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ORAL EVIDENCE CANNOT CONTRADICT DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

Dictum

Can this evidence pass for its content of oral agreement of a yearly tenancy to vitiate the termination of the lease in 1980? Can the bare ipse dixit of a witness of the existence of oral evidence turn around in his favour in the face of clear documentary evidence to the contrary? I have a few more questions to ask but I can stop here.

– Tobi JSC. Odutola v. Papersack (2007)

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ORAL EVIDENCE INADMISSIBLE TO CONTRADICT DOCUMENT

It is trite law that oral evidence is inadmissible to contradict the contents of a document. In other words oral testimony cannot be used to state the content of a document. This is so, because documents when tendered and admitted in court are like words uttered and do speak for themselves. They are more reliable and authentic then words from the vocal cord of man as they are neither transient nor subject to distortion and miss-interpretation but remain permanent and indelible through the ages.

– Muntaka- coomassie, JSC. Ogundele v. Agiri (2009) – SC

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FACTS SHOULD NOT BE IMPORTED TO A DOCUMENT

In the construction of the contents of a document a court is bound to look at the words used therein and not import facts not stated in the document except where reference is made to another document. – Nwodo, JCA. OLAM v. Intercontinental Bank (2009)

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CONTENT OF DOCUMENT BINDING ON PARTIES

It is an established principle of law, that the contents of a document are binding on the party who being of full capacity appends his signature to it. He cannot thereafter resile from it or choose an alternative course. – Augie JSC. Bank v. TEE (2003)

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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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ORAL EVIDENCE MUST BE DIRECT – SECTION 126 EVIDENCE ACT 2011

It is correct, as submitted, that Section 126(a)-(d) of the Evidence Act, 2011 provides inter alia that “oral evidence must, in all cases whatever, be direct”. The rationale for the rule can be said to be: (1) The unreliability of the original maker of the statement who is not in Court and not cross-examined; (2) The depreciation of the truth arising from repetition; (3) Opportunities for fraud; (4) The tendency of such evidence to lead to prolonged inquiries and proceedings; (5) Hearsay evidence tends to encourage the substitution of weaker evidence for stronger evidence.

— J.H. Sankey, JCA. Brila Energy Ltd. v. FRN (2018) – CA/L/658CA/2017

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