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PRAYERS NOT OPPOSED IN A MOTION WILL MOVE IN SMOOTHLY

Dictum

Let me say in this ruling that it is only necessary to consider the facts A deposed to by parties in their affidavit evidence and counsel’s argument with respect to only prayer 7 as respondent’s counsel is not opposing prayers 1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 8. Appellant/applicant’s counsel had also indicated that he was not pursuing prayers 5, 9 and 10.

— Oguntade, JSC. UBA v BTL (SC. 301/2003, 15 April 2005)

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CONFLICTING FACTS CAN BE PLEADED WHERE ALTERNATIVE RELIEFS ARE SOUGHT

As rightly submitted by the Petitioners, the reliefs in this Petition, which I have reproduced at the beginning of this judgment, are undoubtedly sought in the alternative. The settled law is that reliefs can be sought in the alternative and where so sought by a party, he is at liberty to plead conflicting facts in line with the alternative reliefs he has sought. In ADIGHIJE V NWAOGU & ORS (2010) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1209) 419 at 545, paras. E G; (2010) LPELR-4941(CA) at pages 14 – 16, paras. E G, this Court, per Ogunwumiju, JCA (as he then was, now JSC), held that: “…in civil litigation and indeed in election matters, a party can make two seemingly contradictory pleadings leading to two different heads of claim. That is why a petitioner can claim that the election be annulled for reason of substantial non-compliance and in the same breath claim that he won the election by a majority of lawful notes. A petitioner may plead the same set of facts to ground alternative reliefs. Those pleadings are not ipso facto held to be self-contradictory. The Court can only grant one relief as the party must decide which relief is best supported by the evidence on record.” See also: METAL CONSTRUCTION (W.A.) LTD v ABODERIN (1998) LPELR 1868(SC) at pages 26, paras. C E.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

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DECLARATIVE RELIEFS MUST BE PROVED; EVEN ADMISSION CANNOT MAKE IT SUCCEED

It will be recalled that the 1st and 2nd respondents sought declaratory reliefs before the tribunal. The law is that where a party seeks declaratory reliefs, the burden is on him to succeed on the strength of his own case and not on the weakness of the defence (if any). Such reliefs will not be granted, even on admission. See Emenike v. PDP (2012) All FWLR (Pt. 640) 1261, (2012) LPELR – SC 443/2011 at 27- G;Dumez Ltd v. Nwakhoba (2008) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1119) 361 at 373 – 374, (2009) All FWLR (Pt. 461) 842; Ucha v. Elechi (2012) 13 NWLR (Pt. 1317) 230. The 1st and 2nd respondents herein failed to establish the allegation of non-compliance with the provisions of the Electoral Act in the manner enjoined by this court in Ucha v. Elechi , polling unit by polling unit. Voters registers were tendered in respect of only 11 out of 23 Local Government Areas and were not demonstrated before the tribunal.

— Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Nyesom v. Peterside (SC.1002/2015 (REASONS), 12 Feb 2016)

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DECLARATORY RELIEFS MUST BE PROVED

It must be emphasized that declaratory reliefs are not given just for the asking. A party seeking declaratory relief must satisfy the court by cogent and proven evidence that he is entitled to such declaration. It cannot be proved half way. Where parties, as in this case, are in agreement that the land in dispute is a family land or originally founded by a family, any party who claims exclusive ownership of the land or part thereof must fail unless he is able to plead and prove by evidence how that exclusive ownership or title devolves on him.

– Denton West JCA. Salaja v. Salaja (2013)

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DECLARATORY RELIEFS ARE MADE ONLY ON EVIDENCE AND NOT BY ADMISSION OF THE OTHER PARTY

The Law on the requirement to plead and prove his claim for declaratory reliefs on the evidence called by him without relying on the evidence called by the Defendant is well settled. The burden of proof on the Plaintiff in establishing declaratory reliefs to the satisfaction of the Court is quite heavy in the sense that such declaratory reliefs are not granted even on admission by the Defendants, where Plaintiff fails to establish his entitlement to the declaration by his own evidence … it has always been my experience and I believe it to be a long standing that the Court does not make declarations of rights either on admissions or in default of pleadings but only if the Court is satisfied by evidence.

— B.B. Kanyip, J. Olatunji v UBER (2018) – NICN/LA/546/2017

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DECLARATORY RELIEFS ARE NOT GRANTED WITHOUT PROOF

✓ In IKUMA v. CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION BENUE STATE & ORS (2012) LPELR-8621(CA) held that: “Declaratory reliefs are not granted as a matter of course but on credible evidence lead. This is so even where the other partly admits the claims. See David Fabunmi Vs Agbe (1985) 1NWLR (pt.2) 316.” Per TSAMIYA, J.C.A. (P. 22, para. A.
✓ For want of emphasis, the court in OYETUNJI v. AWOYEMI & ORS (2013) LPELR-20226(CA) also held that: “In line with the general burden of proof as stated above, it is equally trite that in a claim for a declaratory relief a claimant must succeed on the strength of his own case and not on the weakness of the defence unless there is an aspect of the defendant’s case that supports his case. See: Mogaji v. Cadbury Nig. Ltd. (1985) 2 NWLR (7) 393 @ 429 D – E; Kodilinye v. Odu (1936) 2 WACA 336 @ 337; Onwugbufor v. Okoye (1996) 1 NWLR (424) 252; Shittu v. Fashawe (2005) 14 NWLR (946) 671.” Per KEKERE-EKUN, J.C.A. (as she then was) (P. 34, paras. C-E).

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