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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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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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QUALITY OF TESTIMONY OF WITNESSES

The trial court does not come to a decision by the quantity of the witnesses but on the quality or probative value of the testimony of the witnesses. — O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Mini Lodge v. Ngei (2009) – SC.231/2006

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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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COURT OF LAW CAN CONVICT ON THE EVIDENCE OF ONE WITNESS

Accordingly, in arriving at a conviction in criminal cases, the court is concerned with whether or not there is sufficient credible evidence of probative value and not the number of witnesses called on an issue. See: Commissioner of Police v. Daniel Kwashie (1953) 14 WACA 319. Where a single witness called by the prosecution is neither an accomplice nor a tainted witness, a court of law is entitled to convict mainly on his credible evidence where his testimony did not by law require corroboration. Once the court is satisfied with the cogency, high quality and credibility of the evidence of a witness and accepts it, conviction based on such evidence should not be interfered with unless such evidence by law requires corroboration. So, in the Daniel Kwashie case, the learned magistrate convicted the appellant on the evidence of one witness. On appeal to the High Court, the learned Judge found that although, corroboration was not required by law, a court was generally reluctant to convict on the evidence of a single witness and proceeded to allow the appeal. On further appeal to the West African Court of Appeal, the appellate judge was reversed and his decision was set aside on the ground that there was sufficient evidence before the learned magistrate on which he based his conviction. It was further held that since the learned magistrate believed the witness and there was no imputation that the sole witness was an accomplice or a tainted witness, it was an error to reverse his decision and the conviction was restored.

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

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PROSECUTION HAS DISCRETION TO CALL ITS IMPORTANT WITNESSES

It is trite law that there is no rule which imposes an obligation on the prosecution to call a host of witnesses; all the prosecution need do is to call enough material witnesses to prove its case, and in so doing it has a discretion in the matter. See: Samuel Adaje v. The State (1979) 6-9 SC 18 at 28. Bako Bahor v. Yaburi NA Police (1970) NMLR 107 at 112; E.O. Okonofua & Anor v. The State (1981) 6-7 SC 1 at 18. See also section 179(1) of the Evidence Act. What is more it is the law that if a witness is not called by the prosecution, the defence is at liberty to do so. —

Onu JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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WHETHER OR NOT A WITNESS IS AN ACCOMPLICE IS ONE OF LAW

The question whether or not a witness is an accomplice is one of law not of fact and if, as here, the learned trial Judge erred in regarding P.W.(18) as an accomplice (to the crime of conspiracy) it is certainly open to an appellate court (and in this instance, the Federal Court of Appeal) to reverse the erroneous view of the learned trial Judge.

— Idigbe, JSC. Ishola v State (1978) – SC.8/1977

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