Compellability: A person who is a competent witness may for a variety of reason not be willing to testify. Allowing people choose when they want to testify in a trial may lead to serious miscarriage of justice. To guide against such a situation the law made it possible for a competent witness to be compelled against his own will to testify. The means by which a witness is compelled to testify in a trial is by service on him of what is subpoena ad testificandum and subpoena ducest tecum.

See also: Competency in Criminal Proceedings; Burden of proof; Hearsay Evidence; Character Evidence; Opinion Evidence
However, not all competent witnesses are compellable eg:

  1. President
  2. Vice President
  3. Governors
  4. Deputy Governor
    By Section 308 of the 1999 Constitution these persons enjoy constitutional immunity from civil and criminal processes during the currency of their tenue. None of them could be arrested or imprisoned during this period. Importantly by this section no court process requiring or compelling their appearance can be applied for or issued. The implication of this is that although they are competent, there is no means by which any of them can be made to attend court to give evidence.

Diplomats – Compellability

By Section 1(1) of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act, every foreign envoy and every consular officer, the members of their families of these persons, the members of their official or domestic staff, members of the family of their official staff shall be accorded immunity from suits and legal processes. See S.# of the Act. Similarly, High Commissioners from Common wealth countries, an official of some international organizations enjoy immunity from court processes. See Zabusky V. Israeli Aircraft Industries.

  1. Bankers: Section 177 of the Act
    A banker or officer of the bank is not compellable to produce any banker book, the content of which can be proved by S.97 EA or to appear as a witness to prove a matter, transactions and account clearly recorded, unless by the order of the court made for a special clause.
  2. Judges: See S. 188 & 189 EA, judges and magistrates are not compellable to answer any question as to their own conduct in court or as to anything which came to his knowledge in court, in such capacity. Although he may be examined as to other matters which occurred in his presence while he was acting. By S. 189 also a police officer is not compellable to say were he got any information as to the commission of any offence.
  3. Accused and co-accused and their spouses, the wife or husband of an accused person and of any person jointly charged with him and tried at the same time are all competent witnesses but are not compellable

Compellability. Compellability. Compellability

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