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CLAIMANT MUST RELY ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS OWN CASE AND SUPPORT FROM EVIDENCE OF DEFENDANT

Dictum

I bear in mind the well-established principle of law that in every civil action in which a declaration is sought from the Court, a claimant who seeks the declaratory relief must succeed on the strength of his own case as made out creditably in the evidence put forward by him in support of his case and not to merely rely on the weakness or even absence of the Defendant’s case. However, where the evidence of the Defendant supports the case of the claimant, he is perfectly entitled to rely on such evidence. See Nsirim v Nsirim (2002) FWLR (pt. 96) 433 @ p. 441.

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Anyi & Ors. v. Akande & Ors. (2017) – CA/L/334/2014

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THE COURTS LEAN AGAINST CALLING FRESH EVIDENCE ON APPEAL

Before concluding on the said prayer 7 it is helpful to call to mind the observations of Oputa JSC in Obasi v. Onwuka (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 61 ) 364, 372 in an application to call additional evidence on appeal: “To talk therefore of assessing the rightness or wrongness of the trial court’s verdict today by evidence that will be given tomorrow is to talk in blank prose. This is the reason why appellate courts are very reluctant to admit “fresh evidence”, “new evidence” or “additional evidence” on appeal except in circumstances where the matter arose ex improviso which no human ingenuity could foresee and it is in the interest of justice that evidence of that fact be led:- R v. Dora Harris (1927) 28 Cox 432. But by and large, at least in criminal cases (and the principle should also be the same in civil cases), the courts lean against hearing fresh evidence on appeal.”

— Oguntade, JSC. UBA v BTL (SC. 301/2003, 15 April 2005)

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CLAIMANT CAN RELY ON EVIDENCE OF THE DEFENDANT

The position of the law is that the Claimant is entitled to rely on the evidence put forward by the Defendant. See ODUTOLA V. SANYA (2008) ALL FWLR (PT. 400) 780 AT 793, PARAS. F – G (CA) where it was held that “… if the Defendant’s evidence supports that (the case) of the Plaintiff, he is entitled to rely on same to fortify his case. See Kodilinye v. Odu (1935) 2 WACA 336; Akinola v. Oluwo (1962) 1 All NLR 224″.

— E.N. Agbakoba, J. Igenoza v Unknown Defendant (2019) – NICN/ABJ/294/2014

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COURT WILL ACT ON UNCHALLENGED EVIDENCE

The law is well settled that where the evidence given by a party to any proceedings was not challenged by the opposite party who had the opportunity to do so, it is always open to the court seised of the case to act on such unchallenged evidence before it. See Isaac Omoregbe v. Daniel Lawani (1980) 3 – 4 SC 108 at 117, Odulaja v. Haddad (1973) 11 SC 357, Nigerian Maritime Services Ltd. v. Alhaji Bello Afolabi (1978) 2 SC 79 at 81, Abel Boshali v. Allied Commercial Exporters Ltd. (1961) 2 SCNLR 322, (1961) All NLR 917.

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

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SILENCE COULD AMOUNT TO ACCEPTANCE

It is a settled principle of law that where an adversary or a witness called by him testifies on a material fact in controversy in a case, the other party should, if he does not accept the witness’s testimony as true, cross-examine him on that fact, or at least show that the he does not accept the evidence as true, where, as in this case, he fails to do either, a court can take his silence as an acceptance that the party does not dispute the facts.

– Nnaemeka-Agu JSC. Amadi v. Nwosu (1992)

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PAIN SUFFERED NEED CANNOT BE ASSESSED BY MEDICAL EVIDENCE

As far as I am aware, there is no known means of medically assessing the intensity or otherwise of the pain a person is going through. When related to injury, medical evidence can only describe the nature of the injury but not the pain that goes with it. The more severe the injury the more likely the severity of the pain. Such pain can merely be imagined by a person who has seen when and how the injury occurred or who sees the nature of the injury later and was told how it happened including the medical doctor who may have treated the victim and noticed the agony he expressed by words or action or through groaning; or to whom the nature of the injury is described and the circumstances in which it occurred. For instance, a person who saw how any person’s limb, e.g. leg, was crushed by a heavy object would literally feel, pathologically, some reflexes which tend to register in him that the victim has undergone severe pain. When told about it he will likely imagine the severity of the pain. But the real nature of the pain can best be experienced or described by the victim.

– Uwaifo JSC. C & C Constr. v. Okhai (2003) – SC.8/1999

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TAKING EVIDENCE BY HIGH COURT INSTEAD OF MAGISTRATE COURT

It seems to me that if under the provisions of Order 23, rule 54 of the High Court Rules of Anambra State, 1988 a Magistrate or any officer of the court is permitted to take the evidence of a witness by way of commission, it cannot, with respect, be right to suggest that a High Court Judge, a judicial officer with much higher jurisdiction and status than a Magistrate or any other officer of the court is incompetent to take such evidence unless there exists any law which stipulates to the contrary. I know of no such law and my attention has not been drawn to any in this appeal. I am therefore of the view that the High Court was right by taking the evidence of the fourth defendant by way of commission as urged upon the court by learned Counsel for the appellant.

— Iguh JSC. Chime v Chime (2001) – SC 179/1991

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