Forensics Examiner and Digital Evidence in Nigeria

2111 Words Oct 14th, 2011 9 Pages
ADMISSIBILITY OF THE OPINION OF A COMPUTER FORENSICS EXAMINER AS AN EXPERT EVIDENCE UNDER NIGERIAN LAW OF EVIDENCE By

Philip O Nwachukwu
As a general rule under Nigerian law of Evidence, the opinion evidence is irrelevant in court trials. Thus section 66 of the Evidence Act CAP E14, Laws of the. Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004 provides that the fact that any person is of the opinion that a fact in issue, or relevant to the issue, does or does not exist, is irrelevant to the existence of such fact except as provided in sections 57 to 65 of the Evidence Act. Exceptions to this general rule are contained in sections 57 to 65 of the Evidence Act, which make opinion of experts and non-experts relevant with regard to foreign law, native law
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It is important to note that it is principally the duty of the court to determine who is an expert, ie, whether a person is sufficiently skilled to give expert evidence. (see the case of R v. Onitiri (1946) 12 WACA 58 at 59); see also section 186 of the Evidence Act). The court is assisted in discharging this duty by the expert witness stating his qualification and experience before leading evidence. See the case of Azu v. The State (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt. 299) page 303. It should also be noted that the skill required for this purpose is not necessarily acquired by academic qualification or training; it may also be by experience (Shell Petroleum Development Co. (Nig) Ltd. V. Tiebo (1996), 4 NWLR (pt. 445) P. 657). Although the court will normally accept an un-contradicted expert evidence ( Siesmograph Service (Nig) Ltd V. Apkororo (1974) 6 SC 119), it will not be bound to do so where such opinion conflicts with common sense (Okoh v. The State. (1971) NMLR 140) or where the expert fails to state the basis of his opinion (Idudhe v. Eseh (1996) 5 NWLR (Pt. 451) P. 750). The correct test of the relevance of the witness`s opinion as that of an expert is whether he is specially skilled on the particular field in question (Siesmograph Service (Nig) Ltd. V. Onakpasa (1972) 1 ANLR (part 1) 343. Where evidence of an expert on a particular field is
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