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COURTS OF LAW DOES NOT FETCH FOR EVIDENCE FOR PARTIES

Dictum

The Court of Appeal cannot collect evidence from the market overt; for example from the Balogun market, Lagos; Dugbe market, Ibadan; main market, Jos; Central market, Kaduna; Central market (former Gwari market), Minna; Wuse market, Abuja. On the contrary, the Court of Appeal, has to wait for evidence, as the court did, in the court building duly constituted as a court qua adjudicatory body. Courts of law being legal and sacred institutions do not go on a frolic or on a journey to collect inculpatory or exculpatory evidence. On the contrary, they deal only with evidence before them which is procedurally built on arid legalism. For the avoidance of doubt, I am not saying by this judgment that all was well with the conduct of the Presidential Election conducted in 2007. What I am saying is that there was no evidence before the Court of Appeal to dislodge section 146(1) of the Electoral Act.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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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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PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE WHETHER NEW EVIDENCE SHOULD BE ALLOWED

In Comfort Asaboro v. M.G.D. Aruwaji and Anor. (1974) 4 SC 87 at 90-91 (Reprint) this court had cause to consider the principles which are to be taken into consideration in an application to call additional evidence on appeal. The court per Coker JSC said:- “The decision also evidently applied the principles which time honoured practice has established and the matters which the courts have always taken into consideration in the judicious exercise of powers to grant leave to adduce new evidence, namely:- The evidence sought to be adduced must be such as could not have been with reasonable diligence obtained for use at the trial; The evidence should be such as if admitted, it would have an important, not necessarily crucial, effect on the whole case; and the evidence must be such as apparently creditable in the sense that it is capable of being believed and it need not be incontrovertible. See for these observations Roe v. R McGregor and Sons Ltd. (1968) 1 WLR 925 where the earlier decision of the Court of Appeal in Ladd v. Marshall (1954) 3 All ER 745 was considered and applied. Strictly speaking, under our own rule, the discretion to grant leave to adduce new evidence is properly exercised for the “furtherance of justice”. The exercise must however be judicious and it is in this respect that the guidelines set out above have been followed and applied. We are not unmindful of the fact that it would be a dangerous precedent to allow a person who did not call evidence in the lower court, or who, for one reason or another, had called insufficient evidence at the trial, with comparative ease, to bring forward for the first time before this court the evidence which could and should have been adduced before the trial Judge. Such an attitude would be disastrous to the principles of seeing an end to litigation. The stand taken by the Privy Council in the case of Edie Maud Leeder v. Nnance Ellis (1953) at 52 (sic) also illustrates this point. However one looks at the problem, it seems to be generally accepted that the guiding principles have always been applied to the special facts or circumstances of each application before the Court of Appeal, and in every case the question whether or not sufficient diligence has been put into the quest for such evidence has been decided as a matter of fact.”

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EVIDENCE BY WITNESS IN PREVIOUS PROCEEDINGS CANNOT BE USED IN LATER PROCEEDING

It is settled law that evidence given in a previous case cannot be accepted as evidence in a subsequent proceedings except in conditions where the provisions of section 34(1) of the Evidence Act applies. Even where a witness who testified in a previous proceeding testifies again in a subsequent proceeding, the previous evidence has no greater value than its use in cross-examination of the witness as to his credit. Romaine v. Romaine (1972) 4 NWLR (Part 238) 650 at 669; Ayinde v. Salawu (1989) 3 NWLR (Part 109) 297 at 315; Alade v. Aborishade (1960) 5 FSC 167; Irenye v. Opune (1985) 2 NWLR (Part 5) 1 at 6-8 Sanyaolu v. Coker (1983) 1 SCNLR 168.

— F.F. Tabai JSC. Tijani Dada v Jacob Bankole (2008) – S.C. 40/2003

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EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE; INTERFERENCE BY APPELLATE COURT

It has long been established that the function of the evaluation of evidence is essentially that of the trial Court, Igago v State (1999) LPELR – 1442 (SC) 27; Onuoha V. The State [1998] 5 NWLR (pt. 548) 118. Where the trial Court has unquestionably, evaluated evidence and, justifiably, appraised the facts, it is not the business of an appellate Court to interfere, and to substitute its own views for the view of the trial Court. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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NOT CHALLENGING REJECTION OF EVIDENCE

Akpasubi v. Umweni (1982) All N.L.R. 306 at 308 where the Supreme Court held that “It is elementary I think that once a trial court rejected the evidence of a witness and the Judge’s decision in regard thereto has not been challenged on appeal that is the end of that evidence for ever”.

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WITNESS EVIDENCE IN PREVIOUS PROCEEDINGS

It is wrong and improper to treat the evidence given by a witness in a previous proceeding as one of truth in a subsequent or later proceeding, in which he has not given evidence. See Obawole & Anor. v. Coker (1994) 5 NWLR 416, Alade v. Aborishade (supra); Enang & Anor. V. Ukanem & Ors. (1962) 1 All.N.LR. 530, and Ariku v. Ajiwogbo (1962) 2 S.C.N.L.R 369.

— G.A. Oguntade, JSC. Tijani Dada v Jacob Bankole (2008) – S.C. 40/2003

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