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WHEN IS A DOCUMENT DEEMED TO BE PROPERLY FILED BEFORE THE COURT

Dictum

I am aware and this is also settled that a document or process of court, is deemed duly filed, when a paper or the document or process is brought to the Registry, and is assessed and paid for, that such a document, etc, can be said to be filed in law, except where there is a dispensation under the Rules of court that the document etc, can be filed without payment. Of course, this will be a question of fact if fees are paid in respect of a document brought to the court. See the case of Dike v. Okorie (1990) 5 NWLR (Pt.161) 418 @ 428-429 C.A. citing the case of Government or Imo State v. Orisakwe FCA/109/82 of 2/7/85. It was also held that a document is deemed to have been properly filed in court, when same is deposited in a court’s office with the proper court officer assigned with the responsibility. See the case of Mohammed v. Musawa (1985) 3 NWLR (Pt. 11) 89.

— F. Ogbuagu, JSC. Akpaji v. Udemba (2009) – SC.247/2002

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PURPOSE OF A SIGNATURE ON A DOCUMENT

It is pertinent to note that a signature on a document identifies the document as an act of a particular person and without a signature, the document cannot pass as the act of such unnamed person, and it is therefore totally useless. See N.N.P.C. V. ROVEN SHIPING LTD (2019) 9 NWLR (prt.1676) 67 at 83 and TSALIBAWA V. HABIBA (1991)2 NWLR (prt 174) 461.

— M.L. Shuaibu, JCA. FBN v Benlion (2021) – CA/C/31/2016

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EXTRINSIC EVIDENCE NOT TO CONTRADICT WRITTEN INSTRUMENT

Generally, where parties to an agreement have set out the terms thereof in a written document, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to add to, vary from, or contradict the terms of the written instrument.

– Augie JSC. Bank v. TEE (2003)

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EXCEPTION TO DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE BEING TENDERED BY THE MAKER

The general rule as to who can tender documentary evidence is that documentary evidence should be tendered through its maker. This is because the maker of such documents can validly answer the questions put forward with regards to the documents so his attendance may be necessary to facilitate cross-examination. See Section 91 of the Evidence Act 2011. See also the cases of Statoil Nig. Ltd v. Inducon Nig. Ltd [2014] 9 NWLR (Pt 1411) (P. 94, Paras, A-B). It is not however, at all times that documentary evidence must be tendered by the maker, as the person to whom it is made can also produce it in Court. If it can be shown to the Court by the person seeking to tender same that the maker of the document is dead or unfit by reason of his body or mental condition; that the presence of the maker of the document may also be excused if he is overseas or if it is not reasonably practicable to call him to tender the document in view of attendant expense.

— O. Oyewumi, J. Aseidu v Japaul (2019) – NICN/AK/01/2016

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WEIGHT CANNOT BE PLACED ON A DOCUMENT TENDERED BY A PERSON WHO IS NOT IN A POSITION TO ANSWER QUESTIONS ON THE DOCUMENT

Weight can hardly be attached to a document tendered in evidence by a witness who cannot be in a position to answer questions on the document. One such person the law identifies is the one who did not make the document. Such a person is adjudged in the eyes of the law as ignorant of the contents of the document. Although section 91(2) allows him to tender the document, the subsection does not deal with the issue of weight, which is dealt with in section 92. Weight in section 92 means weight of evidence, which is the balance or preponderance of evidence; the inclination of the greater amount of credible evidence offered in a trial to support one side of the issue rather than the other. (See Black’s Law Dictionary (6ed) page 1594). In view of the fact that cross-examination plays a vital role in the determination of the weight to be attached to a document under section 92, and a person who did not make the document is not in a position to answer questions on it. I see the point made by the Court of Appeal.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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DUMPING OF DOCUMENTS ONLY GOES TO WEIGHT TO BE ATTACHED

The simple and straightforward answer to this argument is that the issue of dumping of documents on court, which expression in any case suggests that the documents so dumped are already in evidence before the court, only goes to the weight to be attached to the documents by the court. On this reasoning, this ground of the objection is rejected and overruled.

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

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