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ORAL EVIDENCE CANNOT CONTRADICT DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

Dictum

Having regard to the provisions of section 132(1) of the Evidence Act, oral evidence cannot be admitted to contradict, alter, add to or vary a contract or document unless such evidence falls within any of the matters that may be proved by such oral evidence by virtue of the provisos thereto. The provisos only permit evidence which will not be inconsistent with the terms of the relevant contract or document.

– Uwaifo JSC. Fortune v. Pegasus (2004)

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EVIDENCE IN EARLIER PROCEEDING NOT RELEVANT IN LATER TRIAL

Now it is settled law that the evidence of a witness taken in an earlier proceeding is not relevant in a later trial. except for the purpose of discrediting such a witness in cross-examination and for that purpose only.

– Kawu, JSC. Ogunnaike v. Ojayemi (1987)

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TENDERING OF ORIGINAL DOCUMENT

By the combined effect of Sections 86, 87, 88, 89, 90, 102 and 103 of the Evidence Act, 2011, documents (Public or Private) may be produced in Court by tendering either the original of the document itself or the copy thereof known as secondary evidence: but a party relying on secondary evidence of a public document must produce the certified true copy and no other copy thereof is admissible.

— C.B. Ogunbiyi, JSC. Kassim v. State (2017) – SC.361/2015

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PAIN SUFFERED NEED CANNOT BE ASSESSED BY MEDICAL EVIDENCE

As far as I am aware, there is no known means of medically assessing the intensity or otherwise of the pain a person is going through. When related to injury, medical evidence can only describe the nature of the injury but not the pain that goes with it. The more severe the injury the more likely the severity of the pain. Such pain can merely be imagined by a person who has seen when and how the injury occurred or who sees the nature of the injury later and was told how it happened including the medical doctor who may have treated the victim and noticed the agony he expressed by words or action or through groaning; or to whom the nature of the injury is described and the circumstances in which it occurred. For instance, a person who saw how any person’s limb, e.g. leg, was crushed by a heavy object would literally feel, pathologically, some reflexes which tend to register in him that the victim has undergone severe pain. When told about it he will likely imagine the severity of the pain. But the real nature of the pain can best be experienced or described by the victim.

– Uwaifo JSC. C & C Constr. v. Okhai (2003) – SC.8/1999

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DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE IS THE BEST FORM OF EVIDENCE

Tritely, the best form of evidence for the resolution of election matters are documentary evidence. A complaint that a candidate did not score the majority of lawful votes at the election is an invitation to compare and contrast figures. See the case of ANOZIE VS OBICHERE (2008) 8 NWLR (PT. 981) 140 AT 155 PARAS. H. In election petition cases the decision of the Court, particularly when the issue is as to who had the majority of lawful votes, is based largely on documentary evidence, mainly election result forms. See the case of NGIGE VS OBI (2006) 14 NWLR (PT. 2006) 14 NWLR (PT. 999) 1 AT 233. It is trite that results of election declared by an independent electoral commission are presumed correct, authentic and genuine. See SECTION 168 (1) OF THE EVIDENCE ACT (AS AMENDED) 2022. Thus, in order to rebut the presumption of regularity in favour of the election results declared by INEC, the admissibility, inadmissibility and the probative value of Forms EC8As, EC8Bs, EC8Cs, EC8D, EC8E, etc, will be seriously contested. On the veracity of documentary evidence, it has been held that a Court is right to place a greater value on documentary evidence than oral testimony. As the most reliable if not the best evidence, is documentary evidence. It is certainly more reliable than oral evidence. When tendered and admitted in Courts are like words uttered and speak for themselves, on the strength of which the tribunal has powers to add to the votes found to have been wrongly excluded to the score by the affected candidate. See the following cases: SAM V. EKPELU (2001) 1 NWLR (PT. 642) 582 – 797, FAYEMI VS. ONI (2009) 7 NWLR (PT. 1140) 223, AIKI VS. IDOWU (2006) 9 NWLR (PT. 984) 47 AT 65. Therefore, in the resolution of this issue, it will be on the dissection of the principles governing election result forms and documents and the admissibility of the same.

— A. Osadebay, J. APC v INEC & Ors. (EPT/KN/GOV/01/2023, 20th Day of September, 2023)

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RELEVANCY, ADMISSIBILITY, AND WEIGHT ARE IN SEPARATE DEPARTMENT IN THE LAW OF EVIDENCE

In the Law of Evidence, Relevancy, Admissibility of evidence, and weight to be attached to evidence, all these are each in a separate department. What value or weight to be attached to a piece of evidence, once it is admitted as evidence, is for the Jury, the judges of facts. And here in Nigeria, the trial judges sit in a dual capacity, qua Judges of law in matters of law and qua jury in matters of fact In my view, with due respect to the counsel, his criticism of the Tribunal is unwarrantable and so unjustified. It was for the Tribunal to accept or not to accept the evidence by the p.w.5. It was for it as well to ascribe weight or no weight to the exhibits. To be in the best position to reach a conclusion on the testimony of the p.w. 5 and the value to attach to the exhibits it adopted, in my view, the proper and right approach to reach its conclusion.

— Nsofor, JCA. Ugo v Indiamaowei (1999) – CA/PH/EP/97/99

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PROOF REQUIRED UNDER EVIDENCE ACT NOT APPLICABLE TO ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS

Proof as required under the Evidence Act is not applicable in arbitral proceedings as provided for in Section 256(1)(a) of the Act which says that: “This Act shall apply to all judicial proceedings in or before any Court established in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but it shall not apply to – (a) Proceeding be an arbitrator.” Absence of evidence in proof of facts submitted to an arbitrator, required under the Evidence Act, is not a ground for setting aside an arbitral award.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

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