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AN AFFIDAVIT MUST BE CONFINED TO FACTS ADMISSIBLE IN COURT

Dictum

An affidavit meant for use in court stands as evidence and must as near as possible conform to oral evidence admissible in court. Sections 86 and 87 of the Evidence Act provide as follows:- “86. Every affidavit used in the court shall contain only a statement of facts and circumstances to which the witness deposes, either of his own personal knowledge or from information which he believes to be true. 87. An affidavit shall not contain extraneous matter, by way of objection, or prayer, or legal argument or conclusion.” … Looking at the counter-affidavit, paragraphs 12, 13 and 14 are fit for Counsel to urge upon the court by way of submission and, if there are facts and circumstances presented in support, the court may consider the submission attractive enough to dissuade it from granting the bail sought. Paragraph 18 contains a conclusion which ought to be left to the court to reach. Therefore paragraphs 12, 13, 14 and 18 are extraneous being in contravention of Section 87 of the Evidence Act. They ought to have been struck out. I accordingly strike them out. As for the further counter-affidavit, paragraphs 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 and 18 are also extraneous because they are fit for argument of Counsel to persuade the court. I strike them out as well.

— Uwaifo, JSC. Bamaiyi v State (SC 292/2000, Supreme Court, 6th April 2001)

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MOTION – WHAT AN AFFIDAVIT SHOULD NOT CONTAIN

A motion for a stay of execution is usually accompanied by an affidavit deposing to facts (not law, not speculation) which will persuade and incline the court to grant a stay … Paragraphs 14, 15 and 17 reproduced above offend all known rules relating to affidavits. One of those rules is that “an affidavit shall not contain extraneous matter, by way of objection, or prayer, or legal argument or conclusion”.

– Oputa, JSC. Military Governor v. Ojukwu (1986) – SC.241/1985

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ANY DEPOSITION NOT CHALLENGED IN AFFIDAVIT IS DEEMED ADMITTED

In the said suit leading to the instant appeal, there is the said counter-affidavit of the Respondent which is a part of the Records. It is now settled that affidavit evidence, constitutes evidence and any deposition therein not challenged, is deemed admitted. See the cases of Ajomale v. Yaduat & anor. (No.2) (1991) 5 NWLR (Pt.191) 226 @ 282-283; (1991) 5 SCNJ. 178 and Magnusson v. Koikoi (l993) 12 SCNJ 114.

— F. Ogbuagu JSC. Stephens Eng. Ltd. v. S.A. Yakubu (2009) – SC.153/2002

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

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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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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DOCUMENT ATTACHED TO AFFIDAVIT FORMS PART OF THE EVIDENCE OF DEPONENT

I have already held that a document attached to or exhibited with affidavit forms part of the evidence adduced by the deponent and is deemed to be properly before the court and to be used, once the court is satisfied that it is credible. Being already an evidence before the court (on oath), the formality of certification for admissibility (if it required certification) had been dispensed with. Of course, the reason for this is easy to deduce, the first being that affidavit evidence is already an admitted evidence before the court, unlike pleading which must be converted to evidence at the trial at which time issues of admissibility of an exhibit is decided The second point is that an exhibited copy of a document attached to an affidavit evidence must necessarily be a photocopy or secondary copy (except where the document was executed in several parts or counter parts and the deponent has many of the parts to exhibit in original forms). It is therefore unthinkable to expect the exhibited photocopy to be certified by the adverse party before the court can attach probative value to it.

– I.G. Mbaba, JCA. Ilorin East v. Alasinrin (2012) – CA/IL/38/2011

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AFFIDAVITS SHOULD NOT CONTAIN PRAYERS, LEGAL ARGUMENTS, AND CONCLUSIONS

I think the legal position is clear that in any affidavit used in the court, the law requires, as provided in Sections 86 and 87 of the Evidence Act, that it shall contain only a statement of facts and circumstances derived from the personal knowledge of the deponent or from information which he believes to be true, and shall not contain extraneous matter by way of objection, or prayer, or legal argument or conclusion. The problem is sometimes how to discern any particular extraneous matter. The test for doing this, in my view, is to examine each of the paragraphs deposed to in the affidavit to ascertain whether it is fit only as a submission which Counsel ought to urge upon the court. If it is, then it is likely to be either an objection or legal argument which ought to be pressed in oral argument; or it may be conclusion upon an issue which ought to be left to the discretion of the court either to make a finding or to reach a decision upon through its process of reasoning. But if it is in the form of evidence which a witness may be entitled to place before the court in his testimony on oath and is legally receivable to prove or disprove some fact in dispute, then it qualifies as a statement of facts and circumstances which may be deposed to in an affidavit. It therefore means that prayers, objections and legal arguments are matters that may be pressed by Counsel in court and are not fit for a witness either in oral testimony or in affidavit evidence; while conclusions should not be drawn by witnesses but left for the court to reach.

— Uwaifo, JSC. Bamaiyi v State (SC 292/2000, Supreme Court, 6th April 2001)

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