Blacks law dictionary, the edition defines evidence as something including testimony, documents and tangible objects that tends to prove or disprove the existence of an alleged fact. Also the court in Awuse V. Odili (20050 10 NWLR (Pt 952) Pg 416 adopted the definition of evidence which stated that it is “Any species of proof or probable matter legally presented at the trial of an issue by the act of the parties and through the medium of intress, records, documents, exhibits etc for the purpose of inducing belief in the mind of the court or jury as to their condition.
Having known at evidence is, can a court then act on an evidence not tendered in evidence. The law is well settled that no court of law is empowered to make reference or rely on any piece of evidence which halfs not been properly and formally placed before it, in the course of reaching its decision in a case. See Godnews Agbi & Anor V. Chief Audu Ogeh & Ors (2005) & NWLR (A 926) 40. The only circumstance, whereby a court is permitted to make reference or rely on evidence not tendered and formally admitted before it, is when the evidence falls under the categories of evidence that the court is permitted to take judicial notice of, in accordance with the evidence Act. Note that unless an evidence is formally tendered in court and admitted it is not permissible for a learned trial judge to make reference to it or rely on it in his judgment. See Oranike V. State (2018) LPELR-45481.
The fact that evidence has been front loaded as proof of evidence or alongside with a criminal information file (as the case maybe), does not automatically qualify it as admissible and reliable evidence, the evidence is merely frontloaded to inform an accused person(s) of the charge preferred against him and inform him in advance of the likely evidence that may be adduced against him in line with the constitutional provision of section 36 (6)(a) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended). The law does not believe in springing up surprises on Parties in a suit. In the case of Odiaka V. State (2013) LPELR-21977 (CA) Per Ogunweiniju JCA held at pages 14-16 as follows: “Let me say right off that the proof of evidence is a document served on the defence and to the court containing names of in trusses the prosecution want to call and a phrase of what they intend to say. Every accused in a trial by information is entitled to the proof of evidence as that he can prepare a defence to the case the prosecution intends to make against him. It does not constitute evidence. The court before whom it is filed cannot use any of its contacts in aid of the prosecution or the defence. It is only evidence on oath given by a witness in open court that is relevant and admissible in a criminal trial……”
Tendering of evidence therefore is to ensure that the opposable side as well as the court keep track of the documents while taking evidence. Non- tendency of the evidence makes it difficult for the court to rely on such evidence.
Nkechi Bright Ewere