1.1 Background of the Study
The word Testimony means: the evidence of a witness usually given in court and usually under oath.1The first source of the proof of a crime or a right in islamic law is SHAHADA i.e Testimony literally means: information of what one has witnessed or seen or beheld with his eyes, declaration of what one knows, decisive information, it also means to be present.
Technically means: to give true information before a competent court of law what one has seen or known for the purpose of proving or disproving a right or crime.2
The law of evidence encompasses the rules and legal principles that govern the proof of facts in a legal proceeding, these rules determine what evidence must or must not be considered by the trier of fact in reaching its decision and sometimes the weight that may be given to that evidence.
The law of evidence is also concerned with the quantum (amount) quality of proof is how reliable such evidence should be considered. This includes such concepts as hearsay authentication, admissibility, reasonable doubt and clear and convincing evidence.
There are several types of evidence, depending on the form or source, evidence governs the use of testimony (e.g oral or written statements, such asaffidavit), exhibits (e.g physical objects), documentary material, or demonstrative evidence
1. Bone, S., Osborn’s Concise Law Dictionary, Sweet and Maxwell, London, 2001, p.376.
2. Cowdhury, A., The Islamic Law of Evidence, Kitab Bhavan, New Delhi, India, 2006, p.19.
which are admissible i.e allowed to be considered by the trier of fact, such as jury in a judicial or administrative proceedings, e.g a court of law when a dispute whether relating to a civil or criminal matter, reaches the court there will always be a number of issues which one party will have to prove in order to persuade the court to decide in his favour.The law must ensure certain guidelines are set out in order to ensure that evidence presented to the court can be regarded as trustworthy.
In Nigerian law the rule of corroboration in criminal cases requires that there must be two pieces of evidence, to prove each essential fact, eventhough this corroboration requirement is no longer applies in civil cases with the exception of some areas of family law, such as divorce, when another individual not party to the marriage must act as witness.
Also in nigerian law, evidence that would otherwise be admissible at trial may be excluded at the discretion of the trial judge if it would be unfair to the defendant to admit it.Evidence of a confession may be excluded because it was obtained by oppression or because the confession was made in consequence of anything said or done to the defendant that would be likely to make the confession unreliable. In these circumstances, it would be open to the trial judge to exclude the evidence of the confession.
Further the authentication requirement has import primarily in jury trials, if evidence of authencity is lacking in a bench trial, the trial judge will simply dismiss the evidence as unpersuasive or irrelevant.
AN ANALYSIS OF THE USE OF TESTIMONY AS A MEANS OF PROOF IN NIGERIA