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HE WHO ASSERTS A FACT HAS THE BURDEN TO PROVE THOSE FACTS

Dictum

The appellants in their petition desired the Tribunal to give judgment to them granting them the reliefs they claimed on the basis that the facts they assert in their petition exist. Therefore, they had the primary legal burden to prove the existence of those facts by virtue of S.131(1) of the Evidence Act 2011 which provides that “whoever desires any court to give judgment as to any legal right or liability dependent on the existence of facts which he asserts must” prove that those facts exists.”

— E.A. Agim, JSC. Oyetola v INEC & Ors. (2022) – SC/CV/508/2023

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FACTS IN DEFENSE CASE MAY STRENGTHEN CLAIMANT’S CASE, AND MAY BE RELIEF UPON

There is no doubt that in civil matters, the onus of proof shifts as the evidence preponderates. I need to say here that a Plaintiff, as the Respondent herein, must succeed on the strength of his own case and not on the weakness of the defence … The rule however changes if the Plaintiff finds in the evidence of the defence facts which strengthen his own case. Where the exception has not happened, the Plaintiff’s case must fail. See Ezekiel Oyinloye v. Babalola Esinkin & Ors. (1999) 5 SCNJ Pg. 278 at 288; Akande v. Adisa & Anor. (2012) 15 NWLR Pt. 1324 Pg. 538 SC; Omoregie v. Aiwerioghene (1994) 1 NWLR Pt. 318 at 488.

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JCA. First Bank v Oronsaye (2019) – CA/B/335/13

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THE APPELLANTS COULD NOT SUBSTANTIATE THE NARCOTICS FINE AGAINST THE 2ND RESPONDENT

What matters always in this kind of situation is that there must be proof of such a sentence. A criminal conviction and sentence must be proved by the CTC of the judgment of court delivered or any admissible way of proving same and the said judgment must reflect all the ingredients of a valid judgment to bind the parties concerned. This is unfortunately where the Appellants could not proceed further or substantiate the sentence of fine against the 2nd Respondent. At page 3228 (vol.5) of the record, PW1 and PW12, who gave evidence on the US proceedings did not dispute the fact that the 2nd Respondent was not at any time, charged before any court, caused to make a plea, convicted or sentenced for any offence. Similarly, at page 3464 ( vol.5) of the record, RW2, a US attorney and an associate of the 2nd Respondent, testified that the 2nd Respondent was never convicted or fined for any criminal offence in the United States. In fact, PW1 confirmed that the proceedings in Exhibit PA5 series are civil proceedings, while equally admitting that he never mentioned anything about charge in the proceedings and that he never had one. By virtue of section 135 of the Evidence Act, it is beyond peradventure that the proof of this allegation ought to be beyond reasonable doubt. Section 249 of the Evidence Act clearly prescribes the manner of discharging this proof, by the provision of “certificate purporting to be given under the hand of a police officer” from the US, “containing a copy of the sentence or order and the finger prints of the 2nd Respondent or photographs of the finger prints of the said 2nd Respondent, together with evidence that the finger prints of the person so convicted are those of the 2nd Respondent. See PML (NIG.) LTD. V. F.R.N. (2018) 7 NWLR (PT. 1619) 448 AT 493.

— Uwani Abba Aji JSC. Peter Obi & Anor. v. INEC & Ors. (SC/CV/937/2023, Thursday the 26th day of October 2023)

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PLAINTIFF HAS ONUS TO PROVE LEGAL CAPACITY WHERE CHALLENGED

I think the learned Justice, with respect, was in error when he said that “the onus is on a plaintiff to aver its legal capacity.” I think the correct statement of the law is that where the legal capacity of the plaintiff is challenged by the defendant, the onus is on the former to prove his legal capacity. I believe it is this error that led their Lordships astray. This burden to prove a matter can only be discharged by leading evidence, oral or documentary, in proof of same. The plaintiff was not given the opportunity to do so in this case, before her action was struck out. I think both courts below are wrong in the course taken by them.

— Ogundare, JSC. Bank of Baroda v. Iyalabani (2002) – SC.59/1998

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PLAINTIFF SUCCEEDS ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS CASE

It was the appellants herein as plaintiffs that desired that the trial Court grant the reliefs they claimed for on the basis that the facts they assert in their pleadings exist and it is their case that will fail if they fail to adduce evidence to prove the existence of those facts. They can only secure the favourable Judgment they desire on the strength of their case as established by legal evidence and not on the weakness or absence of a defence. Therefore, the legal burden to prove the said facts upon which the success of their case depends rests squarely on them by virtue of S.s 131, 132 and 133 (1) and (2) of the Evidence Act 2011.

– Agim JSC. APC v. Obaseki (2021)

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A PARTY IS FREE TO PROVE HIS CASE BY ANY MEANS HE DEEMS APPROPRIATE

“10. Defendant contended that the fact that the plaintiff did not’ testify himself or call witnesses to testify on his behalf amounts to a waiver of his claim as there is no substantiating evidence upon which judgment can be granted in his favour. Defendant urged the Court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim as it is unverified and unsubstantiated. With respect, this position canvassed by the defendant is not tenable at law. A plaintiff can prove his case either by relying on documents or by providing oral evidence or he could use a combination of both. A party is free to prove his case by any means he deems appropriate.”

— Ayika v Liberia (2012) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/09/12

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