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ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CONTROVERSIAL CASES

Dictum

The principle has become trite that the originating summons procedure is not for causes in which facts remain hostile and in conflict. The procedure is ideal for the determination of short and straight forward questions of construction and interpretation of documents or statutes. It is never the applicable procedure in controversial cases where the facts on which the court is invited to construe or interpret the document or legislation in relation to remain violently in conflict. See also Famfa Oil Limited v. AG of the Federation & anor [2003] LPELR-1239(SC); [2003] 18 NWLR (Pt. 852) 453.

Olatunji v UBER (2018) – NICN/LA/546/2017

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS AND AFFIDAVITS

In this appeal, the main action was commenced by way of Originating Summons. Under this procedure, pleadings are not filed nor witnesses called. It is, generally, heard on affidavit evidence deposed to in support and in opposition, with documents exhibited, Famfa Oil Ltd v. Attorney-General, Federation and Anor [2003] LPELR-1239 (SC); JEV and Anor v....

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS CANNOT BE USED WHERE FACTS ARE CONTENTIOUS

OBASANYA v. BABAFEMI (2000) 23 WRN (Pt.689) 1 at 17 stated again as follows: “Where the facts are controversial or contentious and cannot be ascertained without evidence being adduced, originating summons should not be appropriately used; and if used it should be discountenanced. See N. B. N. & ANOR VS. ALAKIJA (1978) 2 LRN 78 see also DOHERTY VS. DOHERTY (1964) N.M.L.R. 144, UNILAG VS. AIGORO (1991) 3 NWLR (Pt.179) 367; ANATOGU Vs. ANATOGU (1997) 9. The provision of Order 3 Rule 2 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure) Rules 1994 (supra) quite clearly provides that the originating summons procedure is only suitable for cases where the sole or principle question is one of construction of document. In the construction of such documents, law or instruments no evidence is required or adduced. Facts constituting an allegation of fraud by their very nature are controversial.”

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WHERE INTERPRETATION IS NEEDED ORIGINATING SUMMONS IS APPROPRIATE

KEYAMO VS. HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY, LAGOS STATE (2000) 11 W.R.N. 29 at 40, (2000) 12 NWLR (Pt. 680) 796 at 213 stated as follows: “I must state that the correct position of the law is that originating summons is used to commence an action where the issue involved is one of the construction of a written law or of any instrument made under a written law, or of any deed, contract or other document or some other question of law or where there is unlikely to be any substantial dispute of fact. This is the provision of Order 3 Rule 2 (2) of the Lagos State Civil Procedure (supra)”

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS NEEDED WHERE NO DISPUTE OF FACT

NATIONAL BANK OF NIG VS. ALAKIJA & ANOR (1978) 2 L.R.N. 78, I had cause to review the whole history of originating summons and then held: Originating Summons should only be applicable in such circumstances as where there is no dispute on question of fact or (even) the likelihood of such dispute. “[page 86 ibid) originating summons is reserved for issues like the determination of short question of construction and not matters of such controversy that the justice of the case would demand the settling of Pleadings.”

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ABSENCE OF SIGNATURE OF A JUDGE IN AN ORIGINATING SUMMONS

Although I do not agree with learned counsel to the respondents in his submission that absence of the signature of a Judge in an originating summons is a mere technicality, I think it is correct to say that the defect did not render the originating summons a nullity. Where the non-compliance with the rules is...

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COMMENCING BY ORIGINATING SUMMONS OR BY WRIT OF SUMMONS

As demonstrated above, Originating Summons is, particularly, employed in commencing a suit when what is in dispute is the mere construction of documents or interpretation of law in respect of which pleadings are unnecessary or where there is no real dispute as to facts between the parties, G. F. Harwood, Odger’s Principles of Pleadings and...

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