For Law Students

Understanding Circumstantial Evidence By Mohammed Ibrahim Abdul

Circumstancial Evidence

According to Black’s Law dictionary 9th edition at page 636, “circumstantial evidence is defined as evidence based on inference, not on personal knowledge or observation. It is also known as indirect evidence or oblique evidence.

It is evidence that is not rendered by eye witness testimony, in other words, circumstantial evidence strongly suggests a fact but does not exactly prove it.

Alexander M. Burril in his book “Treatise on the Nature, Principles and Rules of Circumstantial Evidence” Vol.4 1968 expressed that some circumstantial evidence are very strong, when you find a trout in the milk.

A person who is to give testimony on circumstantial evidence was not present at the scene of the crime committed nor present when the incident occurred, but relies on inference to connect it to the conclusion of the fact.

Circumstantial evidence is a very tricky concept, it seem to point very straight to one thing but if you shift your point of view a little, you may find it pointing in an equally uncompromising manner to something entirely different.

Circumstantial is used in civil case to establish or refute liability, while in criminal case is to establish guilt or innocent through reasoning.in the case HUSSANI VS THE STATE(2011)All FWLR PT 567 PG 747 C.A.The court of appeal Benin division presided over by Justice Amina Augie J.C.A.held:
“Facts to be inferred from circumstances may lead or fail to lead circumstantial evidence that it was the accused that committed the offence,although the onus is on the accused to rebut the circumstantial evidence led by the prosecution,such duty discharged by the accused on a preponderance probabilities”.

Evidence of some collateral fact from which the existence or non-existence of some fact in question may be inferred as a probable consequence, is termed circumstantial evidence.

Abdul is 200 level law student of Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria.

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