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WHO IS A TAINTED WITNESS

Dictum

A tainted witness falls into one or both of the two categories hereunder listed: (1) A witness who is an accomplice in the crime charged. (2) A witness who, by the evidence he gives, may and could be regarded as having some purpose of his own to serve. Rasheed Olaiya v. The State (2010) Vol. 180 LRCN 1-197 p.34; The State v. Dominic Okoro & Ors (1974) 2 SC 73 at 82; Ishola v. The State (1978) 9-10 SC 73 at 100 .

— N.S. Ngwuta, JSC. Odogwu v State (2013) – SC.122/2009

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NEGATIVES OF PHOTOGRAPH REQUIRES PHOTOGRAPHER TO BE CALLED TO TESTIFY

Photographs taken of the deceased’s corpse are secondary evidence. They become admissible only when the negative is also tendered and their inadmissibility has nothing to do with the maker or photographer. However in this age of digital photography where the negatives are stored electronically, it becomes necessary for the photographer to be called to testify. — K.B. Aka’ahs, JSC. Mati Musa v The State (2019) – SC.902/2014

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TO CONTRADICT A WITNESS BY HIS PREVIOUS WRITING; MUST SHOW WITNESS THE WRITING

Bello, JSC, in AJIDE v. KELANI (1985) 3 NWLR (pt.12) 248 at 200 – 261, (1985) 16 NSCC (pt.2) 1298 at 1309, stated the options thus – “He may cross-examine the witness on the writing and if he is satisfied with the answer given by the witness or if he does not intend to pursue the matter further, he is not required to show the writing to the witness or to prove the writing. But if the cross-examiner intends to contradict the witness by the writing, then he must show the writing to witness and call his attention to those part of the writing which are to be used for the purpose of contradicting the witness. It is only after this condition has been complied with that the writing can be admitted in evidence.”

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WHO IS A TAINTED WITNESS?

A tainted witness has been classified as one who is either an accomplice or by the evidence he gives, whether as a witness for the prosecution or defence, may and could be regarded as having some purpose of his own to serve. See: Ishola v. The State (1978) NSCC 499 at 509.

— Iguh, 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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WHO IS A TAINTED WITNESS?

However, and for whatever it is worth, the law is settled that a tainted witness is a person who is either an accomplice or who on the evidence may be regarded as having some purpose of his/her own to serve – see R vs Enahoro (1964) NMLR 65; Ifejirika vs The State (1999) 3 NWLR (pt. 593) 59; Ogunlana vs The State (1995) 5 NWLR (Pt. 395) 266.

— W.S.N. Onnoghen, JSC. Moses v State [2006] – S.C.308/2002

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WITNESS SUBPOENAED BY THE COURT AND WITNESS SUBPOENAED BY A PARTY

The Petitioners have tried to argue that the said witnesses are witnesses of this Court. With respect, this argument is misconceived, because the subpoenas in respect of those witnesses were issued upon the request of the Petitioners. The applications for the issuance of the subpoenas were duly filed at the Registry of this Court by the Petitioners’ Counsel and the requisite fees, including filing fees and service fees as assessed were duly paid by them, before this Court approved and issued the subpoenas. Therefore, those witnesses are the Petitioners’ witnesses and not witnesses of this Court. Indeed, the procedure for calling of witnesses by the Court is by summons as stipulated in Paragraph 42(1) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act, 2022. By the provisions of that Paragraph, “the tribunal or court may summon a person as a witness who appears to the tribunal or court to have been concerned in the election.” It is clear from the to provision of that paragraph that it is a person summoned by the Court suo motu in exercise of its powers under Paragraph 42(1) that is a witness of the Court and not person subpoenaed at the request of a party to the case.

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

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