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IT IS THE PLAINTIFF THAT DICTATES TO THE COURT WHAT RELIEF HE WANTS, AND THE COURT DETERMINES

Dictum

I have always believed that it is the prerogative of a Plaintiff to dictate the reliefs he or she is seeking from the Court. It is the Court that also has the power to award to a Plaintiff what he believed is justifiable based on the evidence before it and the law. Why I am saying this is based on the submission of the learned counsel representing the Appellant where in he seriously argued that the claim of the Respondent should come under special damages. This I believe does not lie in his mouth. The Court and the Court alone has the vires to determine what a litigant is entitle to. All the litigant need do is to ask. In this case the Respondent asked for general damages and adduced evidence on the pleaded facts in that direction. The Court in his wisdom awarded the relief sought.

— M.N. Oniyangi JCA. Presentation National High School & Ors. v. Ogbebor (CA/B/105/2012, 17 MAY 2018)

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APPLICANT CAN ASK FOR ALTERNATIVE RELIEFS BY SEEKING EXTENSION OF TIME TO APPEAL

The first issue is whether this application constitutes an abuse of Court process? I do not think that the present application constitutes an abuse of Court process. It is true that the applicant had earlier in its reply brief contended that the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th 5th, 7th and 8th Grounds of Appeal in its amended notice of appeal are grounds of law. However, the applicant in this application is asking for alternative, in case the said grounds of appeal are not grounds of law alone. The applicant is by law permitted to ask for alternative relief by seeking for extension of time to appeal. In Xtoudos Services Nigeria Ltd and Anor v. Tarsei (W.A) Ltd and Anor (2006) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1003) 533 at 555 paras F-G, which was cited and relied upon by learned counsel for the appellant/applicant, this Court had this to say:- “It needs to be stressed that there is nothing wrong for a party in an action to include in his pleading two or more inconsistent sets of material facts and claim reliefs there under in the alternative. It is proper to do so… But once one of them is granted, the other cannot be granted…Thus where there is a claim in the alternative, the trial Court will first consider whether or not the principal or main claim ought to have succeeded. It is only after the Court may have found that it could not for any reason grant the principal claim that it would only consider the alternative claim. This is settled law.” See S.C.E.I v. Odunewo and Anor (1965) 2 ALL NLR 135; Metal Construction (W.A) Ltd. v. Chief Aboderin (1998) 6 SCNJ 161 at 170, (1998) 8 NWLR (Pt. 563) 538; Agidigbi v. Agidigbi and Ors (1996) 6 NWLR (Pt. 454) 303; Merchantile Bank of Nig. Ltd v. Adalma Tanker and Bunkering Services Ltd (1990) 5 NWLR (Pt. 153) 747; Gaji and Ors v. Paye (2003) 5 SCNJ 20 (2003) 8 NWLR (Pt. 823) 583. I am of the firm view that, since this application is merely asking for alternative, it does not constitute an abuse of the Court’s process. I therefore do not think it is necessary to go into the definition of the phrase “abuse of Court process”, since this application is not meant to insult any Court process nor is it meant to annoy the applicant’s opponents. The application is made to regularize an existing process.

— P.A. Galinje JSC. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Anor. (SC.535/2013(R), 23 June 2017)

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DECLARATORY RELIEFS ARE MADE ONLY ON EVIDENCE AND NOT BY ADMISSION OF THE OTHER PARTY

The Law on the requirement to plead and prove his claim for declaratory reliefs on the evidence called by him without relying on the evidence called by the Defendant is well settled. The burden of proof on the Plaintiff in establishing declaratory reliefs to the satisfaction of the Court is quite heavy in the sense that such declaratory reliefs are not granted even on admission by the Defendants, where Plaintiff fails to establish his entitlement to the declaration by his own evidence … it has always been my experience and I believe it to be a long standing that the Court does not make declarations of rights either on admissions or in default of pleadings but only if the Court is satisfied by evidence.

— B.B. Kanyip, J. Olatunji v UBER (2018) – NICN/LA/546/2017

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PRAYERS NOT OPPOSED IN A MOTION WILL MOVE IN SMOOTHLY

Let me say in this ruling that it is only necessary to consider the facts A deposed to by parties in their affidavit evidence and counsel’s argument with respect to only prayer 7 as respondent’s counsel is not opposing prayers 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8. Appellant/applicant’s counsel had also indicated that he was not pursuing prayers 5, 9 and 10.

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

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OMNIBUS RELIEF IS WORTHLESS

In Oye v. Gov. of Oyo State (1993) NWLR Pt. 306, 437 at 452, the Court held thus: “The omnibus relief ‘such further or other orders as this honorable Court may deem necessary to make in the circumstances’ does not constitute a specific or known prayer and is therefore worthless as it is not the business of the Court to tell an applicant what relief he may contemplate but not seek.”

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DECLARATORY RELIEF CANNOT BE GRANTED WITHOUT EVIDENCE

A declaratory relief implies a declaration by the Court of the action, cause or right of the parties before the Court. It is the law that declaratory reliefs are not granted as a matter of course and on a platter of gold. They are only granted when credible evidence has been led by a person seeking the declaratory relief. See Anyanru v. Mandilas Ltd (2007) 4 SCNJ and Chukwumah v. S.P.D.C (Nigeria) Ltd., (1993) LPELR – 864 SC. It invariably therefore means that a declaratory relief cannot be granted in the absence of any evidence or where the evidence led is unsatisfactory. A declaratory relief such as what was sought by the plaintiff is discretionary. If a substantial question exists to which one person has a real interest to raise, and the other to oppose, then the Court has a discretion to resolve it by a declaration which it will exercise if there is a good reason for so doing. It is the form of judgment which should be granted only when the Court is of the opinion that the party seeking it is, when all facts are taken into consideration, fully entitled to the exercise of the Court’s discretion. The power of the Court to make a declaration where it is a question of defining rights of two parties is only limited by its own discretion. The discretion should of course be exercised judicially, but it seems to me that the discretion is very wide. See Ibeneweka v. Egbuna and Ors., (1964) 1 WLR 210.

— S.J. Adah, JCA. Luck Guard v. Adariku (2022) – CA/A/1061/2020

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