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COURT OF LAW CAN CONVICT ON THE EVIDENCE OF ONE WITNESS

Dictum

Accordingly, in arriving at a conviction in criminal cases, the court is concerned with whether or not there is sufficient credible evidence of probative value and not the number of witnesses called on an issue. See: Commissioner of Police v. Daniel Kwashie (1953) 14 WACA 319. Where a single witness called by the prosecution is neither an accomplice nor a tainted witness, a court of law is entitled to convict mainly on his credible evidence where his testimony did not by law require corroboration. Once the court is satisfied with the cogency, high quality and credibility of the evidence of a witness and accepts it, conviction based on such evidence should not be interfered with unless such evidence by law requires corroboration. So, in the Daniel Kwashie case, the learned magistrate convicted the appellant on the evidence of one witness. On appeal to the High Court, the learned Judge found that although, corroboration was not required by law, a court was generally reluctant to convict on the evidence of a single witness and proceeded to allow the appeal. On further appeal to the West African Court of Appeal, the appellate judge was reversed and his decision was set aside on the ground that there was sufficient evidence before the learned magistrate on which he based his conviction. It was further held that since the learned magistrate believed the witness and there was no imputation that the sole witness was an accomplice or a tainted witness, it was an error to reverse his decision and the conviction was restored.

— Iguh, JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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COURT CAN PREFER ONE EXPERT WITNESS TO ANOTHER

It is trite law that where there is conflict in the opinions of experts, it is the duty of the court to come to a conclusion in the case by resolving such a conflict and can do so by rejecting the opinion of one or the other such experts. See John Wilberforce Bamiro v. S.C.O.A. (1941) 7 WACA 150; R v. Godo (1975), 61 Cr App R.131; Ozigbo v. Police (1976) 1 NMLR 273, Laws and Practice Relating to Evidence in Nigeria by Aguda at p.115 Article 9-05.

— Edozie, JCA. British American v. Ekeoma & Anor. (1994) – CA/E/60/88

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RELATIONSHIP BY BLOOD CANNOT DISQUALIFY A WITNESS AS BEING A TAINTED WITNESS

The fact that he (PW 4) is a brother to the deceased with but more, cannot in my view make or turn him into a tainted or biased witness. He was not shown to have been an accomplice in the commission of the offence nor that he had any interest or purpose of his own to serve as such witness. Relationship by blood without any more cannot tantamount to a disqualification from being a prosecution witness, and I am not aware of any of our laws which provide as such. Consequently, the evidence of PW 4 in my view requires no corroboration. Ishola v. The State (1978) 9 & 10 SC81; Onafowokan v. The State (1986) 2 NWLR (Pt. 23) 496; Arehia & Anor v. The State (1982) 4SC7 8; Hausa v. The State (1992) 1 NWLR (Pc 219) 600.

— Kutigi, JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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WHO IS A TAINTED WITNESS

A tainted witness falls into one or both of the two categories hereunder listed: (1) A witness who is an accomplice in the crime charged. (2) A witness who, by the evidence he gives, may and could be regarded as having some purpose of his own to serve. Rasheed Olaiya v. The State (2010) Vol. 180 LRCN 1-197 p.34; The State v. Dominic Okoro & Ors (1974) 2 SC 73 at 82; Ishola v. The State (1978) 9-10 SC 73 at 100 .

— N.S. Ngwuta, JSC. Odogwu v State (2013) – SC.122/2009

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RELATIONSHIP OF WITNESS TO VICTIM IS IRRELEVANT

Where the evidence of such a witness is otherwise credible and sufficiently of probative value to the charge, the fact of his relationship to the victim or that he has other personal interest of his own to serve is by itself not sufficient to reject his evidence. In law, causes are not lost on the basis that the witness/s is/are members of the same family, association or community. Even where the Court fails or omits to caution or warn itself on evidence that is true in fact and sufficient to ground a charge, the failure or omission would not weaken the validity of such evidence or be fatal to a conviction.

– M.L. Garba JCA. Odogwu v. Vivian (2009) – CA/PH/345/05

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QUALITY OF TESTIMONY OF WITNESSES

The trial court does not come to a decision by the quantity of the witnesses but on the quality or probative value of the testimony of the witnesses. — O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Mini Lodge v. Ngei (2009) – SC.231/2006

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WITNESS DEPOSITION MUST BE FILED WHETHER WITNESS IS SUBPOENAED OR NOT IN AN ELECTION PETITION

From the foregoing judicial decisions, it is clear that in election petition litigation, whether the witnesses which a party intends to call are ordinary or expert witnesses and whether they are willing or subpoenaed witnesses, their witness depositions must be filed along with petition before such witnesses will be competent to testify before the tribunal or court.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

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