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A PARTY IS FREE TO CROSS-EXAMINE ON AN AFFIDAVIT ADMITTED IN EVIDENCE

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I am in grave difficulty to agree with the submission of learned Senior Advocate. First, the first leg of his submission implies that an affidavit admitted as an exhibit is not open to cross-examination. This conclusion is drawn from his argument that the difference between an affidavit and a deposition which is a written testimony is that the latter is open to cross-examination. That is not my understanding of the law. A party is free to cross-examine on an affidavit admitted in evidence, particularly where there is a counter-affidavit. Where there is no counter-affidavit, then the deposition will be generally deemed to be correct. In the circumstances a blanket statement such as the one by Counsel, cannot be correct.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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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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ORAL EVIDENCE WILL BE ALLOWED FOR IRRECONCILABLE AFFIDAVITS

It is in exceptional cases for example where there are irreconcilable affidavits from both sides, that oral evidence will be allowed to be led in support of interlocutory application (see Falobi v. Falobi (1976) 9-10 S.C. 15, Eboh & Ors. v. Oki & Ors. (1974) 1 SC. 179), Uku & Ors. v. Okumagba & Ors. (1974) 3 SC. 35) unlike pleadings which will have to be supported by evidence at the trial as stated earlier.

– Kutigi JSC. Magnusson v. Koiki (1993) – SC.119/1991

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NO LAW PRESENTLY PROHIBITS A COUNSEL FROM DEPOSING TO AN AFFIDAVIT

The preliminary point raised by the Petitioner/Respondent that the motion of the 3 rd Respondent be dismissed, because the affidavit in support is sworn to by a legal practitioner in the law firm of counsel representing the 3 rd Respondent, is not sustainable. Our simple answer to this, is that there is no law that prohibits a counsel from deposing to an affidavit, if the counsel is conversant with the facts, or where the facts are within his personal knowledge. See the case of SODIPO VS LEMMINKAINEM (1986) 1 NWLR (PART 15) 220. In view of this, the motion of the 3 rd Respondent cannot be dismissed for the aforesaid reason.

— A. Osadebay, J. APC v INEC & Ors. (EPT/KN/GOV/01/2023, 20th Day of September, 2023)

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AFFIDAVIT PARAGRAPHS THAT OFFEND SECTION 115 EVIDENCE ACT 2011 WILL BE STRUCK OUT

The stipulations of Section 115 of the Evidence Act, 2011 is a reproduction of the provisions of Sections 86, 88 and 89 of the Evidence Act, 1990. It is rudimentary law that any paragraph of an affidavit which offends against the provisions of Section 115 of the Evidence Act may be struck out, but if it is not struck out, no weight should be attached to it: JOSIEN HOLDINGS LTD vs. LORNAMEAD LTD (supra), FMG vs. SANI (NO. 2) (1989) 4 NWLR (PT 117) 624 and EDU vs. COMM. FOR AGRIC. (2000) 12 NWLR (PT 681) 318. Indeed, it seems to be settled law that any paragraph of an affidavit which offends Section 115 of the Evidence Act ought not to be acted upon. It is liable to be discountenanced and struck out. See OSIAN vs. FLOUR MILLS (1968) 2 ALL NLR 13, EURO BATI CONCEPT S.A. vs. TROPICAL INDUSTRIAL CO. LTD (2001) 18 NWLR (PT 744) 165 and A-G ADAMAWA vs. A-G (FED) (2005) 18 NWLR (PT 958) 581 at 625 and 657-658.

— U.A. Ogakwu, JCA. Lagos State v NDIC (CA/L/124/2003(R), Court of Appeal, June 2nd 2020)

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INCONSISTENCY IN PARTY’S OWN AFFIDAVIT – COURT CANNOT HELP

In the case in hand, the contradictions or conflicts in affidavit evidence did not relate to the affidavit evidence filed by the appellant, on the one hand, and that filed by the respondent, on the other; rather, the contradiction arose only in respect of the appellant’s averments in his numerous affidavits. Therefore, the age-long principle of fielding witnesses to furnish oral evidence for the resolution of the contradictions between the two separate sets of evidence by the parties did not arise. Rather, it was self-evident from the judgment of the lower court that the contradictions alluded to were those that arose from the inconsistencies in the depositions in the appellant’s own affidavits. Clearly, where the appellant’s case is plagued by inconsistencies or contradictions, there is no obligation, in such circumstances, on the court seized of the matter to arrange for oral evidence to be called for the purposes of making or resolving the contradictions in the appellant’s case. The law frowns on a party who approbates in one breath and reprobates in another. But having said that, I must hurry to state that the onus is undoubtedly on the appellant confronted with its self-created contradictions to fully and properly explain away the contradictions to the satisfaction of the court. Failure to do so is bound to leave an indelible dent on the appellant’s case. It is not open to the court to enter into the arena of judicial conflict between the parties in order to resolve the contradictions within the appellant’s own affidavit evidence.

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

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AVERMENTS IN PLEADINGS VERSUS AVERMENTS IN AFFIDAVIT; ADDRESS OF COUNSEL NOT EVIDENCE

Averments of facts in pleadings must however be distinguished from facts deposed to in an affidavit in support of an application before a court. Whereas the former, unless admitted, constitute no evidence, the latter are by law evidence upon which a court of law may in appropriate cases act. The Court of Appeal, if I may say with the utmost respect, appeared to be under the erroneous impression that an averment in pleadings is synonymous with a deposition in an affidavit in support of an application. This is clearly not the case. So too, an address of Counsel in moving an application is not the evidence in support of such an application. The evidence is the deposition contained in the affidavit in support thereof.

— Iguh JSC. Magnusson v. Koiki (1993) – SC.119/1991

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