Electronic Evidence by Hon. Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye is a most authoritative book on the laws regulating electronic evidence in Nigeria. The book, which became bestseller weeks after it was released, is easy to read and wonderfully packaged. It covered all facet of electronic evidence as never has been done by another book.
Below is the preface to the revolutionary book and a summary of the its chapters by the Author, Justice Omolaye-Ajileye
“Admissibility of Electronic Evidence: The Journey so Far, was published in 2010 in form of a pamphlet. It was my first published work on the subject of electronic evidence. It focused on the pre-2011 controversies engendered by conflicting decisions of courts in Nigeria on admissibility of electronic evidence. The Legislature intervened by removing the cloud of uncertainty that surrounded the subject with the enactment of the Evidence Act, 2011 and a specific provision for admissibility of electronic evidence under Section 84.
The 2010 booklet metamorphosed into a book: A Guide to Admissibility of Electronic Evidence in 2016. It updated the 2010 booklet. It explained the general principles of admissibility of electronic evidence and how to introduce such evidence in court in accordance with the provisions of section 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011.
This book is a complete work on the subject of electronic evidence. It is broader in scope and coverage than the previous volumes. It, however, stands on the solid foundation of its predecessors, presenting the law on electronic evidence in a more elaborate manner to promote a better understanding. It has kept pace with recent cases of the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court and development witnessed on the law of electronic evidence around the world in recent years. My over-arching goal remains unchanged; to wit: to present a comprehensive text that covers the waterfront on electronic evidence in Nigeria. With each succeeding volume, I have adhered to this goal by steadily enhancing the depth and breadth of the book’s coverage.
This current volume contains updated and additional chapters on core issues covered, but condensed, in the previous works. Discussions on such issues have now been embellished and carefully aggrandized. Most importantly, this book identifies some basic challenges faced in court in tendering and treating electronic documents. It attempts to address such challenges. It acknowledges and considers a global trend at liberalising admissibility of electronic evidence. The old adage that “everything changes; but everything stays the same” is an appropriate mantra for this edition as it recommends a proactive and purposeful interpretation of section 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011.
The book is organised according to a simple commonsense structure designed to facilitate proper insight and comprehension of the subjects treated. It is divided into four parts. The chapters in the first part provide an introduction into some basic terms and concepts. Chapter 1 explains general concepts in the Law of Evidence. Chapter 2 describes computer and computer-related terms. Chapter 3 discusses the nature of electronic evidence. Chapter 4 considers electronic signature, while Chapter 5 examines the true meaning of a document.
The second part of the book concentrates on the application and interpretation of section 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011. Chapter 6 surveys the decisions of superior courts in Nigeria and their attitudes to admissibility of electronic evidence under the old Evidence Act (now repealed). Chapter 7 provides a general overview on the provisions of the Evidence Act, 2011 relating to admissibility of electronic evidence, while Chapter 8 furnishes an analytical framework of section 84. Chapter 9 articulates what is required to authenticate electronic evidence under section 84. Chapter 10 elucidates on the place of relevancy in getting electronic documents authenticated. The process of presenting oral evidence under Section 84(2) is detailed in Chapter 11. Chapter 12 is dedicated to the requirements of certificate of authentication/trust worthiness under section 84(4) of the Evidence Act.
Chapter 13 is, by far, the linchpin of this book. It suggests an approach to interpretation of section 84(4) of proactively extracting some exceptions under the sub-section. The approach is consistent with the global trend of liberalising the process of admissibility of electronic evidence.
Chapters 14 and 15 attempt to answer two frequently asked questions regarding the status of computer printouts (Chapter 15) and how the court should treat admissibility of electronic evidence where there is no objection from an opponent (Chapter 14).
The third part of the book treats admissibility of specific forms of electronic evidence. Chapters 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, and 23 examine electronic mails (e-mails) short messages services (SMS), tape and video recordings, digital photographs, social media posts, automated teller machine (ATM), INEC card reader technology and books of accounts, respectively.
Part four concludes with a chapter on selected cases on admissibility of electronic evidence. The chapter consists of Nigerian cases and relevant decisions of courts outside Nigeria.
This book is further enriched with two scholarly articles written by two eminent jurists: Hon. Justice Mojeed Adekunle Owoade, JCA and Prof Taiwo Osipitan, SAN, FCIArb. Both papers were delivered at the 1st National Symposium on Proper Interpretation and Application of Section 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011 organised by the National Judicial Institute, Abuja, on 22nd May 2018. Professor Osipitan addressed: Admissibility of electronic evidence: The imperatives of oral evidence and certificate of authentication (Paper 1 at the symposium), while His Lordship, Hon. Justice Owoade considered: Admissibility of electronic evidence vis-à-vis the Cybercrime (Prevention and Prohibition Act) 2015 (Paper 2). The two articles are published as Appendices 1 and 2 respectively, with due permission sought and obtained from the distinguished learned authors. The United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on Electronic Commerce is published as Appendix 3.
In summary, let me humbly conclude that, in this book, I have been less concerned with providing a theoretical approach to section 84 of the Evidence Act, 2011 than with focusing on practical matters of how to ensure that authentic electronic documents are skillfully presented and duly accepted by the court in the overall interest of justice. In this, my experience as a trial court judge has been of tremendous advantage.”
WHAT EXPERTS SAID ABOUT THE BOOK
This book is expansive in scope, covering a wide range of issues relevant for a proper understanding of the law relating to electronic evidence. … [It] evinces Hon. Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye’s studious industry; it also advertises his redoubtable scholarship. It is fascinating both for its insightful acuity and the fecundity of its methodology. … As usual, his prose is arresting just as the breadth and diversity of the issues on electronic evidence are breath-taking! … His Lordship deserves a resounding applause for his thoughtfulness in serving this chiaroscuro of vast and rare learning!
Hon. Justice Chima Centus Nweze, Ph. D.; JSC; FCIArb
Supreme Court, Abuja, Nigeria.
“Judicialism has developed some body of case law on the admissibility and use of electronic records in judicial and other official proceedings. But there is scanty legal literature on the subject until the publication of this book which is the first in depth, comprehensive and authoritative study and statement on the subject.”
Honourable Justice Abdu Aboki
The Presiding Justice, Court of Appeal, Abuja Division
Hon. Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye, presents in lucid and straight forward style the knotty issues pertaining to the admissibility of electronic evidence in Nigerian courts and the need for judicial officers to be proactive and purposeful in interpreting the law relating thereto. … In this age of technological advancement worldwide, this book will indeed remain for a very long time to come, a reference point in the law of evidence, and a veritable tool in the hands of those entrusted to administer justice.
Hon. Justice Umaru Eri, OFR, CON, FDII, FNJI
Pioneer Chief Judge of Kogi State and former Administrator, National Judicial Institute of Nigeria
Hon. Justice Alaba Omolaye-Ajileye’s latest treatise is, undoubtedly the most recent and authoritative literature on this rather knotty area of our law. … Without any gainsaying, this sumptuous production by an accomplished jurist and eminent scholar is an indispensable companion to all legal practitioners, whether practicing at the Bar or adjudicating on the Bench.
Chief Wole Olanipekun, OFR, SAN, LL.D, FCIArb, FNIALS
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