JUDICIAL NOTICE

     The general rule is that facts that are in issue or relevant to the issue in a given case must be proved by evidence. However, a court may take judicial notice of a fact even though it has not been established by evidence.
S. 122 EA
(1) provides that any fact which the court shall take judicial notice of under that section need not be proved. 

(2) deals with facts which the courts shall take judicial notice of: a. all laws or enactments and any subsidiary legislation made under them having the force of law now or previously in force in any part of Nigeria. 
     In Amata v Omofuna, the appellant’s contention was that the respondent didn’t plead the Statute of Limitations which the trial court relied on in its judgement. The appellate court held that once it can be deduced from the pleadings or evidence that a law (whether extant or extinct) is applicable, the judge would take judicial notice and apply it suo motu to the case at hand. 
     In Oluwadare v Adekunle, the appellate court held that the trial court was entitled to take judicial notice of the Customary Courts Law of Ondo including the subsidiary legislation thereunder.  

(3)provides that in all cases in subsection (2) and also on all matters of public history, literature, science or art, the court may resort for its aid to appropriate books or documents of reference. 

(4): If the court is called upon by any person to take judicial notice of any fact it may refuse to do so unless and until such person produces any such book or document, as it may consider necessary to enable it to do so.  
     Ultimately, S. 17 EA provides that a custom may be judicially noticed when it has been adjudicated upon once by a superior court of record. This means that the custom in question need not have been adjudicated upon many times before it can be deemed judicially noticed. Thus, in Cole v Akinyele, the court relying on a similar provision in the Old Evidence Act [S. 14(2)] accepted the Yoruba customary law concept of acknowledging paternity as judicially noticed. 
     The court in Olabanji v Omokewu has sounded a note of warning that since the section uses ‘may’, it means that the court is not bound to accept one judicial application of a custom as sufficient in every case to ground judicial notice.
      The courts have extended the meaning of judicial notice to some facts which the courts may take notice of without conducting any inquiry. These facts are too notorious to be subject of serious dispute. In Huth v Huth, for example, the court noted that a post card is an enclosed document which can be read by anyone in the course of post. It has also been noted that two weeks is too short a period of human gestation and that the normal period of gestation is about nine months (R v Luffe; Preston-Jones v Preston-Jones). Also, in Yinusa Bakare v Rasaki Ishola, the court took judicial notice of habits of people in that where two people utter words during an altercation, the court may hold such as mere words which no one takes seriously. In Rotimi Williams v West African Pilot, the court took judicial notice of the defendant as a national daily with immense influence on its readers every day. In Akulaku v Yonge, the court took judicial notice of a Tiv custom allowing a man to inherit his younger brother’s wife and land.

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