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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

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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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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

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PROSECUTION MUST NOT CALL ALL WITNESSES, SUFFICIENT WITNESSES ARE ENOUGH

Secondly, it is a well established principle of law that it is not necessary for a person on whom the onus of proof lies, even in criminal cases, to call every available piece of evidence in order to discharge that burden. It is enough if evidence is tendered sufficient to discharge the onus which the law lays upon the prosecution. See: Francis Odili v. The State (1977) 4SC 1 or (1977) 11 NSCC 154 at 158 and Joshua Alonge v.I.G. of Police (1959) SCNLR 516; (1959) 4 FSC 203 or (1959) 1 NSCC 169. In the Francis Odili case, the appellant was convicted and sentenced to death. Following his arrest, the appellant was identified at an identification parade by one of the two Rev. Sisters they violently robbed with arms. At the trial, he pleaded alibi. The learned counsel contended inter alia that the evidence of identification was unreliable and that the prosecution failed to call two other eye witnesses to the incident. On appeal, this court per Alexander C.J.N. stated as follows:- “Counsel’s last submission was that the 2 night guards should have been called as witnesses as they were present throughout………………..The tribunal, in its judgment, pointed out that the defence had an equal opportunity to call the night guards if they considered that the evidence of the night, guards would be favourable to them. The tribunal found no merit in this submission and we unhesitatingly agree. The prosecution is not required to call very available piece of evidence to prove its case. It is enough if sufficient evidence is called to discharge the onus of proof beyond reasonable doubt.”

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

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NO LAW SAYS A RELATION CANNOT GIVE EVIDENCE

No law says a relation could not give evidence of what he knew, simply because he is related to the party in whose favour he is to give the evidence.All that is necessary, in such situation, is for the Court to warn itself of the danger of the likelihood of partisanship – see Idowu v. The State (2011) LPELR-3597 (CA) 69-70, D-B.

— O.O. Arowosegbe, J. Danjuma v Royal Salt Ltd. & Anor. (2020)

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PROSECUTION ONLY OBLIGED TO CALL VITAL WITNESS

No doubt, the prosecution is only obliged to call witnesses whose evidence is vital to the determination of the case for the prosecution and whose evidence would settle vital points of facts one way or the other to remove any element of doubt in respect of the guilt of the Defendant from the case of the prosecution.

– H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. State v. Ibrahim (2021) – SC.200/2016

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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.

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