Presumption either of law or of fact, is an independent piece of evidence which may or must be drawn from a given sets of facts until the contrary is proved. In general sense, it has cut a niche for itself as it maybe employed in both Civil and Criminal cases. This study will therefore examine the various incidences where presumptions must or may be made before there can be a conviction and how they have been affected by various judicial and statutory authorities.
The essay would also analyse various decisions of the court on different issues arising from both presumptions of law and presumptions of facts and their legal effects. The essay posits that, presumption is popular and incontrovertible under virtually all legal systems and that under the Nigerian legal system, the popularity and controvertibility of presumption did not abase. This is established owing to the influence and interpretation of the provisions of the Evidence Act and the Criminal and Penal Codes (on presumptions) by the judges.
A conclusion made as to the existence or non-existence of a fact that must be drawn from other evidence that is admitted and proven to be true. If certain facts are established, a judge or jury must assume another fact that the law recognizes as a logical conclusion from the proof that has been introduced. A presumption differs from an inference, which is a conclusion that a judge or jury may draw from the proof of certain facts if such facts would lead a reasonable person of average intelligence to reach the same conclusion.
Conclusive presumption is one in which the proof of certain facts makes the existence of the assumed fact beyond dispute. The presumption cannot be rebutted or contradicted by evidence to the contrary. For example, a child younger than seven is presumed to be incapable of committing a felony. There are very few conclusive presumptions because they are considered to be a substantive rule of law, as opposed to a rule of evidence.
The essay also focuses on the desirability of presumptions as a requirement in certain criminal and civil cases under the Nigerian Law of Evidence. Finally the analysis of the long essay examined the role of the court, and the juris prudential basis of the various statutory provisions in respect of presumptions in the Law of Evidence in Nigeria and in some other jurisdictions.
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