Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

IT IS WITNESS WHO IS TO EXPLAIN INCONSISTENCY, NOT COUNSEL

Dictum

A line of decisions of this court, including Onubogu v. The State (1974) 9 SC.1 at p.20; Ateji v. The State (1976) 2 SC 79 at pp. 83 – 84; Boy Muka v. The State (1976) 9-10 SC 193 at p.205, has held that in such a situation there is a failure to prove the criminal allegation beyond reasonable doubt. The person to explain the inconsistency is a witness(es) called by the party in whose case there are inconsistencies or contradictions, and not the counsel from the Bar. Afterall, a bare statement from the Bar has no force of legal evidence. The law is settled that the courts do not accept argument of counsel as substitute for evidence.

— Eko, JSC. Anyanwu v. PDP (2020) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1710) 134

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

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

Was this dictum helpful?

A CASE IS PROVED BY THE QUALITY OF EVIDENCE, NOT QUANTUM

A case is proved by either oral evidence or documentary/real evidence or a combination of all of this. It is not the quantum of evidence/witnesses, but the quality of the evidence/witnesses that matters. See Onwuka v. Ediala [1989] 1 NWLR (Pt.96) 182 at 187 and Lafarge Cement WAPCO Nigeria Plc v. Owolabi [2014] LPELR-24385(CA).

— B.B. Kanyip, J. Awogu v TFG Real Estate (2018) – NICN/LA/262/2013 para. 67.

Was this dictum helpful?

NOT CALLING VITAL WITNESSES VS NOT CALLING A PARTICULAR WITNESS

The first point that needs be emphasised is that the presumption under section 149(d) of the Evidence Act will only apply against whom it is sought that it should operate where that party has infact withheld the particular piece of evidence in issue and if he did not call any evidence on the point. It only applies when the party does not call any evidence on the issue in controversy and not because he fails to call a particular witness. See: Bello v. Kassim (1969) NSCC 228 at 233; Okunzua v. Amosu (1992) 6 NWLR (Pt. 248) 416 at 435. The section deals with the failure to call evidence on the issue in controversy and not because he fails to call a particular witness. See: Bello v. Kassim (1969) NSCC 228 at 233; Okunzua v. Amosu (1992) 6 NWLR (Pt. 248) 416 at 435. The section deals with the failure to call evidence and not the failure to call a particular witness as a party is not bound to call a particular witness if he thinks he can prove his case otherwise. See: Francis Odili v. The State (1977) 4 SC 1 at 8; Alonge v. inspector-General of Police (1959) SCNLR 516; (1959) 4 FSC 203 etc. Mere failure to produce the evidence in issue would not necessarily amount to withholding such evidence. See: Ganiyu Tewogbade v. Arasi Akande (1968) (Pt. 2) NMLR 404 at 408. So, in Francis Odili v. The State supra, learned defence counsel’s submission was that only one of the two Rev. Sisters robbed with violence was called to identify and to testify against the appellant and that the second Rev. Sister and the two night guards who were present during the robbery should have been called as witnesses particularly as the appellant’s defence was that of alibi. This court as already pointed out dismissed this contention as misconceived as the prosecution was not required to call a host of witnesses to prove a particular issue.

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

Was this dictum helpful?

PROSECUTION HAS DISCRETION TO CALL ITS IMPORTANT WITNESSES

It is trite law that there is no rule which imposes an obligation on the prosecution to call a host of witnesses; all the prosecution need do is to call enough material witnesses to prove its case, and in so doing it has a discretion in the matter. See: Samuel Adaje v. The State (1979) 6-9 SC 18 at 28. Bako Bahor v. Yaburi NA Police (1970) NMLR 107 at 112; E.O. Okonofua & Anor v. The State (1981) 6-7 SC 1 at 18. See also section 179(1) of the Evidence Act. What is more it is the law that if a witness is not called by the prosecution, the defence is at liberty to do so. —

Onu JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

Was this dictum helpful?

WHERE ACCUSED PERSON IS THE ONLY WITNESS TO AN EVENT

This court has stated in a legion of cases that where the evidence of an accused person is the only witness of an event, any other evidence given by another person not being an eye witness to that particular event will be hearsay or speculative. I commend the decision of this court in Ahmed v. State (1999) 7 NWLR (Pt. 612) 641 at 675 Belgore, JSC while allowing the appeal stated as follows: “In a situation where only the evidence of the accused person as to the actual stabbing is the only eye-witness account, he is either believed or there is no other evidence to believe.” Also in Bassey v. State (2019) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1103) 160 at page 166, para. F, Abba Aji, JSC while allowing the appeal stated as follows: “the testimony of appellant appears to me very striking and believable since there was no eye witness to the crime except the story of the appellant herein. His evidence seems consistent and correlated.”

Enobong v. The State (2022) – SC/CR/249/2020

Was this dictum helpful?

WHO IS A TAINTED WITNESS?

However, and for whatever it is worth, the law is settled that a tainted witness is a person who is either an accomplice or who on the evidence may be regarded as having some purpose of his/her own to serve – see R vs Enahoro (1964) NMLR 65; Ifejirika vs The State (1999) 3 NWLR (pt. 593) 59; Ogunlana vs The State (1995) 5 NWLR (Pt. 395) 266.

— W.S.N. Onnoghen, JSC. Moses v State [2006] – S.C.308/2002

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.