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AFFIDAVIT SHOULD CONFINE TO FACTS ONLY

Dictum

Now, an affidavit meant for use in Court stands as evidence and must as near as possible conform to oral evidence that is admissible in Court. A deponent to an affidavit is therefore to confine himself to facts and circumstances. See BAMAIYI vs. THE STATE (2001) 4 SC (PT 1) 18 at 29. Often times it is only a thin line that separates facts or circumstances which are permissible for use in an affidavit, from depositions which are legal argument or prayer or conclusion, which are not permissible for use in an affidavit. Happily, the Supreme Court per Uwaifo, JSC in BAMAIYI vs. STATE (supra) at 32-33 laid down the test to be applied as follows: “The test for doing this, in my view, is to examine each of the paragraphs deposed to in the affidavit to ascertain whether it is fit only as submission which counsel ought to urge upon the Court. If it is, then it is likely to be either an objection or legal argument which ought to be pressed in oral argument; or it may be conclusion upon an issue which ought to be left to the discretion of the Court either to make a finding or to reach a 15 decision upon through its process of reasoning. But if it is in the form of evidence which a witness may be entitled to place before the Court in his testimony on oath and it is legally receivable to prove or disprove some fact in dispute, then it qualifies as a statement of facts and circumstances which may be deposed to in an affidavit. It therefore means that prayers, objections and legal arguments are matters that may be pressed by counsel in Court and are not fit for a witness either in oral testimony or in affidavit evidence, while conclusions should not be drawn by witnesses but left for the Court to reach.”

— U.A. Ogakwu, JCA. Lagos State v NDIC (CA/L/124/2003(R), Court of Appeal, June 2nd 2020)

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AFFIDAVIT WHICH CONTAINS ARGUMENT WILL BE STRUCK OUT

In this case, the first part of the said paragraph 7c [of Applicants’ affidavit], reads as follows – “The condemnation of the Appellant’s Counsel as unprofessional, disrespectful, dishonest, discourteous, without hearing him is contrary to Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and thus null and void. See the Supreme Court case of BELLO V. INEC & ANOR. (2010) LPELR-767 (SC), page 78, paras. D-F, the Court held that ‘A court has inherent power to set aside its judgment or order where it has become so obvious that it was fundamentally defective or given without jurisdiction. In such a case, the Judgment or Order given becomes null and void, thus liable to be set aside’.
Is this paragraph 7c in the Applicants’ Affidavit in the form of evidence? Obviously not; it is a legal argument or conclusion, which offends against Section 115 (2) of the Evidence Act 201, and it is, therefore, struck out.

— A.A. Augie, JCA. Elias v Ecobank (2016) – CA/L/873/2013

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FACTS NECESSARY FOR GRANTING PRAYERS SHOULD BE STATED IN AFFIDAVIT

An application or motion on the other hand is usually supported by an affidavit or affidavits with or without exhibits, depending on the nature of the application. It is necessary for an applicant to state fully in an affidavit or affidavit, the facts he intends to rely upon in seeking the prayers or order contained in the motion paper because except with the leave of court, he will not be heard in respect of facts not contained in the affidavit.

– Kutigi JSC. Magnusson v. Koiki (1993) – SC.119/1991

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ANY DEPOSITION IN AFFIDAVIT UNCHALLENGED IS DEEMED ADMITTED

IN H.S. ENGINEERING LTD VS. AS. YAKUBU LTD (2009) 175 LRCN 134, ratio 2, it was held – ‘It is now settled law that an affidavit evidence constitutes evidence and any deposition therein not challenged is deemed admitted.’ See also the unreported decision of this court in CA/IL/83/2010 (Adebiyi v. Umar), delivered on 31/1/2012, page 11.

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FAILURE TO FILE A FURTHER AFFIDAVIT IS ADMISSION OF THE COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT

I will therefore, pause here to state that it is now settled that failure to swear to a further-affidavit where there is a counter-affidavit which is unchallenged, it is deemed that the counter-affidavit, is admitted as being correct. In other words, where there is an unchallenged counter-affidavit evidence, the court is at liberty, to accept it as true and correct. See the cases of Jumbo Nwanganga & 5 ors. v. Military Governor of Imo State & 2 ors. (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt.59) 182 @ 193 C.A. and Attorney-General orPlateau State v. Attorney-General of Nassarawa State (2005) 4 SCNJ 120 @ 175; (2005) 4 S.C. 55.

— F. Ogbuagu JSC. Stephens Eng. Ltd. v. S.A. Yakubu (2009) – SC.153/2002

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MOTION – WHAT AN AFFIDAVIT SHOULD NOT CONTAIN

A motion for a stay of execution is usually accompanied by an affidavit deposing to facts (not law, not speculation) which will persuade and incline the court to grant a stay … Paragraphs 14, 15 and 17 reproduced above offend all known rules relating to affidavits. One of those rules is that “an affidavit shall not contain extraneous matter, by way of objection, or prayer, or legal argument or conclusion”.

– Oputa, JSC. Military Governor v. Ojukwu (1986) – SC.241/1985

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NOT ALL UNCONTRADICTED AVERMENTS WILL BE ACCEPTED BY THE COURT

✓ In B.B.B. Manufacturing Co. Ltd. Vs A.C-Bc Ltd (2004} 2 NWLR (Pt. 858) 527@ 550551 F-A, per Pats-Acholonu, JSC as follows: although it is the general rule that uncontradicted evidence from which reasonable people can draw but one conclusion may not ordinarily be rejected by the court but must be accepted as true; it is also true to say that the court is not in all the circumstances bound to accept as true testimony an evidence that is uncontradicted where it is willfully or corruptly false, incredible, improbable or sharply falls below the standard expected in a particular case.

✓ It was held in R-Benkay (Nig) Ltd. v. Cadbury (Nig) Pie. (2012) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1306) 596 @ 624 C – per Peter-Odili, JSC, inter alia, as follows: “… it is not fl fait accompli that once there are averments in an affidavit which are not controverted the result would be a favourable disposition to the position of the party who had proffered the disposition. This is so because all averments must go under the surgical knife of evaluation which is done by the court as a matter of duty to see its acceptability as happened in this case. See also: Gonzee (Nig) Ltd Vs NERDC (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 943) 634@ 650 D, cited and relied upon.

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