Supreme Court dismisses Dickson’s objection to video evidence
The Supreme Court has dismissed an objection by Bayelsa State Governor Seriake Dickson to the decision to watch the video tape tendered at the Bayelsa State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal by the All Progressive Congress (APC) and its governorship candidate, Timipre Sylva. The tape is to substantiate allegations of fraud and malpractices in the election of Dickson.
Counsel to Sylva, Sebastine Hon (SAN), had submitted before the apex court that the objection of Dickson against the playing of the video by the tribunal was misplaced, unwarranted, baseless and lacking in merit.
In a unanimous judgment of the seven justices in the Supreme Court, Justice Chime Centus Nweze ordered the governorship election tribunal to play the video tape tendered in evidence.
The evidence, tendered by a witness of the APC candidate to prove his petition against the governorship election conducted on December 5 and 6 of 2015 and January 9 of 2016 is expected to be played before the open court at the next sitting of the tribunal.
The apex court held that the foundation for the admission of the said video tape was properly laid by the petitioners and in compliance with Section 84 of the Evidence Act in their petitions.
The judge therefore directed that the witness who produced the video tape, Emmanuel Ogunseye, in the interest of justice and having complied with the relevant laws, should be allowed by the tribunal to demonstrate it in the open court.
Justice Nweze held that the objection of Tayo Oyetibo, counsel to the appellant, to the demonstration of the video tape “rail-loaded the tribunal into an unwarranted exercise.”
“This is the fallacious piece of reasoning because Section 84 of the Evidence Act did not require production of two certificates before an electronically generated evidence can be demonstrated in court.
“The court has no power in making a cluster enquiry outside the evidence adduced before the tribunal as far as the video tapes already admitted in evidence by the tribunal is concerned,” the judge said.
Justice Nweze added that, in the instant case, the single certificate tendered by the witness had satisfied Section 84 of the Evidence Act and there was no need for any hindrance to be put forward before the demonstration of the exhibit in question.
“Demonstrating the evidence in court will allow the applicant to link the evidence and also allow the opponent to test and contest the accuracy of the said evidence.”
“In conclusion, I found that the appeal by the appellant is wholly unmeritorious and is dismissed and that the judgment of the court of appeal delivered on June 24 is hereby affirmed,” the judge held.