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AFFIDAVIT WHICH CONTAINS ARGUMENT WILL BE STRUCK OUT

Dictum

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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CALL ORAL EVIDENCE WHERE CONTRADICTIONS IN AFFIDAVIT & COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT

The learned counsel to the Appellant had argued that if there are contradictions in the affidavit and counter affidavit the court should not believe one side and reject the other but, call oral evidence to clear the contradictions. Yes, this is the correct position of the law when the affidavits evidence are from both sides but contradictory.

– Uwa, JCA. GTB v. Innoson (2014) – CA/I/258/2011

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AN AFFIDAVIT MUST BE CONFINED TO FACTS ADMISSIBLE IN COURT

An affidavit meant for use in court stands as evidence and must as near as possible conform to oral evidence admissible in court. Sections 86 and 87 of the Evidence Act provide as follows:- “86. Every affidavit used in the court shall contain only a statement of facts and circumstances to which the witness deposes, either of his own personal knowledge or from information which he believes to be true. 87. An affidavit shall not contain extraneous matter, by way of objection, or prayer, or legal argument or conclusion.” … Looking at the counter-affidavit, paragraphs 12, 13 and 14 are fit for Counsel to urge upon the court by way of submission and, if there are facts and circumstances presented in support, the court may consider the submission attractive enough to dissuade it from granting the bail sought. Paragraph 18 contains a conclusion which ought to be left to the court to reach. Therefore paragraphs 12, 13, 14 and 18 are extraneous being in contravention of Section 87 of the Evidence Act. They ought to have been struck out. I accordingly strike them out. As for the further counter-affidavit, paragraphs 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 18 are also extraneous because they are fit for argument of Counsel to persuade the court. I strike them out as well.

— Uwaifo, JSC. Bamaiyi v State (SC 292/2000, Supreme Court, 6th April 2001)

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AVERMENTS IN AFFIDAVIT NOT CHALLENGED ARE DEEMED ADMITTED

These averments were not challenged or denied by the Appellant. No further affidavit was filed by the Appellant to deny that it ever agreed to submit to the Jurisdiction of the English Court. The Appellant did not challenge the Judgment by way of appeal nor did it deny the averments in the Counter Affidavits. I therefore agree with the submission of learned Senior Counsel for the Respondent that where facts in an affidavit are not challenged, they are deemed admitted.

— J.O. Bada, JCA. Conoil v Vitol (2011) – CA/A/213/2010

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AFFIDAVITS SHOULD NOT CONTAIN PRAYERS, LEGAL ARGUMENTS, AND CONCLUSIONS

I think the legal position is clear that in any affidavit used in the court, the law requires, as provided in Sections 86 and 87 of the Evidence Act, that it shall contain only a statement of facts and circumstances derived from the personal knowledge of the deponent or from information which he believes to be true, and shall not contain extraneous matter by way of objection, or prayer, or legal argument or conclusion. The problem is sometimes how to discern any particular extraneous matter. 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 a 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 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 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.

— Uwaifo, JSC. Bamaiyi v State (SC 292/2000, Supreme Court, 6th April 2001)

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AFFIDAVIT SHOULD CONFINE TO FACTS ONLY

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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CONTRADICTIONS IN APPLICANT’S OWN AFFIDAVIT

Based on the above findings, the applicant cannot be heard to contend that the court below did not exercise its discretion judicially and judiciously. With the inconsistent, dishonest and woolly averments in the affidavits of the applicant, no reasonable tribunal could have granted his application. The court below was even charitable to him to have gone into the merits of the application … The applicant having contradicted himself on very serious and important issues of fact in his application which bordered on dishonesty, should not have turned round to complain. He did not approach the court with clean hands and those averments disqualified him from the exercise of the court’s discretion in his favour.

— Ogwuegbu, JSC. Momah v VAB Petro (2000) – SC. 183/1995

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