EVIDENCE 1.4 RELEVANCE AND ADMISSIBILITY
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), 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.
 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.