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Nigeria: Bill Making Electronic Materials Admissible in Court Proposed

(July 15, 2009) It was reported on July 13, 2009, that the Nigerian senate is considering adoption of the Bill for an Act to Amend the Evidence Act, which would make electronic and computer-generated materials admissible in court. (Sufuyan Ojeifo, Text Messages to Become Admissible in Court, THISDAY, July 13, 2009, available at

The bill amends the section of the Evidence Act on the interpretation of the term “bankers' books” to include “electronic records, writings, and recordings and all other books and documents.” It expands the provision on the interpretation of the term “document” to include “electronic documents or records.” It adds under the interpretation section of the Act the language “data means representations, in any form, of information or concepts” as well as the term “duplicate,” which it defines as:

a counterpart produced by the same impression as the original, or from the same matrix, or by means of photography, including enlargements and miniatures, or by mechanical or electronic re-recording, or by chemical reproduction, or by other equivalent techniques which accurately reproduce the original. (Id.)

According to Senator Sola Akinyede, who sponsored the bill, the Evidence Act of Nigeria, which was enacted in 1945 and remains unchanged save for minor amendments in 1948, 1958 and 1991, does not anymore stand the test of time. Akinyede explained that the current Nigerian Evidence Act does not recognize, with the exception of records produced by stenography and photocopiers, any document produced by technology developed since its enactment in 1945. According to Akinyede, the purpose of the bill is to make the Evidence Act conform to modern and global best practices. (Id.; Evidence Act, Cap. E14, 6 THE LAWS OF THE FEDERATION OF NIGERIA (1945) (LexisNexis Butterworths, rev. ed. Mar. 2006) (official source).)

The bill has gone through the first reading on the Senate floor, but has yet to be put on the schedule for debate on its general principles (second reading). (Ojeifo, supra.)