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WHERE CONFLICT IN BOTH AFFIDAVITS, COURT WILL CALL FOR ORAL EVIDENCE

Dictum

On the question of conflict of affidavit evidence placed before the lower court which appellant’s learned Counsel had submitted should be resolved by oral evidence in order to act on such evidence, our case law is replete with authorities that where a matter is being tried on affidavit evidence and the court is confronted with conflicting or contradictory evidence relied on by the parties on a material issue before the court; it is the law that the court cannot resolve such conflict by evaluating the conflicting evidence but is obliged to call for oral evidence in order to achieve resolution of the conflict. (See Falobi v Falobi (1976) 9 & 10 SC 1 and Akinsete v Akidutire (1966) All NLR 137).

— Achike JSC. Momah v VAB Petro (2000) – SC. 183/1995

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CALL ORAL EVIDENCE WHERE CONTRADICTIONS IN AFFIDAVIT & COUNTER-AFFIDAVIT

The learned counsel to the Appellant had argued that if there are contradictions in the affidavit and counter affidavit the court should not believe one side and reject the other but, call oral evidence to clear the contradictions. Yes, this is the correct position of the law when the affidavits evidence are from both sides but contradictory.

– Uwa, JCA. GTB v. Innoson (2014) – CA/I/258/2011

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DISTINCTION BETWEEN WITNESS STATEMENT ON OATH & AFFIDAVIT

In Okpa v. Irek & Anor. [2012] LPELR-8033 (CA) held thus: This court has consistently held that a witness statement on oath is different from affidavit evidence. An affidavit is a statement of fact which the maker or deponent swears to be true to the best of his knowledge. It is a court Process in writing deposing to facts within the knowledge of the deponent. It is documentary evidence which the court can admit in the absence of any unchallenged evidence. Akpokeniovo v. Agas [2004] 10 NWLR (Pt. 881) 394. On the contrary a witness statement is not evidence. It only becomes evidence after the witness is sworn in court and adopts his witness statement. At this stage at best it becomes evidence in chief. It is thereafter subjected to cross examination after which it becomes evidence to be used by the Court. If the opponent fails to cross examine the witness, it is taken as the true situation of facts contained therein.

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AFFIDAVIT FOR INTERLOCUTORY MOTION IS DIFFERENT FROM THAT OF MAIN SUIT

The long and short of it is that the defendant’s submission that the Court should consider its counter-affidavit to the claimants’ motion for interlocutory orders, having been moved and ruled on, cannot be considered as the defence of the defendant to the substantive suit. The counteraffidavit had served its purpose i.e. as the defence to the motion for interlocutory orders. It is not the defence of the defendant to the substantive suit … All this said, the oral application to use the defendant’s counter-affidavit to the motion of interlocutory orders in this judgment is hereby refused. I so rule.

— B.B. Kanyip, J. FG v. ASUU (2023) – NICN/ABJ/270/2022

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WEIGHT OF AN AFFIDAVIT EVIDENCE OF TITLE TO LAND

I turn to Exhibit 2. It is an affidavit deposing to title. An affidavit evidence of title to land is not sacrosanct, evidential value wise. Such deposition can only be admissible if it is not challenged by the adverse party. If the deposition is challenged, then the parties have joined issues and the onus is on the deponent or any other witness as the case may be, to prove by oral evidence the veracity or authenticity of the deposition. Exhibit 2 is yet another evidence of traditional history which unfortunately the learned trial Judge, from the totality of the oral evidences before him, rejected. I therefore hold that Exhibit 2 does not have any probative value of any record found therein.

— Tobi, JCA. Abraham v Olorunfunmi (1990) – CA/L/83/89

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AN AFFIDAVIT MUST BE CONFINED TO FACTS ADMISSIBLE IN COURT

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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CONCLUSION DRAWN IN AFFIDAVIT NEED NOT BE LEGAL CONCLUSION FOR STRIKING OUT

Besides, I do not think that view has any merit either by way of the interpretation of the said Section 87 of the Evidence Act or by looking broadly at the word “conclusion” which covers any conclusion based on fact or law as a result of a process of reasoning. It is the same process by which opinion or deduction is arrived at or inference drawn. Therefore to say that the conclusion meant under Section 87 is legal conclusion is restrictive and misleading.

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

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