Kogi Chief Judge Justice Nasir Ajanah has stated that the agelong problem of admissibility of electronically generated evidence in law courts has been solved by relevant sections of the Evidence Act 2011 (As amended).
According to him, problems of admissibility of electronic evidence in Nigeria hitherto posed some challenges to legal practitioners in the courts as the old Evidence Act, was not in line with global reality.
The Chief Judge disclosed this at the formal presentation of the book: ”A Guide to Admissibility of Electronic Evidence” authored by Hon. Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye to him in Lokoja.
He further stated that the old Evidence Act was ”Anachronistic and not in line with global reality” adding that the law predated the ICT age and had to change to give way for new innovations.
With the passage of time, he noted, the surge in the use of electronic devices in both business transactions and day-to-day personal relationships underscored the need for change.
Ajanah further revealed that after the initial uncertainties ”A combination of Sections 84 and 258 of the Evidence Act 2011 classifies electronic evidence in the category of documents and its admissibility made clear.”
The Chief Judge commended the author for delving into a dissemination of knowledge by authoring a legal work of such a feat “It is a testimony of the resourcefulness, industry and intellectual capability of the writer.”
”The problem hitherto encountered regarding computer printouts, e-mail printouts, video cassettes, VCDs and tape recordings, documents generated from computers and ancillary issues was put to rest”, he observed and recommended the book to all legal practitioners.”
Speaking earlier, reviewer of the book, Mr. Martin Idachaba described the seven chaptered 264-page book as an intellectual masterpiece.
Idachaba who observed that the book was novel added that it dealt with among others issues, the general principles of admissibility of electronic evidence, trial, evidence, facts and comparative analysis of issues surrounding admissibility of computer generated evidence.
In his remarks, author of the book, Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye emphasised that he was motivated to write the book in 2009, when he attended the 2nd Seminar on Economic and Financial Crimes for English Speaking Judges of the Economic Community of West African State that took place in Accra, Ghana.
He stated in his opening remarks, that the Director-General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) observed with regret that most financial crimes in West Africa were committed electronically but yet electronic documents generated from computers were still inadmissible in evidence in most West African Countries.
According to him, he took up the challenge from his remark, by researching into the law in relation to the situation in Nigeria.
“I found a disturbing trend by which documents generated from computers were being rejected as inadmissible in judicial proceedings in Nigeria because, the old Evidence Act did not recognise such documents or on the ground that there was no legislative amendment to take care of same” he said.
He stressed that the outcome of the research was a small pamphlet he wrote in 2010 entitled: Admissibility of Electronic Evidence: The Journey So Far in Nigeria.
He mentioned in the book, that he advocated that Nigerian Courts, be proactive in treating issues relating to admissibility electronic evidence in order to move with the rest of the world.
“In 2011, the Old Evidence Act was repealed and the Evidence Act 2011 was enacted, Specifi- cally, Section 84 of the Evidence Act 2011 makes provision for the admissibility of electronically generated documents. This book, is, therefore, an update of the 2010 booklet” he declared.
Justice Omolaye-Ajileye noted that there is no doubt that old things are passing away as we can no longer deny that we live in the age of computers. Stressing that one defining feature of our time is the omnipresence of technology which has defined or re-defined how we live, work or think.
“There is also the prevalence of Internet access which has affected every human endeavour. The legal system has equally been affected by the computer revolution. This has fundamentally affected the way legal proceedings are conducted. Information gathered from electronic devices now feature in our courts regularly”. He emphasised
According to him, the book has come to fill a gap in Nigerian Jurisprudence, created by a paucity of texts and authorities on the subject of electronic evidence and also as a guide to assist lawyers, prosecutors, and courts in treating the subject with ease.
He thanked the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed for writing the foreword of the book.
He explained that the book was meant to be a guide on the application of the provisions of section 84 and 258 of the Evidence Act.
Omolaye-Ajileye held that the non-admissibility of electronic evidence by the courts provided cover for financial crime offenders until 2011 when it was amended and even after that, lawyers still found it difficult to tender electronic evidence.
Goodwill messages poured in from President of Kogi Customary Court of Appeal, Justice Shaibu Atadoga, the state Grand Khadi, Justice Zakariya Idakwoji and Justice Phoebe Ayilla, Judge of the Federal High Court, Lokoja among others from both the Bench and Bar.
By: Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
This Day News