Evidence is the available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid. Black’s law dictionary 7th edition, defines evidence as something, including testimony, documents and tangible objects that tends to prove or disprove the existence of an alleged facts. Phipson in Phipson on Evidence 17th edition 2010, defines evidence as the testimony whether oral, documentary or real, which may be legally received in order to disprove some facts in issue. There is no statutory definition of the word evidence.
The concept of evidence has been judicially ascertained by the Supreme Court in the case of Akintola & Anor V Solano (1986) 4 S.C 141 at 184. In that case Oputa JSC stated as follows.
“If a thing is self-evident, it does not require evidence. What therefore is evidence? Simply put. It is the means by which any matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation maybe established or disproved, evidence is therefore necessary to prove or disprove an issue of fact”.
The court in Awuse V. Odili (2005) 10 NWLR (pt952) PG 416, adopted the judicial definition of evidence, when it stated that it is “Any specie of proof, or probable matter legally presented at the trial of an issue by the act of the parties and through the medium of witness; records, documents, exhibits, concrete objects etc, for the purpose of inducing belief in the minds of the court or jury as to their contention. Also in Eze V. Okoloagu (2010) 3 NWLR (Pt 1180) Pg 185., the court stated while defining evidence that “As it is known, the term evidence is defined as the facts, signs, or objects that make you believe that something is true or the information that is used in a court of law to try to prove something. Case law authorities define evidence as the means whereby the court is informed as to the issues of facts as ascertained by the pleadings. It is the testimony whether oral, documentary or real which is produced before a court or tribunal to some facts in dispute.
There are several major types of evidence, they are documentary, digital, demonstrative, exculpatory, physical evidence, prima facie evidence, scientific evidence and testimony. The testimony evidence is the most common form of evidence in the legal system. The law of evidence governs what can be presented in court, example oral or written statements such as affidavits and exhibits like physical objects and other documentary materials which is admissible in a judiciary proceeding. One of the important criteria that governs the admission of evidence in a judicial process, is that of relevance. If the evidence does not relate directly or indirectly to the issue at hand. It should not be admitted as proof for either the prosecution or the defence in the case.
Nkechi Bright Ewere