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Nigerian Cases on Unchallenged Evidence (Rationes)

Nigerian cases about unchallenged evidence

Nigerian Cases on Unchallenged Evidence

A piece of evidence given by a witness on a given point or subject matter or an issue may be said to stand “unchallenged” if there be no other evidence by the adversary on the same issue or subject-matter. Below are some rationes decidendi about Unchallenged Evidence from Nigerian cases.

Meaning of Unchallenged Evidence

FIRST BANK OF NIGERIA PLC v. ASSOCIATED MOTORS COMPANY (NIGERIA) LIMITED (1998) 10 NWLR (Pt. 570) 441 – Court of Appeal

A piece of evidence given by a witness on a given point or subject matter or an issue may be said to stand “unchallenged” if there be no other evidence by the adversary on the same issue or subject-matter. Once there are two conflicting versions of evidence on a given point there is a dispute on that point. One version of the evidence cannot be said to stand “unchallenged”

Do uncontroverted evidence and unchallenged evidence mean the same

OFORLETE v. STATE (2000) LPELR-2270(SC)

“… it does appear to me that a distinction has not always been drawn in the manner in which evidence is challenged or controverted. “unchallenged” and “uncontroverted” have mostly been used as meaning the same thing. See, for instance, Egbunike v. ACB Ltd (1995) 2 NWLR (Pt.375) 34 SC. In a strict sense “unchallenged” and uncontroverted” may not mean the same thing.

To challenge is to object or except to something or to put it in dispute or render doubtful. To controvert is to dispute or deny, oppose or contest. (For both definitions see Black ‘s Law Dictionary 6th Edition). Challenging witness is more appropriate in cross-examination while controverting his evidence is more appropriate in leading contrary evidence.

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Notwithstanding the distinction, in most cases the consequence would be the same whether evidence is unchallenged or whether it is uncontroverted. Where evidence is challenged and rendered doubtful or without weight by cross-examination, the fact that it is not controverted by contrary evidence will not render it cogent or weighty.

On the other hand, the fact that contrary evidence has not been adduced to controvert the evidence of a witness on a particular matter weakens any suggestion that that evidence is not true.”

Effect of an unchallenged/uncontroverted evidence

IGHRERINIOVO v. S.C.C. NIGERIA LTD & ORS (2013) LPELR-20336(SC)

“It is the law that unchallenged evidence which is credible stands and should be accepted and acted upon by the Court. See: Omoregbe v. Lawani (1980) 3-4 SC 108, 117; Fasoro v. Beyioku & Ors. (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt.76) 263, 271;”

AUGUSTINE OBINECHE & ORS V. HUMPHREY AKUSOBI & ORS (2010) LCN/3790(SC)

Secondly, where evidence by a party to any proceedings was not challenged or controverted by the opposite party who had the opportunity to do so, it is always open to the court siezed of the case, to act on such unchallenged or uncontroverted evidence before it as the court below did in respect of the said evidence of the P.W.11 in the instant case.

There are too many decided authorities in this regard. See the cases of Nwabuoku v. Otteh (1961) 1 ANLR 487 @ 490, Odulaia v. Haddad (1973) 11 S.C 357; Nigerian Maritime Services Ltd v. Alhaji Bello Afolabi (1978) 2 S.C 79 @ 81; Isaac Omorogbe v. Daniel Lawani (1980) 3 – 4 S.C 108 @ 117; and Olohunde & anor. v. Prof Adeyoiu (2000) 6 SCNJ 470 @ 475 just to mention but a few.

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AYINKE v. LAWAL & ORS (1994) LPELR-680(SC)

“Where evidence given by a party to any proceedings was not challenged by the opposite party who, like in the instant case, had the opportunity to do so, it is always open to the Court seised of the matter to act on such unchallenged evidence before it. See Isaac Omoregbe v. Daniel Lawani (1980) 3-4 S.C. J08 at 117, Odulaja v. Haddad (1973) 11 S.C. 357;”

Whether an Unchallenged Evidence is Admissible in all cases

LUFTHANSA GERMAN AIRLINES v. ROBERT ODIESE (2006) 7 NWLR (Pt. 978) 34 – Court of Appeal

The principle that unchallenged/uncontradicted evidence should be accepted by the court is not at large. Therefore, it is not in all cases that unchallenged evidence of a witness will be swallowed hook, line and sinker.

The requirement is that for such evidence to be accepted and relied on by the court, it has to be in line with the pleadings, cogent and credible. Thus, where evidence is unchallenged, if it is at variance with the pleadings, and not credible, it cannot form the basis of any decision that can be sustained.

In fact, even in situations where evidence of special damages will rest on the ipse dixit of the plaintiff, where it is not credible though unchallenged, the fact that it was not challenged will not improve its quality. Such unchallenged ipse dixit evidence is not an automatic proof of special damages.

Is a party who produces unchallenged and uncontroverted evidence automatically entitled to judgment?

ALHAJI ABDU USMAN MAIDARA v. ALHAJI SHEHU HALILU (2000) 13 NWLR (Pt. 684) 257 – Court of Appeal

It is not always the case that when a party produces unchallenged and uncontroverted evidence he is entitled to judgment. This is because unchallenged and uncontroverted evidence is not synonymous with prove by credible evidence. The unchallenged and uncontroverted evidence might be worthless or might fall far short of filting the imaginary scale in favour of a party tendering unchallenged and uncontroverted evidence.

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