ABUBAKAR SADIQ MOHAMMED v. HON. ABDULLAHI MOHAMMED WAMMAKO & ORS
Appeal no: SC.788/2016
Areas Of Law:
Action, Counter Affidavit, Electoral Law, Law Of Evidence.
Summary Of Facts
The 1st Respondent, a member of the All Progressive Congress (APC), contested and won the election to represent the Kware/Wammako Federal Constituency, Sokoto at the House of Representative.
The Plaintiff/Appellant who was also a member of the APC filed an Originating Summons at the trial court seeking declaratory and injunctive reliefs on grounds that the 1st Respondent submitted false information to the 3rd Respondent in his Form CF001 and was therefore disqualified from standing as the candidate of the party for the 2015 General Election for Kware/Wammako Federal Constituency, Sokoto State.
The Respondent filed a notice of preliminary objection challenging the jurisdiction of the court, for the non-disclosure of reasonable cause of action and for being an abuse of the process of the Court and same was upheld by the court.
The Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal but he did not challenge the rationes decidendi on the question of the absence of reasonable cause of action and the issue of the abuse of the process of the court.
The lower court in its judgement, upheld the ruling of the trial court, hence a further appeal to this court.
Issues For Determination
Ø Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right and justified in law in striking out issue number three as framed by the appellant along with ground three of the Notice of Appeal on the premise that the said issue did not flow from the said ground of appeal?
Ø Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right and correct in their judgment that the trial Court’s decision to the effect that the appellant’s action did not disclose reasonable cause of action subsists since there is no ground of appeal attacking same?
Ø Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right and correct in their findings and conclusions that the appellant failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the allegations of false information and certificate forgery levied against the first respondent which conclusion among other reasons led to dismissal of the appellant’s case?
Ø Whether the Court below was right in striking out ground three of the Notice of Appeal and issue three distilled therefrom and was the Court below right to hold as it did that the decision of the trial Court that the appellant’s case discloses no reasonable cause of action subsides since there was no ground of appeal attacking it?
Ø Whether the Court below was right when it came to the conclusion that the appellant failed in law to prove the allegation of false information and dismissed the appellant’s appeal?
DECLARATORY RELIEFS – DUTY OF A PARTY IN A CLAIM FOR DECLARATORY RELIEFS
“With respect, I, entirely, endorse the submission of the learned senior counsel for the first and second respondents that, since the appellant sought for declaratory reliefs, he had an obligation to advance evidence in proof thereof. The reason is not far-fetched. Courts have the discretion either to grant or refuse declaratory reliefs.
Indeed, their success, largely, depends on the strength of the plaintiff’s case. It does not depend on the defendant’s defence, Maja v. Samouris (2002) 7 NWLR (pt 765) 78; CPC v. INEC (2012) 1 NWLR (pt. 1280) 106, 131. This must be so for the burden on the plaintiff in establishing declaratory reliefs is, often, quite heavy, Bello v. Eweka (1981) 1 SC 101; Okedare v. Adebara  6 NWLR (pt. 349) 157; Dumez Nig Ltd v. Nwakhoba  18 NWLR (pt 1119) 361, 374. PER C. C.NWEZE, J.S.C.
SECTION 31(5) OF THE ELECTORAL ACT, 2010 – NATURE OF AN ACTION COMMENCED UNDER SECTION 31(5) OF THE ELECTORAL ACT, 2010, AS AMENDED
“It has to be pointed out that the action was grounded on the provisions of Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, which provides that a person who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by a candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate is false, may approach the High Court for redress. An action commenced under that Section places the burden of proving the falsification of the information or document on the plaintiff or the law remains that he who alleges must prove”. PER W.S. N. ONNOGHEN, J.S.C
STANDARD OF PROOF – STANDARD OF PROOF REQUIRED IN AN ACTION FOUNDED ON SECTION 31(5) OF THE ELECTORAL ACT, 2010, AS AMENDED
“It should also be pointed out that the standard of proof required in an action on Section 31(5) of the Electoral Act, 2010, as amended, is proof beyond reasonable doubt PER W.S. N. ONNOGHEN, J.S.C
STANDARD OF PROOF – STANDARD OF PROOF REQUIRED IN CRIMINAL ALLEGATIONS
Secondly, the allegations being criminal in nature, the standard of proof is that required under Section 135(1) and (2) of the Evidence Act, 2011 and as decided by this Court in a long line of cases including Nwobodo V. Onoh (1984) 1 SCNLRI. Kakaih v. PDP (2014) 15 NWLR (Pt. 1430) 374″. PER W.S. N. ONNOGHEN, J.S.C
COUNTER AFFIDAVIT – INSTANCES WHERE A COUNTER AFFIDAVIT NEED NOT BE FILED
“The law is also well entrenched that where evidence as contained in an affidavit is not cogent and strong enough to prove the case, there will be no need to file a counter affidavit. In other words, the filing of a counter affidavit should not be a matter of course. It need not be filed if it would not either serve any useful purpose or affect the outcome. See the decision in the case of Ogoejeofo V. Ogoejeofo (2006) All FWLR (Pt. 301) 1992 at 1903 – 1904″. PER C. B. OGUNBIYI, J.S.C.
COUNTER AFFIDAVIT- WHEN IS A COUNTER AFFIDAVIT UNNECESSARY?
“The law is settled also that where such averments are taken together and are not sufficient to sustain the reliefs sought, a counter affidavit in challenging same is manifestly unnecessary. PER C. B. OGUNBIYI, J.S.C.
DECLARATORY RELIEFS – WHETHER DECLARATORY RELIEFS ARE GRANTED ON ADMISSION
“It is further settled and well established that declaratory reliefs are not granted even on admission. The plaintiff who sought for such relief must prove and succeed on the strength of his case and not rely on the weakness of the defence. See the case of Emenike v. P.D.P (2012) 50 NSCQR 94 at 130 per Fabiyi, JSC where it was held that:-
“the burden of proof on the plaintiff in establishing declaratory relief to the satisfaction of the Court is quite heavy in the sense that such declaratory reliefs are not granted even on admission by the defendant where the plaintiff fails to establish his entitlement to the declaration by his own evidence.”
The same principle was emphasized also in the case of C.P.C. V. INEC (2012) 1 NWLR (pt. 1280) 106 of 131 where this Court held and said:-
“The Court does not make declarations of right either on admission as in default of defence without having evidence and being satisfied by such evidence to the plaintiff’s entitlement to such a right. The requirement of oral evidence arises from the fact that the Court has discretion to grant or refuse a declaratory relief and its success depends entirely on the strength of the plaintiff’s own case and not on the defence.”
– PER C. B. OGUNBIYI, J.S.C.:
DECLARATORY RELIEFS – DUTY OF A PLAINTIFF IN PROVING HIS ENTITLEMENT TO A CLAIM FOR DECLARATORY RELIEFS
“The law is well settled that in a claim for declaratory reliefs (as in the instant case), the plaintiff must prove his entitlement to such declaratory reliefs by cogent and credible evidence. He must rely on the strength of his own case and not on the weakness of the defence (if any). Indeed a declaratory relief will not be granted on the basis of admission by the adverse party. See: Dumez Nig. Ltd. V. Nwakhoba (2008) 18 NWLR (pt. 1119) 361; Wallersteiner V. Moir (1974) 3 ALL ER 217 @ 251; Bello V. Eweka (1981) 1 SC (Reprint) 63; Emenike V. P.D.P. (2012) LPELR – 7802 (SC); Matanmi V. Dada (2013) LPELR – 19929 (SC)”. PER K. M. O. KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C
PROOF OF ALLEGATION OF FORGERY – EVIDENCE TO ESTABLISH AN ALLEGATION OF FORGERY
“The allegation of forgery is criminal in nature. The standard of proof is beyond reasonable doubt. Evidence that would establish the allegation in this case beyond reasonable doubt would include:
(a) exhibiting both the document from which the alleged forgery was made and the forged document;
(b) evidence that it was the 1st respondent who forged the document(s);
(c) communication from the Polytechnic of Sokoto State disputing the 1st respondent’s claim to have studied there.
See: A.P.C. V. P.D.P. & Ors (2015) LPELR – 24587 (SC); Ndoma-Egba v. A.C.B. Plc (2005) 14 NWLR (Pt.944) 79“.PER K. M. O. KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C
Statutes Referred To:
Electoral Act, 2010, as amended
Evidence Act Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 2004
Culled from LegalPedia