the opportunity it had of seeing and hearing the witnesses, or
(b) did not appraise the evidence and ascribe probative value to it, or
(c) drawn wrong conclusions from proved or accepted facts leading to a miscarriage of justice.

– M.L. Shuaibu, J.C.A. Dekan Nig. Ltd. v. Zenith Bank Plc – CA/C/12/2020

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COURT SHOULD NOT ACT ON INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE WHERE ADMITTED

In the case of Olukade v Alade (1976) 2 SC 183, this Court summarised the general rule on the effect of the admission of inadmissible evidence:- “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 or matter) and so if the court should inadvertently admit inadmissible evidence it has the duty not to act upon it.”

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MEANING OF JUDGEMENT AGAINST WEIGHT OF EVIDENCE

A castigation of a decision on the premise that a judgment is against the weight of evidence, invariably couched as an omnibus ground, connotes that the decision of the trial Court cannot be supported by the weight of evidence advanced by the successful party which the Court either wrongly accepted or that the inference it drew or conclusion it reached, based on the accepted evidence, is unjustifiable in law. Also, it implies that there is no evidence, which if accepted, will buttress the finding of the trial Court. Furthermore, it denotes that when the evidence adduced by the complaining appellant is weighed against that given by the respondent, the judgment rendered to the respondent is against the totality of the evidence placed before the trial Court. In ascertaining the weight of evidence, the trial Court is enjoined, by law, to consider whether the evidence is admissible, relevant, credible, conclusive or more probable than that given by the other party, see Mogaji v. Odofin (1978) 3 SC 91; Anyaoke v. Adi (1986) 2 NSCC, Vol. 17, 799 at 806/(1986) 3 NWLR (Pt. 31) 731; Nwokidu v. Okanu (supra) (2010)3 NWLR (Pt. 1181)362; Akinlagun v. Oshoboja (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt. 993) 60; Gov. Lagos State v. Adeyiga (2012) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1293) 291; Oyewole v. Akande (2009) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1163) 11; Agala v. Okusin (2010) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1202) 412.

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

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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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THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT CAN DEPART FROM THE EVIDENCE ACT

“In any event, section 12(2)(b) of the National Industrial Court Act, 2006 and Order 5 Rule 6 (b) of the Rules of this Court 2017 allows this court to depart from the Evidence Act in the interest of justice, fairness, equity and fair-play. See the case of Mr. Victor Adegboyu V. United Bank for Africa (unreported) Appeal No. CA/IL/20/2021, a decision of the Court of Appeal Ilorin Judicial Division delivered on the 14th day of April, 2022, where the Court of Appeal applied section 12(2) of the National Industrial Court Act 2006 and departed from the provisions of the Evidence Act 2011.”

— P.I. Hamman, J. per para. 2.6. FRN v ASUU (2022) – NICN/ABJ/270/2022

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