During Trial in a case, the Claimant’s Counsel through its witness (PW1), confirmed that certain Exhibits such as the statement of account it sought to be relied on are copies of what they sent to the Defendants in some of Claimant’s correspondence because the statement of account was extracted from the records of the bank.

It is pertinent to state that bank statements are a list of all transactions for a holder of a bank account over a set period which includes deposits, charges, withdrawals, as well as the beginning and ending balance for the period, along with any interest earned. They are essential resources for account holders to track their funds, review spending habits, and flag fraudulent transactions or potential payment errors by the banking institution. This is generated monthly or upon request by the individual or an order of the Court.

Section 97 of the Evidence Act also provides for proof of a bank’s records and such records may be set out in media which may include ledgers, daybooks, cashbooks, and account books used in the ordinary business of a bank.

There is a presumption of law that a document emanating from an official source is correct when there is no affidavit evidence to show otherwise. This is because a document that was typed using a computer is not a computer-generated document. See, A.G. Fed. v. Anuebunwa (2022) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1850) 211.
Thus, the position of the law is that bank statements are not computer-generated evidence and do not require compliance with Section 84 (2) of the Evidence Act to be admissible in evidence. See, Bua Int’l Ltd v. Saima (Nig) Ltd (2023) LPELR-59533 (CA).

However, a computer-generated statement of an account is a copy of a bank record, and since they are not original, the provisions of Section 97(2)(e) of the Evidence Act are to be complied with. See, F.R.N v. Fani-Kayode (2010) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1214) 481 at 498, paras. G-H).

It is trite that it is the algorithm or data imputed by a bank officer into the bank’s database that generates the various information on the computer statement of account of a customer.
Therefore, an account statement of a bank is a computer-generated document that has to be certified by the officer to ensure that no one illegally or without authorization tampered with the source data as officially imputed in the computer. The certification must include that the computer was operational or in good working order when the document was generated. The Court of Appeal in I.G.P. v. Bello (2023) 1 NWLR (Pt. 1865) 265, Per Bolaji-Yusuf J.C.A held;

“Section 84(1) of the Evidence Act provides that a statement contained in a document produced by a computer shall be admissible as evidence of any fact stated in it of which direct oral evidence would be admissible, if it is shown that the conditions in subsection of that section are satisfied in relation to the statement and computer in question. Section 84(5)(a) provides that information shall be taken to be supplied to a computer if it is supplied to it in any appropriate form and whether it is supplied directly or (with or without human intervention) by means of any appropriate equipment. Section 84(5)(c) provides that a document shall be taken to have been produced by a computer whether it was produced by it directly or (with or without human intervention) by means of any appropriate equipment. Section 258 of the Evidence Act defines a “computer” as any device for storing and processing information, and any reference to information being derived from other information is a reference to its being derived from it by calculation, comparison or any other process.”

Thus, a glossary look at sections 84(1), (5)(a) and 258 of the Evidence Act, bank printed statements of accounts, no doubt qualifies as electronically generated documents.

LEGAL TIPS is anchored by Ms CIA Ofoegbunam, an Abuja-based lawyer who is passionate about legal practice. LEGAL TIPS offers quick hints on substantive law, as well as rules of practice and procedure, and serves as a handy reference guide to lawyers, especially in court. Published on a weekly basis, the LEGAL TIPS Series is CIA’s modest contribution to legal development in Nigeria.

19 thoughts on “Legal Tip with CIA Series 85: Statement of Account

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