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18 Jan

EVIDENCE 2.7 VISIT TO LOCUS IN QUO

VISIT TO LOCUS IN QUO.

 

The locus in quo is the place in which the cause of action arose or where anything is alleged in the pleading to have been done[1].

As was noted in Seismograph Service Nigeria Ltd V Ogbeni; where there are conflicting assertions on the existence or non-existence of a material and immovable object, the proper procedure is for the court to visit the locus. To see for itself what had been testified by the witnesses… To visualise-Briggs V Briggs… To gather visual collection of the evidence[2] with a view to ascertaining the real condition/nature of the subject matter.

Section 125. All facts, except the contents of documents, may be proved by oral evidence. Section 127 provides: (1) If oral evidence refers to the existence or condition of any material thing other than a document, the court may, if it deems fit— (a) require the production of such material thing for its inspection, OR (b) Inspect any moveable or immovable property the inspection of which may be material to the proper determination of the question in dispute.

(2) When an inspection of property under this Section is required to be held at a place outside the courtroom[3], the court shall either (Section 76 Proviso ii):

(a) be adjourned to the place where the subject-matter of the said inspection may be and the proceeding shall continue at that place until the court further adjourns back to its original place of sitting, or to some other place of sitting; or

(b) Attend and make an inspection of the subject-matter only, evidence, if any, of what transpired there being given in court afterwards[4], and in either case the defendant, if any, shall be present[5]. Ayisatu Adunfe and Ors V IGP

Additionally:

  • The judge should make a record of the inspection in the record book-Aaron Nwizuk and Ors V Chief Waribo Eneyok and Ors.
  • The visit should be made at any stage before judgment-Aremu V G. Western Nigeria[6]. Arutu V The Queen[7].R V Martin : Agbafuna Ejidike and Ors V Christopher Obiora.
  • The judge cannot delegate the visit-Olanudu V Temige[8]. Anakwenze V Tapp Industry Ltd[9].

Note that substantial compliance may be accepted especially where no injustice is occasioned by a minor irregularity/non-compliance-Bello V COP.

 

[1] E.g. scene of accident, disputed land etc.

[2] Dr Abiodun Odusote Visit to Locus In Quo Lecture Notes.

[3] i.e. when the court wants to visit the locus in quo.

[4] Meaning that the witnesses must confirm/recount (on oath and in the court room) what they did or experienced at locus when the court reassembles. Albert Dogbe 1947 WACA 184 at 185.

[5] In Ayisatu Adunfe and Ors V IGP, the court held that the defendants/accused must be present during the visit (notwithstanding that the accused persons were about 125 in number and could not be conveniently conveyed to the locus).

[6] 1967 NMLR 62.

[7] 1959 4 FBC 66. Where court visited the locus after close of trial and judgment has been reserved.

[8] 2002 FWLR pt 120 1634 where the judge delegated the visit to the acting president of the Customary Court. Such was declared wrong on appeal.

[9] 1991 7 NWLR pt 202 177. Where delegation to clerk amounted to a nullity

Isochukwu

Quite eccentric really

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