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BURDEN OF PROOF WHERE PARTY ALLEGES THE NEGATIVE

Dictum

DASHE & ORS V DURVEN & ORS (2019) LPELR-48887 where my learned brother Ugo, JCA held: “While it is true that the burden of proof is generally on the person who substantially asserts the positive of an issue, and not on the person who makes a negative assertion, there is a caveat to that principle to the effect that where a negative assertion forms an essential part of a plaintiff’s case (as it evidently is in the case of the appellants) the burden of proof of such allegation rests on him. The law on this point was lucidly stated by Bowen L.J. in Abrath v. N.E. Railway. Co 11 QBD 440 at 457 when he said that: “Now in an action for malicious prosecution, the plaintiff has the burden throughout of establishing that the circumstances of the prosecution were such that the Judge can see no reasonable and probable cause for instituting it. In one sense that is the assertion of a negative, and we have been pressed with the proposition that, when a negative is made out, the onus of proof shifts. That is not so. If the assertion of a negative is an essential part of a plaintiff’s case, the proof of the assertion still rests upon the plaintiff. The terms’ negative and affirmative’ are after all, relative, and not absolute.” ?See also Phipson on Evidence, 15th Edition, Paragraph 4.03 at page 56; The Article Burden and Standard of Proof, by Justice Niki Tobi in Chief Afe Babalola’s Law & Practice of Evidence in Nigeria, and Muraina & Ors v. Omolade & Ors (1968) 359 @ 362. See also Sections 131, ?132 and 133 of the Evidence Act 2010 stating that whoever desires any Court to give judgment as to any legal right or liability dependent on the existence of facts which he asserts shall prove that those facts exist; that the burden of proof in a suit or proceeding lies on that person who would fail if no evidence at all were given, and that in civil cases, the burden of first proving existence or non-existence offact lies is on the party against whom judgment would be given if no evidence were produced on either side.”

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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BURDEN OF PROOF ON HE WHO WILL FAIL

In civil cases the burden of first proving the existence or non-existence of a fact lies on the party against whom the judgment of the court would be given if no evidence were produced on either side, regard being had to any presumption that may arise on the pleadings.

– Niki Tobi, JSC. Calabar CC v. Ekpo (2008)

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PROOF REQUIRED UNDER EVIDENCE ACT NOT APPLICABLE TO ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS

Proof as required under the Evidence Act is not applicable in arbitral proceedings as provided for in Section 256(1)(a) of the Act which says that: “This Act shall apply to all judicial proceedings in or before any Court established in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but it shall not apply to – (a) Proceeding be an arbitrator.” Absence of evidence in proof of facts submitted to an arbitrator, required under the Evidence Act, is not a ground for setting aside an arbitral award.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

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HE WHO ALLEGES MUST PROVE

Para. 61: “It is trite law that he who alleges bears the burden of making out a prima facie case in support of his averments, the court in its consideration reiterated the cardinal principle of law that “he who alleges must prove”. Therefore, where a party asserts 26 a fact, he must produce evidence to substantiate the claim. The Applicant has not been able to establish that he was treated differently from other members in similar situation with him. In the absence of evidence to support a different treatment in similar situations, the Applicant’s claim of violation of equality before the law and freedom from discrimination is hereby dismissed.”

— Boley v Liberia & Ors. (2019) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/24/19

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PLAINTIFF MUST RELY ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS CASE AND NOT WEAKNESS OF DEFENDANT’S CASE

The onus in such cases lies on the plaintiff to satisfy the court that he is entitled on the evidence brought by him to the declaration of title claimed. In this regard, the plaintiff must rely on the strength of his own case and not on the weakness of the defendant’s case. If this onus is not discharged, the weakness of the defendant’s case will not help him and the proper judgment will be for the defendant. See Kodilinye v. Mbanefo Odu (1935) 2 WACA 336 at 337 and Frempong v. Brempong (1952) 14WACA 13. Any evidence, however, adduced by the defendant which, to any extent is favourable to the plaintiff’s case will undoubtedly go to strengthen the case for the plaintiff. See Josiah Akinola and Another v. Oluwo and Others (1962) 1SCNLR 352, (1962) 1 All NLR 224 at 225, Oduaran v. Asarah (1972) 1 All NLR (Pt.2) 137, Idundun and Others v. Daniel Okumagba (1976) 9 – 10 SC 227.

— Iguh, JSC. Olohunde v. Adeyoju (2000) – SC.15/1995

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WHAT IS PROOF IN LAW

Proof in law, is a process by which the existence of facts is established to the satisfaction of the Court, see Section 121 of the Evidence Act, 2011; Olufosoye v. Fakorede (1993) 1 NWLR (Pt. 272) 747; Awuse v. Odili (2005) 16 NWLR (Pt. 952) 416; Salau v. State (2019) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1699) 399. (Pt. 1372) 474; APC v. Karfi (2018) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1616) 479; Ojobo v Moro (2019) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1700) 166.

— O.F. Ogbuinya JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc v. Longterm Global Cap. Ltd. & Ors. (September 20 2021, ca/l/1093/2017)

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A PLAINTIFF WHO CANNOT DISCHARGE BURDEN OF PROOF MUST LOSE

Para. 28: “This rule, that proof rests on he who asserts the affirmative and not on he who denies, “is an ancient rule founded on consideration of common sense and should not be departed from without strong reasons”, according to Lord Maugham in the case of Constantine Line v. Imperial Smelting Corporation (1942) A.C. 154 at p. 174. In assuming the burden of proof, it means that if at the end of the day the plaintiff has not produced evidence to discharge the burden on him he must lose the decision on the particular issue. However, being a civil matter the burden that the plaintiff assumes is one of a proof by preponderance of probability or sometimes called reasonable probability.”

— Saidykhan v GAMBIA (2010) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/08/10

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