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TAKING EVIDENCE BY HIGH COURT INSTEAD OF MAGISTRATE COURT

Dictum

It seems to me that if under the provisions of Order 23, rule 54 of the High Court Rules of Anambra State, 1988 a Magistrate or any officer of the court is permitted to take the evidence of a witness by way of commission, it cannot, with respect, be right to suggest that a High Court Judge, a judicial officer with much higher jurisdiction and status than a Magistrate or any other officer of the court is incompetent to take such evidence unless there exists any law which stipulates to the contrary. I know of no such law and my attention has not been drawn to any in this appeal. I am therefore of the view that the High Court was right by taking the evidence of the fourth defendant by way of commission as urged upon the court by learned Counsel for the appellant.

— Iguh JSC. Chime v Chime (2001) – SC 179/1991

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QUALITY OF EVIDENCE IS MORE RELEVANT THAN THE QUANTITY

The first point that must be made is that a court of law needs not take into account the number of witnesses for each side to a dispute as a relevant factor in deciding which side to succeed. What is primarily relevant is the quality of the evidence adduced before the court. In this regard, Section 179(1) of the Evidence Act provides as follows:- “179(1) Except as provided in this section, no particular number of witnesses shall in any case be required for the proof of any fact.”

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

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IN LAND CASES THE PLAINTIFF MUST SUCCEED ON ITS OWN CASE

In land cases that the plaintiff when claiming a declaration of title must succeed on the strength of his case. The onus lies on the plaintiff to satisfy the court that he is entitled on the evidence brought by him to the declaration of title claimed. The plaintiff must rely on the strength of his case and not on the weakness of the defendant’s case. If this onus is not discharged, the weakness of the defendant’s case may not generally help him and the proper judgment will be for the defendant. Where, however, the case of the defendant lends support to the case of the plaintiff, it is recognised that the court cannot ignore it in arriving at a conclusion as to which side to believe.

– Iguh, JSC. Clay v. Aina (1997)

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FAILURE TO TENDER STOLEN ITEMS DOES NOT MAKE PROSECUTION’S CASE WEAK

The position of the law is that where there is overwhelming evidence from Witnesses, which is not contradicted, and which is believed, that property or money were stolen during an armed robbery operation, the non-tendering of these items in Court, as Exhibits, will not destroy the Prosecution’s case – see Ajumobi v. State (2018) LPELR-(43854) SC, wherein Akaahs, JSC, observed that – The production of the stolen items, no doubt, will make watertight the case of the Prosecution. The law, however, still remains that where the evidence adduced by the Prosecution is capable of being believed and the trial Judge believed it and convicts the Accused, an appellate Court will be slow to overturn the verdict simply on the basis that the trial Court could have viewed such evidence otherwise. Where it is suggested that a piece of evidence casts some doubt on the Prosecution’s case, it is necessary to show, unless such is manifest or evident from the Records, what aspects becomes doubtful by reason of the evidence.

— A.A. Augie, JSC. Usman v The State (2019) – SC.228/2016

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CLAIMANT MUST RELY ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS OWN CASE AND SUPPORT FROM EVIDENCE OF DEFENDANT

I bear in mind the well-established principle of law that in every civil action in which a declaration is sought from the Court, a claimant who seeks the declaratory relief must succeed on the strength of his own case as made out creditably in the evidence put forward by him in support of his case and not to merely rely on the weakness or even absence of the Defendant’s case. However, where the evidence of the Defendant supports the case of the claimant, he is perfectly entitled to rely on such evidence. See Nsirim v Nsirim (2002) FWLR (pt. 96) 433 @ p. 441.

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Anyi & Ors. v. Akande & Ors. (2017) – CA/L/334/2014

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WRONG EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE BY TRIAL COURT

Where the Court of Appeal wrongly evaluates the evidence before the trial court and arrives at a wrong conclusion not borne out from the evidence before the court, the Supreme Court will intervene on the ground that the finding is perverse. But where the finding of the Court of Appeal is borne out from the evidence adduced in the trial court, this court cannot intervene. I do not see any reason for intervention in this appeal.

– Niki Tobi JSC. Iragunima v. Rivers State (2003)

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THE NATIONAL INDUSTRIAL COURT CAN DEPART FROM THE EVIDENCE ACT

“In any event, section 12(2)(b) of the National Industrial Court Act, 2006 and Order 5 Rule 6 (b) of the Rules of this Court 2017 allows this court to depart from the Evidence Act in the interest of justice, fairness, equity and fair-play. See the case of Mr. Victor Adegboyu V. United Bank for Africa (unreported) Appeal No. CA/IL/20/2021, a decision of the Court of Appeal Ilorin Judicial Division delivered on the 14th day of April, 2022, where the Court of Appeal applied section 12(2) of the National Industrial Court Act 2006 and departed from the provisions of the Evidence Act 2011.”

— P.I. Hamman, J. per para. 2.6. FRN v ASUU (2022) – NICN/ABJ/270/2022

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