a. Communication in Marriage:
Section 182 (3) of the EA has excluded a husband and wife from being compellable witnesses where any of them is a party to a case with regard to communication made during their marriage without the consent of the husband or wife as the case may be. The rationale is that their communication is deemed a privileged communication. However, this does not apply to the following instances;
i. Where the Suit is between the husband and wife.
ii. Where the proceeding in which the married person is prosecuted under any of the offences listed in section 181(2) of the EA.
iii. Where the proceeding relates to section 36 of the Criminal Code with an offence against the property of the wife or husband.
iv. Where the proceeding relates to offences dealing with the husband or wife inflicting violence on his or her wife or husband.
b. Professional Communication:
This comes to play when communication is made between a legal practitioner and a client and the person is making such communication in his professional capacity or for the purpose of giving legal advice. This privilege is in two perspectives:
i. Legal practitioners are not permitted except with the express consent of their clients, to disclose any communication disclosed to them in the course of employment or any document that has been made available to them by their client.
ii. Section 195 of EA provides that a client cannot be compelled to disclose any communication between him and his legal practitioner unless he is a witness in the case where he may be compelled to disclose such communication as the Court may deem necessary.
This privileged communication does not cover communication made in furtherance of an illegal purpose or communication made to facilitate a crime.
c. Privilege Against Self-incrimination:
Section 183 of the EA provides that, no one is obligated to answer any question asked if such an answer in the opinion of the Court has the tendency of exposing the witness or his or her spouse to any criminal charge or penalty or forfeiture. This has been emphasized by the constitutional provision of section 36(11) of the Nigerian Constitution which provides that, a person who is tried for a criminal offence shall not be compelled to give evidence at the trial. This translates to the right to remain silent.
However, this privilege is not applicable in the following cases:
i. a person charged and being a witness may be asked any question in cross-examination notwithstanding that it would tend to incriminate him as to the offence charged;
ii. where answering questions would tend to expose an individual only to some kind of civil liability or establish that the person owes a debt;
iii. There is no privilege for a witness who is giving evidence under section 458 of the Criminal Procedure Act in an inquiry directed by the Attorney General of the Federation or State.
d. Production of Title Deeds by a Witness, not a Party:
A witness who is not a party to a suit may not be compelled to produce his title deeds or any document creating a charge to any property, the production of which could incriminate him, according to Section 184 of the Act. Section 185 of the Act broadens the privilege to include situations in which the deed is in the possession of someone else.
e. Statements made without Prejudice:
Section 26 of the EA provides that, no admission is relevant if it is made under an express condition that evidence of it is not to be given, or in circumstances in which the Court infers that the parties agreed that the evidence of it should not be given. This is done to promote amicable means of settlement of disputes between aggrieved parties without the interference of the Court through any agreed alternative dispute resolution. This also goes to guarantee that, whatever is said during a settlement proceeding cannot be admitted in Court. This privilege applies where it is clear from the circumstances of the case that the intention of the parties is to settle pending litigation.
f. Diplomatic Immunity:
Section 1 of the Diplomatic Immunities and Privileges Act 1962 provides immunity from Suit and legal process in respect of the following persons.
i. Foreign envoy and consular officer.
ii. Members of the families of those persons.
iii. Members of their official or domestic staff.
iv. Members of the families of their official staff.