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ORIGINATING SUMMONS AND AFFIDAVITS

Dictum

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. Iyortyom and Ors[2014] LPELR-23000 (SC); Zakirai v. Muhammmad and Ors [2017] LPELR- 42349 (SC). As earlier stated, in deciding an interlocutory application, a Court should endeavor to limit itself to the dispositions made in the affidavit evidence before it. Thus, having regard to the nature of the originating process, and there being nothing but documentary evidence placed before the lower Court, the lower Court was in a good position to examine the entire affidavit evidence and the other documents placed before the trial Court in determining whether the ruling of the trial Court with regards to the preliminary objection was correct, Chief Agbaisi and Ors v Ebikorefe and Ors [1997] 4 SCNJ 147, 160; Agbahomovo and Ors v. Eduyegbe and Ors. [1999] 3 NWLR (pt. 594) 170; Jikantoro and Ors, v. Dantoro and Ors. [2004] 5 SCNJ 152, 177; Agbareh and Anor v. Mimrah and Ors, [2008] LPELR-43211 (SC).

— C.C. Nweze, JSC. Uzoho v NCP (SC.141/2007, Friday, May 13, 2022)

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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 IS NOT SUITABLE FOR CONTROVERSIAL CASES

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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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 on the part of the court, the defect is merely administrative and did not render the originating summons or proceedings consequent thereto a nullity.

— Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Saude v. Abdullahi (1989) – SC.197/1987

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ORIGINATING SUMMONS NOT SUITABLE FOR HOSTILE PROCEEDINGS

The merits of the originating summons lie in the fact that proceedings commenced thereby are very expeditiously dealt with as the action is almost invariably ready for hearing after the defendant had filed his counter-affidavit. Pleadings are not filed by the parties; witnesses are rarely examined, while affidavit evidence is used. Proceedings for which it is used therefore usually involve question of law rather than disputed facts. An originating summons should not be adopted if the proceedings are hostile proceedings.

– Adekeye, JSC. Elelu-Habeeb v. A.G Federation (2012)

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ABSENCE OF SIGNATURE OF THE JUDGE ON THE ORIGINATING SUMMONS – NON-COMPLIANCE

It is pertinent to observe that the competence of the court to exercise jurisdiction is not questioned on any other than the ground alleging want of signature of the Judge. Accordingly, for appellants to succeed they must show that the absence of the signature of a High Court Judge to an originating summons, is fatal to the validity of the proceedings initiated by it. Stricto sensu, there is no provision in the rules of court indicating the effect of noncompliance with its provisions.

— Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Saude v. Abdullahi (1989) – SC.197/1987

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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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