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CONTENT OF DOCUMENT BINDING ON PARTIES

Dictum

It is an established principle of law, that the contents of a document are binding on the party who being of full capacity appends his signature to it. He cannot thereafter resile from it or choose an alternative course. – Augie JSC. Bank v. TEE (2003)

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FAIR HEARING NOT BREACHED WHEN A DOCUMENT IS EXPUNGED BY TRIAL JUDGE

I have seen in recent times counsel forcing into cases the principles of fair hearing even when they are so distant from the case. The principles of fair hearing will not be invoked in favour of a party where the trial Judge correctly expunges an exhibit earlier admitted. It is only when the document is wrongly or wrongfully expunged from the record that a party can be heard to canvass to an appellate court that he was denied fair hearing. – Niki Tobi, JSC. Brossette v. Ilemobola (2007)

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FACTS SHOULD NOT BE IMPORTED TO A DOCUMENT

In the construction of the contents of a document a court is bound to look at the words used therein and not import facts not stated in the document except where reference is made to another document. – Nwodo, JCA. OLAM v. Intercontinental Bank (2009)

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HOW CONTENTS OF A DOCUMENT MAY BE PROVED

Goodwill & Trust Investment Ltd & Anor. vs. Witt & Bush Ltd (2011) 8 NWLR Part 1250 page 500 at 533, where Onnoghen, J.S.C. at page 533 stated thus: “it is settled law that contents of a document can be proved in a proceeding by tendering the original documents or where the original is unavailable by a certified true copy of the said original as secondary evidence of the contents of the said original.”

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PARTY MUST ENDEAVOUR TO LINK DOCUMENTS TO SPECIFIC PLEADING TO AVOID DUMPING DOCUMENTS

Surprisingly the documents were dumped on the Court without any witness linking them up documents with the specific complaints of non compliance. It is settled law that despite the tendering of exhibits in proof of a Petition/case, the onus of proving the case pleaded and for which the documents were tendered in evidence, lies on the Petitioner. In the instant Petition, a lot of documents were tendered from the Bar. When a party decides to rely on documents to prove his case, there must be a link between the documents and the specific areas of the Petition. The party must relate each document to the specific areas of his case for which the documents were tendered. Failure to link the documents is fatal and catastrophic as it is in this case. The Supreme Court in the recent case of TUMBIDO V. INEC & ORS. (2023) LPELR-60004 (SC) held Per Jauro, JSC (at P.43, Paras C-F) as follows: “The practice of dumping documents on the Court without speaking to them has been deprecated by this Court on numerous occasions. No Court is entitled to conduct inquisitorial investigations into the contents of a document or purport thereof in its chambers. The Appellant ought to have called a witness to speak to the photographs and video recording before the Court. See MAKINDE V. ADEKOLA (2022) 9 NWLR (PT. 1834) 13; MAKU V. AL-MAKURA (2016) 5 NWLR (PT. 1505) 201; A.C.N. V. NYAKO (2015) 18 NWLR (PT. 1491) 352.”

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

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DOCUMENTS ARE ALLOWED TO SPEAK FOR THEMSELVES

In my view this is the best starting point because words in a document are allowed to speak for themselves and unless a statement will lead to ambiguity or absurdity words are to be interpreted and understood based on their ordinary grammatical con or meaning.

– A.A.B. Gumel, JCA. Alechenu v. AG Benue (2011) – CA/J/220/2002

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