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THE COURTS LEAN AGAINST CALLING FRESH EVIDENCE ON APPEAL

Dictum

Before concluding on the said prayer 7 it is helpful to call to mind the observations of Oputa JSC in Obasi v. Onwuka (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 61 ) 364, 372 in an application to call additional evidence on appeal: “To talk therefore of assessing the rightness or wrongness of the trial court’s verdict today by evidence that will be given tomorrow is to talk in blank prose. This is the reason why appellate courts are very reluctant to admit “fresh evidence”, “new evidence” or “additional evidence” on appeal except in circumstances where the matter arose ex improviso which no human ingenuity could foresee and it is in the interest of justice that evidence of that fact be led:- R v. Dora Harris (1927) 28 Cox 432. But by and large, at least in criminal cases (and the principle should also be the same in civil cases), the courts lean against hearing fresh evidence on appeal.”

— Oguntade, JSC. UBA v BTL (SC. 301/2003, 15 April 2005)

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ANY OFFICIAL CAN GIVE TESTIMONY FOR A COMPANY

Comet Shipp. Agencies Ltd v. Babbit Ltd (2001) FWLR (Pt. 40) 1630, (2001) 7 NWLR (Pt. 712) 442, 452 paragraph B, per Galadima JCA (as he then was ) held that: “Companies have no flesh and blood. Their existence is a mere legal abstraction. They must therefore, of necessity, act through their directors, managers and officials. Any official of a company well placed to have personal knowledge of any particular transaction in which a company is engaged can give evidence of such transaction.”

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EVIDENCE BY WITNESS IN PREVIOUS PROCEEDINGS CANNOT BE USED IN LATER PROCEEDING

It is settled law that evidence given in a previous case cannot be accepted as evidence in a subsequent proceedings except in conditions where the provisions of section 34(1) of the Evidence Act applies. Even where a witness who testified in a previous proceeding testifies again in a subsequent proceeding, the previous evidence has no greater value than its use in cross-examination of the witness as to his credit. Romaine v. Romaine (1972) 4 NWLR (Part 238) 650 at 669; Ayinde v. Salawu (1989) 3 NWLR (Part 109) 297 at 315; Alade v. Aborishade (1960) 5 FSC 167; Irenye v. Opune (1985) 2 NWLR (Part 5) 1 at 6-8 Sanyaolu v. Coker (1983) 1 SCNLR 168.

— F.F. Tabai JSC. Tijani Dada v Jacob Bankole (2008) – S.C. 40/2003

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THE PEPT CONSIDERED EVIDENCE DESPITE DISCARDING THEM

We, however, wish to state that, despite our conclusions above on the objections raised by Respondents to documents tendered by the petitioners, I am still minded to the evaluate evidence adduced and consider the merits of the petition. The only evidence I shall not revisit are Exhibits PBD, PBD1A, PBD1B, PBD1C, PBD1D, PBD1A, PBD2A, PBD3, PBD4, PBE1, PBE2, PBE3, PBE4, PBE5, PBE6, PBF1, PBF2, PBF3 and PBF4 relating to 2nd Respondent’s alleged non-qualification that were tendered by P.W.27, Mr. Mike Enahoro-Ebah, the said documents in our view being bereft of pleadings to sustain them as elaborately stated earlier in this judgment.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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EXTRINSIC EVIDENCE CANNOT VARY WRITTEN TERMS

The general rule is that where the parties have embodied the terms of their agreement or contract in a written document as it was done in this case, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to add to, vary, subtract from or contradict the terms of the written instrument: See Mrs. O, D. Layode v Panalpina World Transport NY Ltd (1996) 6 NWLR (pt 456) 544, Glaloye v Balogun (1990) 5 NWLR (pt 148), Union Bank of Nigeria Ltd v Ozigi (1994) 3 NWLR (pt 333) 385.

— J.I. Okoro JSC. B.O. Lewis v. United Bank for Africa Plc. (SC.143/2006, 14 January 2016)

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COMPETENCY IS A MATTER OF UNDERSTANDING

And, apart from this, there is a long line of authorities establishing that competency is not a matter of age but of understanding and that if a child understands the nature of an oath, the provisions in question are completely out of place. See Reg. v. Perkins (1840) 9 C. & P. 395 (or 173 E.R.884); also R. v. Michael Moscovitch (1924) 18 CAR 37. – Coker JSC. Okoye v. State (1972)

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CONSIDERATIONS AGAINST ADDUCING FRESH EVIDENCE AT APPELLATE COURT

Three prominent considerations tending to work against adducing fresh evidence at the appellate Court, when this Court exercises its power under Order 2, Rule 12 of the Rules of this Court in that regard, are –
i. Where issues are joined on pleadings at the trial Court no party shall be taken by surprise. Thus, the Appeal Court cannot consider the reception of new evidence without amendment of the pleadings. See ONIBUDO v. AKIBU (1982) 7 SC. 60; ADELEKE v. ASHERIFA (1990) 3 NWLR (Pt.136) 94 at 111; (1990) 21 NSCC 145 at 154.
ii. It is in the interest of public policy, particularly for the purpose of efficient and effective administration of justice, to obviate prolongation of litigation that the practice of adducing evidence, which ought to have been adduced at the trial Court, should not be postponed to after judgment: See ADELEKE v. ASHERIFA (supra).
iii. Appellate Courts generally exercise their jurisdiction to correct errors of law or fact made by the Courts below, after the latter’s consideration of the totality of evidential materials before them. Accordingly, the correctness of the decision of a trial Court or Judge should not be assessed or judged on the new evidence that the trial Court or judge never had an opportunity to consider: See ADELEKE v. ASHERIFA (supra). In other words the correctness or otherwise of the judgment of the trial Judge or Court should not be assessed on evidential materials he or it never had opportunity to consider.

– Ejembi, JSC. GTB v. Innoson (2017) – SC.694/2014(R)

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