67 J.L. Pol'y & Globalization 1 (2017)

handle is hein.journals/jawpglob67 and id is 1 raw text is: 


Journal of Law, Policy and Globalization                                                    www.iiskem
ISSN 2224-3240 (Paper) ISSN 2224-3259 (Online)
Vol.67, 2017                                                                                      ISIE


Admissibility of Audio-Visual Images: The Nuances of Sections 83

                          and 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011

                               * Elvis-Imo I. Gina, LL.B, B.L, LL.M, Ph.D
Senior Lecturer and Head of Department, Jurisprudence and Public Law, Faculty of Law, Niger Delta University,
                                             Bayelsa State

                               0. I. Derik-Ferdinand, LL.B,B.L, ACI, ARB
Legal Practitioner and Chartered Arbitrator and Lecturer, Department of Law, Bayelsa State College of Arts and
                             Science, Elebele-Ogbia P.M.B 168, Bayelsa State

Abstract
Quality and credible evidence, but not quantity is the linchpin of the adversarial legal jurisprudence operational
in Nigeria. A break in the nexus of connectivity renders a piece of evidence inadmissible. This paper examines
the legal compass on the admissibility of audio-visual images in the course of litigation. It answers fundamental
questions as whether video  images are  categorized as downloaded  documents, computer  printouts or e-
documents; whether  downloaded  documents from the internet are technically co-terminus with electronically
aided documents; andwhat section of the Evidence Act regulates the admissibility of video films. The tools of
investigation to analyse the selected indices are meta-analytical style, doctrinal comparisons, interviews both
overt and covert, as well as the utilization of primary and secondary sources of law. This paper observes that
Section 83 and not 84 of the Evidence Act regulates the admissibility of video images. Video clips produced and
stored in tapes, cassettes, memory cards or compact discs are not computer generated documents but are merely
commonplace   electronicallyaided documents without more. It concludes that video magnetic images aremere
documentary  evidencewhich do not require special mode of production as computer generated documents. It
therefore recommends that sections 83 and 84 of the Evidence Act relate to two distinct set of documents and
this difference must be identified in the interpretation and application of these sections.
Keywords:  Audio-visual, images, documents, evidence, admissibility, computer.

1.  Introduction
Video magnetic images were not automatic documentary evidence in the legal firmament of Nigeria until 2011
when  a new Evidence Act was enacted to take the centre stage on the rules and regulations of matters relating to
evidence. It was the proposition in some legal quarters that the definition of document in the previous Evidence
Act prior to 20111 does  not accommodate  audio-visual images as admissible documents,  but concentrate
wholesomely  on print documents. The penultimate court in buttressing the above assertion in, Udoro v Governor
ofAkwalbom   State2, held that:
          Video  cassette has not been classified as a form of documentary evidence in ourevidence
          rules and, as such, has not been made admissible by our Evidence Act. Since the Evidence
          Act did not permit its admissibility, it would have been wrong for the trial court to have
          allowed it in evidence and had a view of it. Until our procedural laws and Evidence Act are
          amended  video cassettes remain inadmissible.3
     Howbeit, the development described above did not completely estop the court from admitting audio-visual
materials in sporadic circumstances. Some proactive courts belonging to the jurisprudential sphere of judicial
activism,successfullystretched the elasticity vestibule of Section 91 of the repealed Evidence Act to allow in
evidence audio-visual images,4 and thereby expanding the horizon of the law. Those line of cases that admitted
video images against all odds before 2011, have no doubt paved the way for the express inclusion of such
documentary  evidence in  the corpus juris of Nigeria. Bravo, to such forward  looking umpires for the
development  of our legal system. The law must grow and ought  not to be in perpetual stagnation, genuine
inference must be made in appropriate cases to enlarge the fringes and frontiers of the law to assimilate the
contemporary reality of the tides and times.
     Under the Evidence Act, 2011, the semantics of documents have been drastically expanded to assimilate
several classes of computer and electronically aided documents in order to quell any other altercation save


'Evidence Act 2004 Cap E14, Vol. 6, Laws of the Federation 2004, now repealed by the Evidence Act 2011
2 [2010] 11 NWRL (Part 1205) 322 CA, [338, paras. A-B].
3Emphasis supplied
  Instances where audio-visual images were admitted in evidence under the repealed Evidence Act include:Ekeh vAmaechi
  [2010] ALL FWLR   (Part 512) 1332 CA; INEC v Action Congress [2009] ALL FWLR   (Part 480) 732 CA; Orji
  vUgochukwu [2009] 17 NWLR (Part 1161) 207 CA; Maduekwe vOkoroafor [1992] 9 NWLR (Part 263) 69 CA.


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