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TYPES OF INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE (BY LAW OR BY FULFILLMENT OF CERTAIN CONDITIONS)

Dictum

In a trial by a Judge alone, as in the case in hand, a distinction must be drawn between those cases where the evidence complained of is in no circumstances admissible in law and where the evidence complained of is admissible under certain conditions. In the former class of cases the evidence cannot be acted upon even if parties admitted it by consent and the court of appeal will entertain complaint on the admissibility of such evidence by the lower court (although the evidence was admitted in the lower court without objection); in the latter class of case, if the evidence was admitted in the lower court without objection or by consent of parties or was used by the opposite party (e.g. for the purpose of cross-examination) then it would be within the competence of the trial court to act on it and the court of appeal will not entertain any complaint on the admissibility of such evidence.

— Ogundare, JSC. Kossen v Savannah Bank (1995) – SC.209/89

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REPORTS BY INTERESTED PERSONS ARE INADMISSIBLE

It is therefore evident from the above that PW4, PW7 and PW8 are persons interested in the outcome of this proceedings. The reports produced by PW4 and PW8 qualify as statements made by persons interested in anticipation or during the pendency of this Petition. As for PW7 she is admittedly an interested party having been a member of and even contested election under the umbrella of the 2nd Petitioner. Her interest is further underscored by the fact that she admitted under cross examination that she was attending court throughout the proceedings prior to her evidence. By virtue of Section 83(3) of the Evidence Act, 2011, the reports tendered by those witnesses which form part of their evidence are inadmissible.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

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THE TEST FOR ADMISSIBILITY IS RELEVANCE – WEIGHT COMES AFTER ADMISSION OF THE DOCUMENT

The test for admissibility therefore is relevance, the source by which the document has been obtained is immaterial. A document is admissible in evidence if it is relevant to the facts in issue and admissible in law. It has to be noted also that admissibility of a document is one thing, and the weight that court will attach to it is another. Relevancy and weight are in quite distinct apartments in the law of evidence. Relevancy which propels admissibility is invoked by the trial court immediately a document is tendered to determine the relevancy or otherwise of the document tendered. If the document is relevant the court admits it. Weight on the other hand, comes after admission of a document at the stage of writing the judgment. The two therefore ought not to be confused. See Dunniya v. Jomoh (1994) 3 NWLR (Pt. 334) 609 @ 617. Sadan v. State (1968) 1 All NLR 124. Dalek (Nig) Ltd v. OMPADEC (2007) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1033) 402. Abubakar v. Chuks (2001 18 NWLR (Pt. 1066) 386. Torti v. Uknabi (1984) 1 SC 370. Avong v. KRPC Ltd (2002) 14 NWLR (Pt. 788) 508. ACB Ltd v. Gwaswada (1994) 5 NWLR (Pt. 342) 25.

— A. Jauro, JCA. Chevron v. Aderibigbe (2011) – CA/L/76/04

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PUBLIC DOCUMENT CERTIFIED IS ADMISSIBLE THROUGH A PARTY WHO IS NOT TO THE CASE

By virtue of the provisions of Section 102(b) of the Evidence Act, 2011, public documents include public records kept in Nigeria of private documents. See: ONWUZURUIKE v EDOZIEM & ORS (2016) LPELR 26056(SC) at pages 10 – 11, paras. F-B, where the Supreme Court, per Onnoghen, JSC held that a private document sent to the Police formed part of the record of the Police and is consequently a public document within the provisions of Section 109 of the old Evidence Act, now Section 102 of the extant Evidence Act, 2011. It is also trite that a public document duly so certified, is admissible in evidence notwithstanding that it is not tendered by the maker. Indeed, a certified true copy of a public document can be tendered by person who is not a party to the case. See: MARANRO v ADEBISI (2007) LPELR-4663(CA); DAGGASH v BULAMA (2004) 14 NWLR (Pt. 892) 144 at 187; and MUSTAPHA SHETTIMA & ORS v ALHAJI BUKAR CUSTOMS (2021) LPELR-56150(CA). Exhibits RA1 and RA2, being in the public record of the 1st Respondent are public documents and are therefore admissible in evidence, having been certified by the 1st Respondent under Section 104 of the Evidence Act, 2011.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

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A DOCUMENT WHICH IS CONSISTENT WITH THE PLEADINGS IS ADMISSIBLE

A document is admissible in evidence if it is relevant to the facts in issue and admissible in law. The converse position is also the law, and it is that a document which is irrelevant to the facts in issue is not admissible. Documents which are tendered to establish facts pleaded cannot be rejected on the ground of irrelevancy in so far as they confirm the facts pleaded. See Oyetunji v. Akaniji (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 42) 461. In other words, a document which is consistent with the pleadings is admissible, if the document is admissible in law. —

N. Tobi JSC. Musa Abubakar v. E.I. Chuks (SC.184/2003, 14 DEC 2007)

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REQUIREMENT FOR ADMISSIBILITY

It is trite, that the basic principle on admissibility in law, is whether the documents are duly pleaded; whether they are relevant to the facts in issue and whether they are admissible in Law? See the cases of AONDO AKAA V OBOT 7 OR 2021 SC; TORTI V UKPABI 1984 1 SC PG 370 and DIKIBO & ORS V IZIME 2019 LPELR – 48992-CA. There is no gainsaying the fact, that the certified true copies admitted by the court met the criteria on admissibility, as relevancy governs admissibility and the said documents were pleaded. See the cases of NAB LTD VS SHUAIBU (1991) 4 NWLR (PT. 186) 450, OKECHUKWU VS INEC (2014) 17 NWLR (PT. 1436) 256 AT 294-295.

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

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INHERENTLY INADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE CAN BE EXPUNGED AT ANYTIME

Incontestably, if a party fails to register an objection to the admissibility of a document in the bowel of a trial Court, he is estopped from opposing its admission on appeal. This hallowed principle of procedural law is elastic. It admits of an exception. Where a document is inherently inadmissible, as in the instant case, the rule becomes lame. The law grants a trial Court the unbridled licence to expunge admitted inadmissible evidence at the judgment stage. An appellate Court enjoys the same right so far as the document is inherently inadmissible. The wisdom behind these is plain. A Court of law is drained of the jurisdiction to act on an inadmissible evidence in reaching a decision, see Alade v. Olukade (1976) 2 SC 183; IBWA v. Imano Ltd. (2001) 3 SCNJ 160; Durosaro v Ayorinde (2005) 8 NWLR (pt. 927) 407; Namsoh v. State (1993) 5 NWLR (Pt. 292) 129; Abubakar v. Joseph (2008) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1104) 307; Abubakar v Chuks (2007) 18 NWLR (pt. 1066) 389; Phillips v. E.D.C. & Ind. Co. Ltd. (2013) 1 NWLR (pt. 1336) 618; Nwaogu v. Atuma (2013) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1364) 117.

— O.F. Ogbuinya, JCA. Impact Solutions v. International Breweries (2018) – CA/AK/122/2016

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