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WHERE THE SCALES ARE EVENLY WEIGHTED, BURDEN IS NOT DISCHARGED

Dictum

It is also the established law that in a declaration of title, the burden or proof on the plaintiff is not discharged even where the scales are evenly weighted between the parties. See Odiete and Ors. v. Okotie and Ors. (1975) 1 NMLR 178 applied in Saka Owoade and Anor. v. John Abodunrin Onitola and Ors. (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 77) 413.

— Dike & Ors. V. Francis Okoloedo & Ors. (SC.116/1993, 15 Jul 1999)

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BURDEN OF PROOF LIES ON THE PLAINTIFF

The general rule in civil cases is that the burden of proof rests upon the party who substantially assert the affirmative before the evidence is gone into. Therefore, the burden of proof lies on the person who will fail assuming no evidence had been adduced on either side…Where the plaintiff as in this case, pleads and relies on negligence by conduct or action of the defendant, the plaintiff must prove by evidence the conduct or action and the circumstances of its occurrence, which give rise to the breach of the duty of care owed the plaintiff. And that it is only after this, that the burden shifts to the defendant to adduce evidence to challenge negligence on his part.

– Shuaibu JCA. Diamond Bank v. Mocok (2019)

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PERSON WHO ASSERTS HAS ONUS TO PROVE – (ECOWAS Court)

In FEMI FALANA & ANOR V REPUBLIC OF BENIN & 2 ORS (2012) ECW/CCJ/JUD/02/12 PG. 34, the court held that: “As always, the onus of proof is on a party who asserts a fact and who will fail if that fact fails to attain that standard of proof that will persuade the court to believe the statement of the claim”. Vide SIKIRU ALADE VS FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2012) ECW/CCJ/JUD/10/12. PARA 48.

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HE WHO ASSERTS MUST PROVE

The burden of proving a particular fact is on the party who asserts it. See Okubule v. Oyagbola, (1990) 4 N.W.L.R. (Pt.147) 723; and Ike v. Ugboaja (1993) 6 N.W.L.R. (Pt.301) 539. That is the position in civil cases but the onus does not remain static. It shifts from side to side, where necessary, and the onus of adducing further evidence is on the person who will fail if such evidence was not adduced.

– Adio, JSC. UBN v. Ozigi (1994)

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THE PERSON WHO WOULD LOSE HAS THE GENERAL BURDEN

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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BURDEN OF PROOF IS ON PROSECUTION TO ESTABLISH MURDER

It is however settled law that it is the duty of the prosecution to establish or prove the charge/case against an accused person. In other words, it is the prosecution that bears the burden of proving the guilt of the accused person. For the court to come to the conclusion that the prosecution has discharged the burden placed on it by law, it must be satisfied that the conclusion is beyond reasonable doubt as it is settled law that any doubt existing in such a case must be resolved in favour of the accused person. In other words, the standard of proof in criminal trials is that of prove beyond reasonable doubt.

— Onnoghen, JSC. Njoku v. The State (2012)

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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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