Admissibility of Audio-Visual Images: The Nuances of Sections 83 and 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011

Elvis-Imo I. Gina, O. I. Derik-Ferdinand


Quality and credible evidence, but not quantity is the linchpin of the adversarial legal jurisprudence operational in Nigeria. A break in the nexus of connectivity renders a piece of evidence inadmissible. This paper examines the legal compass on the admissibility of audio-visual images in the course of litigation. It answers fundamental questions as whether video images are categorized as downloaded documents, computer printouts or e-documents; whether downloaded documents from the internet are technically co-terminus with electronically aided documents; andwhat section of the Evidence Act regulates the admissibility of video films. The tools of investigation to analyse the selected indices are meta-analytical style, doctrinal comparisons, interviews both overt and covert, as well as the utilization of primary and secondary sources of law. This paper observes that Section 83 and not 84 of the Evidence Act regulates the admissibility of video images. Video clips produced and stored in tapes, cassettes, memory cards or compact discs are not computer generated documents but are merely commonplace electronicallyaided documents without more. It concludes that video magnetic images aremere documentary evidencewhich do not require special mode of production as computer generated documents. It therefore recommends that sections 83 and 84 of the Evidence Act relate to two distinct set of documents and this difference must be identified in the interpretation and application of these sections.

Keywords: Audio-visual, images, documents, evidence, admissibility, computer.

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