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EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE ENTAILS

Dictum

In the case of Lafia Local Government –V- Executive Governor Nasarawa State & Ors (2012) LPELR – 2060, OLABODE RHODES VIVOUR, JSC at page 23 paras, E-F said: “Evaluation of evidence entails the trial judge examining all evidence before him before making his findings. This is done by putting all the evidence on an imaginary scale to see which side appears outweighs the other.”

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NOT FUNCTION OF THE COURT TO SUPPLY OMISSION

The main thrust of the appeal appears to be that if the original of the public document is lost or destroyed thereby rendering the making of a certified copy impracticable, it would be unjust not to admit other form of secondary evidence such as a photocopy of the original document. I share the plight of the appellant but it must be borne in mind that the duty of the court is to expound the law and not to expand it. It is not the function of the court to supply omissions in statutes and thereby embark on judicial legislation.

– Edozie, JSC. Araka v. Egbue (2003) – SC.167/1999

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PRINCIPLES WHICH APPELLATE COURTS SHOULD CONSIDER IN THE EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE

And that takes me to the principles which an Appellate Court should consider in the evaluation of evidence by the trial Judge: 1. Evaluation of trial evidence is the primary responsibility of the trial court and so an Appellate Court cannot interfere just for the asking by an appellant. 2. An Appellate Court will however evaluate the evidence before the court if the trial court fails to do so; and this is from the Record. 3. An Appellate Court will also evaluate the evidence before the court if the trial court failed to evaluate the evidence properly in the sense that the evaluation is perverse. And so, the evaluation of evidence, though the primary responsibility of the trial court, is not the exclusive preserve of that court. It becomes so only where the evaluation is borne out from the evidence before the court.

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

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AVERMENTS IN PLEADINGS VERSUS AVERMENTS IN AFFIDAVIT; ADDRESS OF COUNSEL NOT EVIDENCE

Averments of facts in pleadings must however be distinguished from facts deposed to in an affidavit in support of an application before a court. Whereas the former, unless admitted, constitute no evidence, the latter are by law evidence upon which a court of law may in appropriate cases act. The Court of Appeal, if I may say with the utmost respect, appeared to be under the erroneous impression that an averment in pleadings is synonymous with a deposition in an affidavit in support of an application. This is clearly not the case. So too, an address of Counsel in moving an application is not the evidence in support of such an application. The evidence is the deposition contained in the affidavit in support thereof.

— Iguh JSC. Magnusson v. Koiki (1993) – SC.119/1991

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PLAINTIFF MUST RELY ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS CASE

In Ngene v. Igbo (2000) 4 NWLR (Pt. 651) 131 at 142, this Court, per Ogundare, JSC said: “A long line of cases beginning with Kodilinye v. Mbanefo Odu (1935) 2 W.A.C.A. 336 has laid it down that in a claim for declaration of title the onus is on the plaintiff to prove his case. He must rely on the strength of his own case and not on the weakness of the defence – Jules v. Ajani (1980) 5/7 SC 96 except of course where the weakness of the defendant’s case tends to strengthen plaintiff’s case – Nwagbogu v. Ibeziako (1972) Vol. 2 (Pt.1) ECSLR 335, 338 SC or where the defendant’s case supports his case – Akinola v. Oluwo (1962) 1 SCNLR 352 (1962) 1 All NLR 224 (1962) (Pt. 1) All NLR 225 all of which is not the case here.”

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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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ADMISSION OF FRESH EVIDENCE ON APPEAL MUST BE BY CAUTION

The power to admit new, fresh or additional evidence must always be exercised sparingly and with caution. The Court must consider whether there are special circumstances to warrant the grant of the application and whether it would be in furtherance of the justice of the case. See: Uzodinma vs Izunaso (No.2) (2011) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1275) 30 @ 55 B-C.

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

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