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U.B.N. Plc V. Agbontaen & Anor. (CA/B/204/2016, 24 Jan 2018)

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➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
U.B.N. Plc V. Agbontaen & Anor. (CA/B/204/2016, 24 Jan 2018)

by Branham Chima.

➥ ISSUES RAISED
Bank statement of account;
Section 84 Evidence Act 2011.

➥ CASE FACT/HISTORY
This appeal is against the Ruling of the High Court of Edo State holden at Benin City delivered on the 11th day of April, 2016. The 1st Respondent herein had as claimant in the lower Court, taken out a writ of summons against the Appellant as defendant, wherein he claimed damages for slander. The 1st Respondent is the Managing Director of the 2nd Respondent to whom the Appellant granted loan facility. Owing to disagreements over the said facility, the Respondents commenced the said action and upon receipt of service of the necessary processes, the Appellant filed the statement of defence and a counter-claim bringing in the 2nd Respondent into the action. The 1st Respondent thereafter withdrew the suit against the Appellant and it was struck out while the Appellant continued with its counter-claim against both Respondents. At the hearing of the counter-claim, the Appellant, through its sole witness sought to tender in evidence a computer print out of the statement of account of the 2nd Respondent as Exhibit. Counsel for the Respondents objected to the admissibility of same for non-compliance with Section 84 of the Evidence Act 2011. The learned trial Judge, in a considered Ruling, upheld the objection and held that the said document was inadmissible and should be marked Rejected. The Appellant was dissatisfied with the said Ruling and consequently filed a notice of appeal on 23/4/2016.

➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION(S)
[APPEAL DISMISSED]

I. Whether the statement of account sought to be tendered in evidence by the Appellant being a computer generated document does not need to satisfy the provisions of Section 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011 before it can qualify for admission as evidence?

RESOLUTION: IN RESPONDENT’S FAVOUR.
[THE BANK STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT MUST SATISFY SECTION 84 OF THE EVIDENCE ACT
‘It is however worthy of note that while the learned counsel for the Appellant insists that the provisions of Section 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011 is of general application and Sections 89(1)(h) and 90(1)(e) of the specific application in which case they take priority over the former. I do not however see it that way. It is therefore in my humble view, the other way round. What is more, while Section 84 prescribed the conditions for the admissibility of statements in documents produced by computers, Sections 89(1)(h) and 90(1)(e) deal with admissibility of secondary evidence generally, and the conditions for their admissibility. This reality can be gleaned from the marginal notes of the relevant sections. In Section 84, the marginal note reads thus: Admissibility of statement in document produced by computers. While in Sections 89 and 90 respectively they read thus: Cases in which secondary evidence relating to document are admissible and Nature of secondary evidence admissible under Section 89. It thus emphasises the imperative nature of the provisions of Section 84 of the Act with regard to admissibility of document produced by computer whether being tendered in evidence as a primary (original) or secondary evidence. While on the other hand Sections 89(1)(h) and 90(1)(e) deals with the admissibility of secondary evidence generally, including bankers books and not limited to electronic or computer derived documents. In the instant case, I believe that there is no disputing the fact that the statement of account sought to be tendered had its origin from a computer whether or not it is asserted to be extracted from an electronic ledger which to all intents and purposes the information therein was imputed through a computer and the print out also derived therefrom. The point that I am trying to make here is that, whether the statement of account or electronic ledger is to be tendered either in its original form or as a secondary evidence it is required that it must satisfy the conditions prescribed by Section 84 of the Act.’
‘In this regard, I am inclined to accept the fact that the case of Kubor v. Dickson cited as (2012) LPELR 15364(CA) is applicable. Therein this Court while analysing the requirements for the admissibility of documents produced by a computer as provided for under the Section 84(1) and (2) of the Evidence Act 2011 held inter alia at pages 3 to 4 as follows: Section 84(2) provides for the conditions to be satisfied in relation to the statement and computer from which the documents sought to be tendered and admitted were produced. A party who seeks to tender in evidence a computer generated document needs to do more than just tendering same from the bar. Evidence in relation to the use of computer must be called to establish the conditions set out under Section 84(2) of the Evidence Act. The above decision of this Court was given a stamp of approval by the Supreme Court in Omisore v. Aregbesola (2015) LPELR 24803 (SC). Therein, the issue was whether only internet generated documents are caught by the admissibility requirements of Section 84 of the Evidence Act 2011. It was held per Nweze JSC at pages 97 to 98 of the Report that: “As noted above, the main plank of the argument of the first and second cross-respondents, with regard to the second issue above, was that only internet-generated documents are caught by the admissibility requirements of Section 84 of the 2011 Evidence Act. With profound respect, this argument is untenable, S. Mason (ed) Electronic Evidence: Disclosure, discovery and Admissibility, (London: LexisNexis, Buttersworths, 2007) Passion; HM. Malek (ed), Phipson on Evidence (London: Sweet and Maxwell, 2010) Seventeenth Edition) Passion; R v. Shepherd (1993) 1 All ER 225, 231 (a decision of the defunct House of Lords). Kubor v. Dickson (2013) 4 NWLR (Pt. 1345) 534; 577-578. Even the very chapeau or opening statement in Section 84(1) contradicts this submission. The relevant phrase here is a statement contained in a document produced by the computer…Interestingly, the drafts person did not leave the meaning of the word computer to conjecture. In Section 258(1), the Act defines computer to mean any device for storing and processing information, and any reference to information being derived from other information is a reference to its being derived from it by calculating; comparison or any other process.” Furthermore, in Dickson v. Sylva (2016) LPELR 41257 (SC) the apex Court also citing Kubor v. Dickson (supra) concluded wholesomely that the correct interpretation to be given to Section 84 of the Evidence Act where electronically generated document is sought to be demonstrated is that such electronic generated evidence must be certified and must comply with the pre-conditions laid down in Section 84(2).’

Available:  Nigerian Aviation Handling Company Limited v. Yinka World Investment Limited & Anor (2012)

‘From the above cited authorities of this Court and the Supreme Court, the inevitable conclusion reachable in the circumstance is that any computer/electronically generated document, whether tendered as original or secondary evidence is required to comply with Section 84(2) of the Evidence Act, 2011. The electronic ledger or statement of account derived therefrom are not excluded, being documents derivable or generated from a computer. The sound arguments canvassed by learned counsel for the Appellant are quite commendable but unfortunately the requirements of the law are clear to the letter and should be accordingly complied with.’]
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.
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✓ DECISION:
‘In the final result, the sole issue raised for determination is hereby resolved against the Appellant. This appeal is consequently dismissed and the Ruling of the High Court of Edo State delivered on 11th April, 2016 is hereby affirmed. ₦50,000 cost is awarded against the Appellant in favour of the Respondents.’

Available:  Access Bank Plc V. Edo State Board of Internal Revenue (2018) - CA/B/333/2015

➥ FURTHER DICTA:
⦿

➥ PARTIES:
⦿ APPELLANT(S)
U.B.N. Plc

⦿ RESPONDENT(S)
Agbontaen & Anor.

➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Samuel Chukwudumebi Oseji, JCA.

Available:  Alexander Madiebo & Ors v. Godwin Nwachukwu Nwankwo (2001)

➥ APPEARANCES
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT(S)
Jim E. Okodaso

⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT(S)
D.N. Otor

➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS

➥ REFERENCED (LEGISLATION)

➥ REFERENCED (CASE)

➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)

End

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