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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The intent and purpose of Section 34 of the Evidence Act is clear. Simply put, it pertains to the admissibility in the present proceeding, of evidence given by a witness in a previous proceeding. Such previous evidence though hearsay, is admissible in the present proceeding under Section 34, which provide an exception to hearsay rule once the requisite conditions are fulfilled. See IKENYE VS OFUNE (1985) 2 NWLR (PT 5) 1. For the purpose of clarity, I herein below reproduce the provisions of Section 34 (1) of the Evidence Act:- 34(1) “Evidence given by a witness in a judicial proceeding, or before any person authorized by law to take it, is relevant for the purpose of proving, in a subsequent judicial proceeding, or in a later stage of the same judicial proceeding, the truth of the facts which it states, when the witness is dead or cannot be found, or is incapable of giving evidence or is kept out of the way by the adverse Party, or when his presence cannot be obtained without an amount of delay or expense which, in the circumstances of the case, the court considers unreasonable: Provided:- (a) that the proceeding was between the same parties or their representatives in interest; (b) that the adverse party in the first proceeding had the right and opportunity to cross examine; and (c) that the questions in issue were substantially the same in the first as in the second proceeding.” I do not need to say much again. The above provision is very clear and succinct to the effect that it relates to the admissibility of evidence given in a previous judicial proceeding in a subsequent judicial proceeding or in a later stage of the same proceeding.

— S.C. Oseji, JCA. ACB v Ajugwo (2011) – CA/E/66/2006

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In civil proceedings every fact which is pleaded and is relevant to the case of either of the parties ought to be admitted in evidence. The denial of making the document by the respondent ought to affect weight not admissibility. In the instant case, the trial court considered the weight to be attached to the document instead of its relevance which ought to have been considered at that stage of the proceedings when the document was tendered. See Ogunbiade v. Sasegbon (1968) NMLR 233. Thanni v. Saibu (1977) 2 SC 89 @ 116. Monier Construction co. Ltd v. Azubuike (1990) 3 NWLR (Pt. 136) 74. Fadlallah v. Arewa Textiles Ltd (supra).

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

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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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The well laid down procedure for omitting documents in evidence is for the trial judge to hear arguments for and against the admissibility of the document, then render a Ruling. If the ruling is favourable to the document being admitted in evidence the document is admitted in evidence and marked as an exhibit. If on the other hand the Ruling is unfavourable the document is marked rejected. A document marked as an exhibit is good evidence that the judge is expected to rely on when preparing his judgment. A document tendered and marked rejected cannot be tendered again. Once a document is marked rejected it stays rejected for the purposes of the trial in which it was marked rejected and the defect cannot be cured during the said trial. See Agbaje v. Adigun & Ors (1993) 1 NWLR Pt.269 p.271.

— O. Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Wassah & Ors. v. Kara & Ors. (2014) – SC.309/2001

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It must be borne in mind that there are two categories of inadmissible evidence. Evidence that is absolutely inadmissible in law which is not within the competence of the parties to admit by consent or otherwise. It is a document which is by law inadmissible, see for example James v Mid Motors (1978) 11-12 SC 31; Minister v Azikiwe (1969) 1 All NLR 49; Kale v Coker (1982) 12 SC 252. The second class of inadmissible evidence is, for example, a document which is admissible in law but upon fulfilling certain conditions, parties may by consent admit it notwithstanding the conditions not being fulfilled e.g. the admission of unstamped instrument required to be stamped, see Etim v Ekpe (1983) 1 SC NLR 120, (1983) NSCC 86; Igbodim v Obianke (1976) 9-10 SC 179.

— Musdapher, JSC. Shittu & Ors. v Fashawe [2005] – SC 21/2001

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Where there is documentary evidence on an aspect of a party’s case, no oral evidence is admissible on that aspect. This is because our adjectival law does not admit oral evidence on an aspect or area covered by a document. A party cannot benefit from two ways: documentary evidence and oral evidence. He can only lead evidence in respect of one and not the two of them. But this principle of law is subject to an important qualification and it is this. If the parties by their ad idem agree by oral agreement to change part of the written agreement, the court will not reject the oral agreement.

– Niki Tobi, JSC. Brossette v. Ilemobola (2007)

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