The Quality of a Child’s Evidence – Solomon Olukoya | GOVERNMEND

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A child’s testimony can be admitted by a court, because every sane “person” is a competent witness which implies that every sane person can give testimony, be a witness or give evidence in a court according to the law of evidence.

Although, the Nigerian law of evidence is silent as to who a child is. While the court is plagued as to what defines a child, the court has also sought for refuge from other statutes to tell who a child is and has also subjected the evidence or the testimony of a child on their understanding of the subject matter and not necessarily their age.

Meanwhile, the position of the law in some countries is quite different. For instance in Australia, children have long been seen as untrustworthy witnesses according to their law. It is assumed that children are prone to fantasies and that they are easily influenced, which is enough to make their testimony or evidence unreliable.

Among the stream of inconsistencies of a child’s testimony, some scholars would argue that a police officer or an attorney may use leading questions to elicit a statement from a child, causing the child to mistake what actually happened with the answer implied by the question.

More so, they added that children often have a misunderstanding of their responsibility, to tell the truth, and they may not know how essential their evidence is in a case or how critical it is to be accurate.

They are other arguments that children might act in evil ways that are beyond their years. They may agree to commit crimes against themselves, or their loved ones or they may fully manufacture crimes.

Some children are aware that the adult world views some issues in a serious and unusual light, which may lead them to make false allegations to suit their fantasies.

Therefore, these and many other reasons should be reflected by Nigerian lawmakers to deem it necessary for the Evidence Act to define who a child is and to reiterate the need for a court to mandate the requirement of corroboration to admit the evidence or testimonies of a child if the court must admit one.

Source: Solomon Oluwaseun Olukoya ✍️

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