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QUALITY OF TESTIMONY OF WITNESSES

Dictum

The trial court does not come to a decision by the quantity of the witnesses but on the quality or probative value of the testimony of the witnesses. — O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Mini Lodge v. Ngei (2009) – SC.231/2006

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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

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WHERE PROSECUTION WITNESS CONTRADICTS ONE ANOTHER

Onubogu and Anor v. The State (1974) 9 S.C. 1, 20: the Supreme Court opined that where in a criminal case, one witness called by the prosecution’ contradicts another prosecution witness on a material point, the prosecution ought to lay some foundation, such as showing that a witness was hostile, before they can ask the court to reject the testimony of one witness in preference for the evidence of the discredited witness. It is not competent for the prosecution to discredit one and accredit the other.

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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

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DEMEANOUR OF WITNESSES VIS-A-VIS DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

An appellate court should not ordinarily substitute its own views of fact for those of the trial court. See: Ebba v. Ogodo (1974) 1 SCNLR 372; Balogun v. Agboola (1974) 1 All NLR (pt. 2) 66. Ascription of probative value to the evidence of witnesses is pre-eminently the business of the trial court which saw and heard the witnesses. An appeal court will not lightly interfere with same unless for compelling reasons. But where evidence has nothing to do with the demeanour of witnesses or relates to interpretation to be placed on documents tendered before the court, an appellate court will be in a good position to act accordingly. See: Ebba v. Ogodo (supra); Ogbechie Onochie (1998) 1 NWLR (Pt.470) 370. An appellate court will not interfere with findings of fact except where wrongly applied to the circumstance of the case or vital documents tendered were jettisoned or conclusion arrived at was patently perverse or wrong, See: Nwosu v. Board of Customs & Excise (1988) 5 NWLR (Pt. 93) 225; Nneji v. Chukwu (1996) 10 NWLR (pt. 378) 265. And where there is conflict in the evidence of witnesses, documentary evidence will serve as a hanger on which the truth shall be resolved. Documents tendered as exhibits are very vital as they do not embark on falsehood like some mortal beings. See: Olujinle v. Adeagbo (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt.75) 238.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. BFI v. Bureau PE (2012) – SC.12/2008

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A CASE IS PROVED BY THE QUALITY OF WITNESSES, NOT QUANTITY

As the Supreme Court per Tobi, JSC puts it in Nigerian Army v. Major Jacob Iyela [2008] LPELR-2014 (SC); [2008] 7-12 SC 35; [2008] 18 NWLR (Pt. 1118) 115: A case is not necessarily proved by the quantity of witnesses. A case is proved by the quality of the witnesses in the light of either inculpatory or exculpatory evidence, as the case may be. And so, it does not necessarily follow that because the respondent called four witnesses, they rebutted the evidence of the two witnesses of the appellant.

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RELATIONSHIP BY BLOOD CANNOT DISQUALIFY A WITNESS AS BEING A TAINTED WITNESS

The fact that he (PW 4) is a brother to the deceased with but more, cannot in my view make or turn him into a tainted or biased witness. He was not shown to have been an accomplice in the commission of the offence nor that he had any interest or purpose of his own to serve as such witness. Relationship by blood without any more cannot tantamount to a disqualification from being a prosecution witness, and I am not aware of any of our laws which provide as such. Consequently, the evidence of PW 4 in my view requires no corroboration. Ishola v. The State (1978) 9 & 10 SC81; Onafowokan v. The State (1986) 2 NWLR (Pt. 23) 496; Arehia & Anor v. The State (1982) 4SC7 8; Hausa v. The State (1992) 1 NWLR (Pc 219) 600.

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

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