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THE PERSON WHO WOULD LOSE HAS THE GENERAL BURDEN

Dictum

In civil cases, the ultimate burden of establishing a case is as disclosed on the pleadings. The person who would lose the case if on completion of pleadings and no evidence is led on either side has the general burden of proof. See Elemo & Ors. v. Omolade & Ors (1968) NMLR 359. See also section 137(1) of the Evidence Act.

— O. Ogwuegbu, JSC. Uzokwe v. Densy Industries Nig. Ltd. & Anor. (2002) – SC.134/1999

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HE WHO ALLEGES MUST PROVE

✓ Para. 25: In Petrostar (Nigeria) Limited V. Blackberry Nigeria Limited & 1 or (2011) CCJELR, the Court in its consideration reiterated the cardinal principle of law that “he who alleges must prove”.

✓ Para. 27: In Front for Liberation of the State Of Cabinda V. Republic Of Angola 5th November 2013, ACHPR, 328/06, 54TH Ordinary Session, where the Plaintiffs brought the application on behalf of the People of Cabinda on alleged violations of Articles 19, 20, 21, 22 and 24 of the African Charter, by infringing on their rights to natural resources, authorizing exploitation activities that did not favor the development of the people of Cabinda and allowing companies to operate in manners that are harmful to the environment and human health. The Commission held that the complainant failed to adduce evidence to support that the people of Cabinda were treated unequally in comparison to other people in Angola in violation of Article 19 of the Charter.

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STANDARD OF PROOF IN CRIMINAL PROCEEDINGS

It was not for the appellant to prove that the stick he held did not and could not cause the injuries. It is for the prosecution to prove that its use caused the injuries. The burden does not shift. The standard of proof required is very high. On this point, Lord Diplock says – In criminal proceedings, by an exception to the general rule founded upon considerations of public policy. If the consequence of a finding that a particular fact is proved will be the conviction of the defendant the degree of probability must be so high as to exclude any reasonable doubt that that fact exists. Generally speaking, no onus lies upon a defendant in criminal proceedings to prove or disprove any fact; it is sufficient for his acquittal if any of the acts, which, if they existed, would constitute the offence with which he is charged are ‘not proved’ Per Lord Diplock in Public Prosecutor v. Yuvavaj (1970) A.C. 913 at 921.

— Obaseki, JSC. Adie v. State (1980) – SC24/1978

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BURDEN OF PROOF ON HE WHO WILL FAIL

In civil cases the burden of first proving the existence or non-existence of a fact lies on the party against whom the judgment of the court would be given if no evidence were produced on either side, regard being had to any presumption that may arise on the pleadings.

– Niki Tobi, JSC. Calabar CC v. Ekpo (2008)

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PROOF OF DELIVERY OF DOCUMENT

Agbaje v. Fashola (2008) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1082) 90 at 142. “Where it is alleged that a document was delivered to a person who denies receiving such document, proof of delivery to such person can be established by: (a) dispatch book indicating receipt; or (b) evidence of dispatch by registered post; or (c) evidence of witness, credible enough that the person was served with the document.”

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BURDEN OF PROOF ALWAYS ON THE PROSECUTION; BURDEN FOR INSANITY ON THE ACCUSED

The law is trite, that in all criminal cases in common law countries like Nigeria which operates from time immemorial, common law jurisprudence, the burden of proof is always on the prosecution. This notion is entrenched in Section 135 of the Evidence Act which further put the standard of such proof to be beyond reasonable doubt. SeeOgundiyan Vs The State (1991) 3 NWLR (pt.181)519 or (1991)4 SCNJ 44 or (1991)3 SC 100. It needs to be emphasized however, that the burden of proof always remains on the prosecution, except of course, in few limited circumstances such as in the defence of insanity in which the law presumes an accused person to be sane and therefore it casts the burden of establishing the contrary on the accused.

— A. Sanusi, JSC. Bassey v State (2019) – SC.900/2016

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BURDEN OF PROOF LIES ON THE PROSECUTION AND IT NEVER SHIFTS

In Alonge v. I.G.P. (1959) 4 FSC 203 at 204; (1959) SCNLR 516, Ademola, CJF stressing the burden of proof on the prosecution in a criminal case observed: “Now, the commission of a crime by a party must be proved beyond reasonable doubt. The burden of proving that any person is guilty of a crime rests on the person who asserts it and this is the law as laid down in section 137 of the Evidence Ordinance. Cap. 62. The burden of proof lies on the prosecution and it never shifts; and if on the whole evidence the court is left in a state of doubt, the prosecution would have failed to discharge the onus of proof which the law lays upon it and the prisoner is entitled to an acquittal”

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