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EXTRINSIC EVIDENCE CANNOT VARY A WRITTEN CONTRACT

Dictum

The general rule is that where the parties have embodied the terms of their contract in a written document, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to add to, vary, subtract from or contradict the terms of the written instrument.

– Adio, JSC. UBN v. Ozigi (1994)

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SETTLED PRINCIPLES WHICH GUIDE THE COURT WHETHER TO ADMIT FRESH EVIDENCE

As rightly submitted by learned counsel for both parties, there are settled principles, which guide the Court in determining whether to grant leave to adduce fresh or further evidence. They are, inter alia, as follows: (a) The evidence sought to be adduced must be such as could not have been, with reasonable diligence, obtained for use at the trial, or are matters which have occurred after judgment in the trial Court. (b) In respect of other evidence other than in (a) above, as for instance, in respect of an appeal from a judgment after a hearing on the merits, the Court will admit such fresh evidence only on special grounds. (c) The evidence should be such as if admitted, it would have an important, not necessarily crucial effect on the whole case; and (d) The evidence must be such as apparently credible in the sense that it is capable of being believed and it need not be incontrovertible. See: Asabaro vs Aruwaji (1974) 4 SC (Reprint) 87 @ 90 – 91: Akanbi vs Alao (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt.108) 118@ 137 – 138 H – B: Esangbedo vs The State (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt.113) 57 @ 67 A-C.

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

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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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THE COURT HAS A DUTY TO ACT ON UNCHALLENGED AND UNCONTROVERTED EVIDENCE

It is settled that the Court has a duty to act on unchallenged and uncontroverted evidence. See: BRONWEN ENERGY TRADING CO.LTD v OAN OVERSEAS AGENCY (NIG) LTD (2022) LPELR-57307(SC) at page 31, paras. B-C; and OGUNYADE v OSHUNKEYE & ANOR (2007) LPELR-2355(SC) at pages 22 – 23, paras. B F.

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

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NO MATTER HOW BRILLIANT COUNSEL SUBMISSION IS, IT CANNOT TAKE THE PLACE OF EVIDENCE

The argument of the claimants that to adopt UTAS will promote inefficiency and discrimination in the public service of Nigeria has not been shown by any evidence other than the submission of the learned senior counsel to the claimants. No matter how brilliantly crafted an address of counsel is, it neither constitutes, nor can it take the place of evidence. See APC v. Sheriff & ors [2023] LPELR-59953(SC). And a a bare statement from the Bar by a counsel has no force of legal evidence. See Maduabuchi Onwuta v. The State of Lagos [2022] LPELR-57962(SC).

— B.B. Kanyip, J. FG v. ASUU (2023) – NICN/ABJ/270/2022

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COURT TO DECIDE CASE ONLY ON LEGALLY ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE

Thus where a court wrongfully admits inadmissible evidence, it ought as a duty, to disregard the inadmissible evidence in the consideration of the judgment in the matter. Where such evidence has been wrongfully admitted and acted upon and whether or not the opposing party objects or not, an appellate court has the duty to exclude such evidence and decide the case only on the legally admissible evidence, see Timitimi v Amabebe (1953) 14 WACA 374; Ajayi v Fisher (1956) 1 FSC 90, (1956) SC NLR 279.

— Musdapher, JSC. Shittu & Ors. v Fashawe [2005] – SC 21/2001

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RESPONSIBILITY OF TRIAL COURT TO EVALUATE EVIDENCE

It is now settled law, that it is the primary responsibility of the trial court which saw and heard witnesses to evaluate the evidence and pronounce on their credibility or probative value and not the appellate court which neither heard the witnesses nor saw them to observe their demeanors in the witness box. It follows therefore that when a trial court unquestionably evaluates the evidence and appraises the facts of a case, it is not the business of the appellate court to substitute its own views for the views of the trial court. – Musdapher JSC. Gbadamosi v. Dairo (2007)

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