15 Jan



RELEVANCY: “Relevant” is defined in Black’s Law Dictionary as …logically connected and tending to prove or disprove a matter in issue. Section 258 in defining fact in issue seems to correlate with relevancy. In Osolu V Osolu, fact in issue was defined as what the parties disagree about. In R V Kilbourne, the court noted that relevancy means a fact that is in issue… a crucial issue. The facts in issue that determines what is relevant-Okonji V Njokanma. Other surrounding circumstances may also determine.

Phipson: facts which as a matter of logic or experience tend to render the existence of other facts probable or improbable are relevant facts.

ADMISSIBILITY: Is a matter of law as whatever the law says is admissible is admissible. Facts declared to be admissible under the Evidence Act or other Statute in force in Nigeria are admissible-Agunbiade V Sasegbon.

In a civil matter, an inadmissible evidence may be rejected but in a criminal matter, an inadmissible evidence must be rejected-Raimi V Akintoye.

  • Step one: an evidence is pleaded.
  • Step two: the court asks; is this evidence relevant?
  • Step three: after determining that an evidence is relevant, the court asks; is it admissible?

The relationship and nature of relevancy and admissibility.

Only relevant and admissible facts should be taken into consideration by the courts-Section 1 EA.

Relevancy and admissibility both generally guide the courts on whether to accept or reject a fact/evidence.

Relevancy a matter of logic while admissibility is a matter of law.

Relevancy is the precursor of admissibility. Meaning that evidence must be relevant before its admissibility is considered-ACB V Gwagwada. Also in Haruna V AG Fed; the court noted that admissibility is based on relevance.

In Suberu V Sumonu, the court noted that a relevant fact may not be admitted on various grounds like:

  • The evidence appears to be too remote to the fact in issue. See Noor Mohammed V
  • The law (EA, Statute, etc.) renders the evidence inadmissible. E.g. Documents required to be stamped not stamped; (Section 22 Stamp Duties Act-Candido Da Rocha V Hussain[1]), Unregistered deed of conveyance-Suberu V State (2010) Vol. 31 WRN p. 1 at pp 16-17. Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution evidence relating to immune people, Section 1(b) EA
  • Where the interest of justice demands.
  • Where it would be contrary to public policy to admit such evidence.
  • Where the evidence was illegally obtained and the court wishes to reject it.


[1]            In practice, the defaulting party is usually asked to go back and stamp the document. This was done in Commercial Bank Credit Lyonnais V Union Food (Nig) Ltd, where the court held that failure to stamp is not a crime nor would it render document illegal or void since the purpose of stamp duty is to raise revenue for the government. Failure to stamp being a mere irregularity could be remedied by stamping. Same position was held in Union Trust Ltd V AG Federation.


Quite eccentric really

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