The Subject of Affidavit in Law
An affidavit is a sworn testimony containing facts. It is a testimony usually sworn under an oath or in affirmation into the court. Before an affidavit is approved, it must have been sworn before a registry clerk or lawyer (a judge, officer and another person duly authorized to take affidavit). The commissioner for oath’s presence is also needed to witness the swearing of the affidavit. Though the commissioner for oath is the only person before whom an affidavit can be deposed to, in practice, it is the commissioner for oath that regulates and conducts oath-taking.
The word “affidavit” means a written statement of facts voluntarily made
by an affiant (otherwise known as “deponent”) under an oath or
affirmation administered by a person authorized to do so by law. Thus,
an affidavit is a written document signed by a deponent stating certain
relevant facts within the direct or circumstantial knowledge of the
deponent. An affidavit could be sworn in a court or within the office of
a notary public authorized to administer oath on behalf of the public.
Where the affidavit is done in a court, it must be signed and sealed by
the commissioner for oath of the court. Further rules and practice
procedure governing affidavit evidence generally can be found under the
Evidence Act 2011.
In Nigeria, there are many instances where an affidavit is necessary and should be done by the deponent. For instance, where a deponent need to provides evidence of his or her age in the absence of certificate of birth, an affidavit of declaration of age becomes indispensable.
An affidavit can be done in respect of the underlisted situations:
- Change of name; affidavit of service by sheriffs;
- Change of ownership (especially in motor vehicles)
- Affidavit of means; Affidavit in lieu of tenement rate
- Trustees; Administrators; Executors’ affidavit.
- Affidavit of Guardianship;
- Proof of ownership;
- Authorization cases
- Power of Attorney
- Lost Items/Documents of title;
- Loss of Sim Card/Replacement
- Affidavits used in general practice litigation such as witness
statement on oaths, affidavit in support of motions, affidavit required
through official papers, MOUs, commercial documents requiring
notarization or oath, among other areas.
In Maraya Plastics Industries Ltd & Anor v. Inland Bank of Nigeria Plc, the court of appeal per Omage JCA, stated thus, an affidavit is averments contained in a paper which are sworn before the commissioner for oaths. The affidavit has to be filed in the court registry. It is the swearing that makes the document an affidavit. Where the document is not sworn to, it is only a piece of paper, not an affidavit. Without oath, therefore there is no affidavit. The above is a general rule and there are exceptions provided for in the Evidence Act. Hence, an affidavit may not be sworn to on:
- Religious grounds
- Age – immaturity.
The above must be indicated by the officer taking the oath. The person deposing to an affidavit becomes the deponent.
Structure of an Affidavit
The relevant fact must be contained in the body of the affidavit. An affidavit is best kept succinct before deciding necessary contents which would be used in its coating. Same principles also apply in sentences and paragraphs. In the process of summarising the affidavit, important notes should not be unlocked while ensuring it’s sentences are limited to 10 words as that would be the main interest of the legal practitioner. An affidavit is complete where it obeys the S.O.S(simple, organised and short)principle.
- Style of Proceeding: This usually surfaces on the initial section of all legal files. It states who issues and gives also the file number. The style of proceeding appears constant throughout the life of the court case unless the legal leader drifts in plans. It also enables the court registry staff to put the document in the right document. 3 points must be outlined at the top right corner of the style of proceeding:
- Total number of the affidavit done(might have been past one)
- Name of deponent (your name)
- Actual date of the drafted affidavit
- Deponent’s Statement: An affidavit is made by deponent as such, you have to identify yourself as the person swearing to the stated facts in the affidavit. Example: I, TomJones, of 132 Main Street, in the City of Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, electrician, MAKE OATH AND SAY THAT:
This statement made by the deponent comes at the beginning of each identified affidavit. It is detailed and projects everything concerning the occupation of the deponent.
- Knowledge Statement: This clearly records two things:
- Owning to you being a plaintiff, defendant, petitioner, or respondent
- Owning to having personal knowledge of the information penned in the affidavit.
- Body of the Affidavit: This is the most important part.
- Ending of the Affidavit
Format of an affidavit
Affidavit is meant to state the material facts and allow the court to draw the conclusion. Commissioner for Agriculture, the Court of Appeal stated that an affidavit is a statement of fact which the maker or deponent has personal knowledge or which are based on information which he believes to be true.
No legal argument, conclusion or other extraneous matter must be included. When an illiterate or a blind person deposes an affidavit, the fact that such person is unschooled shall be stated there and there must be a notice. Also, the language in which the affidavit was deposed should be attached to that translated into the language of the court (English language).
Note that a legal practitioner handling the action on behalf of the applicant can depose to an affidavit as no law provides otherwise. However, where there are affidavit and counter-affidavit which are held to be contradictory, there would be need for the court to call oral evidence. When the legal practitioner is then called as a witness, problem would arise as to who will examine and re-examine.
By virtue of the Evidence Act, the following are what an affidavit should contain.
Statements of facts
The source of statement of facts which could be personal knowledge or otherwise
An affidavit is not to contain extraneous matter by way of objection, prayer, legal argument or conclusion. When fact is from another person, the particulars of the person shall be stated and the time, place and circumstances of the information shall also be stated.
TYPES OF AFFIDAVIT
Affidavit in support of application
Affidavit of urgency
Affidavit of service
Further and better affidavit
Further, further and better affidavit
Affidavit for the record.
CONFLICTS IN AFFIDAVITS
Where there are conflicts in affidavits, the court may do any or all of the following
Call for oral evidence to resolve the conflict.
Resolve the conflict from the documentary evidence attached to the affidavits were available and sufficient to do so.
Affidavit is needed in the following application:
Originating motion/application, summons, petition excluding election petition. NOTE THAT IN ELECTION PETITION, NO NEED TO FILE AFFIDAVIT
The relevant section of Nigeria's 2011 Evidence Act that deals with affidavits is Articles 107-120. Articles 108-111 of the Act state that:
108. Before an affidavit is used in the Court for any purpose, the original shall be filed in the court and the original or an office copy shall alone be recognised for any purpose in the court.
109. Any affidavit sworn before any judge, officer or other person duly authorised to take affidavits in Nigeria may be used in the court in all cases where affidavits are admissible.
110. Any affidavit sworn in any country other than Nigeria before (a) a judge or magistrate, being authenticated by the official seal of the court to which he is attached, or by a notary public; (b) the duly authorised officer in the Nigerian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in that country may be used in the court in all cases where affidavits are admissible.
111. The fact that an affidavit purports to have been sworn in the manner prescribed in the preceding sections shall be prima facie evidence of: the seal or signature, as the case may be, of any such court, judge, magistrate or other officer or person mentioned in, or appended or subscribed to, any such affidavit; and the authority of such court, judge, magistrate or other officer or person to administer oaths. (Nigeria 2011)
Article 10(1) of Nigeria's federal Oaths Act provides that:
10. (1) It shall be lawful for the Chief Justice of Nigeria, a Justice of the Supreme Court, The President and Justices of the Court of Appeal, and any judge of the Federal High Court, a notary public, and any commissioner for oaths, to administer any lawful oath or to take any lawful affirmation or affidavit which may be required to be taken or made for the purpose of complying with the requirements of any law for the time being in force throughout Nigeria or elsewhere, except where such procedure is expressly or by necessary implication manifestly excluded by the terms of such law as aforesaid and the presumption shall be against any such exclusion. (Nigeria 2003)
Types of Affidavits
Sources indicate that there are two categories of affidavits: those used in court proceedings and those used in non-court proceedings (Babalakin & Co. 15 Oct. 2014; Notary Public 16 Oct. 2014; NBA 20 Oct. 2014). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of Babalakin & Co., a Nigerian law firm specializing in commercial litigation and arbitration (Babalakin & Co. n.d.a), and whose partners include two Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN)  (ibid. n.d.b), indicated that the most common types of affidavits available in Nigeria include:
Written statements "which accompany processes used to initiate court proceedings in court in proof of a party's case before the court" (Babalakin & Co. 15 Oct. 2014);
Affidavits of facts "in support of applications filed in court which by the Rules of the court(s) must accompany all motions" (ibid.);
Affidavits of facts "which are generally filed to bring facts to the attention of a court" (ibid.);
Affidavits "verifying the loss of documents or other property" (ibid.);
Affidavits for a change of name;
Sworn declaration of age in lieu of a birth certificate; and
Affidavits "of good conduct" (ibid.).
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a Deputy Chief Registrar of the Ogun State Judiciary noted the following two types of available affidavits:
Statement of facts "in support of cases in Court" (Ogun State 14 Oct. 2014). This is a "written deposition on oath in support of cases in Court, pursuant to High Court Procedure Rules" (ibid.).
"Loss of vital documents," for example "birth certificate, death certificate, shares certificate, drivers license, vehicle particulars, Identity cards, etc" (ibid).
3. Authorities Who Can Issue and Swear Affidavits
The Babalakin & Co. representative, affidavit indicated that, pursuant to Article 10 of the federal Oaths Act, the following persons are authorized to administer oaths and therefore issue affidavits under federal law in Nigeria:
Chief Justice of Nigeria;
Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria;
President and Justices of the Court of Appeal;
Judges of the Federal High Court;
Notaries Public; and
Commissioners for Oaths. (Babalakin & Co.15 Oct. 2014, 3)
Commissioners for Oaths are officers of the court designated to administer oaths (Ondo State n.d.; Notary Public 16 Oct. 2014). According to the Deputy Chief Registrar, any court registrar "not less than grade level 7" could act as a Commissioner for Oaths (Ogun State 20 Oct. 2014).
The Babalakin & Co. representative further explained that at the state level, pursuant to "oaths laws of the various states" (ibid.), affidavits are issued by the following categories of persons:
The Chief Judge of the State;
Judges of the High Court [of the state];
Notaries Public; and
Commissioners for Oaths. (ibid.)
The same source indicated that "the rules, procedures, and persons before whom affidavits and oaths may be deposed are generally uniform in all states" (15 Oct. 2014, 5).
3.1 Affidavits for Court Proceedings
Article 109 of the 2011 Evidence Act provides that:
109. Any affidavit sworn before any judge, officer or other person duly authorised to take affidavits in Nigeria may be used in the court in all cases where affidavits are admissible. (Nigeria 2011)
However, sources state that for matters of court proceedings, affidavits are sworn by a Commissioner for Oaths (Ondo State n.d.; NBA 20 Oct. 2014; Notary Public 16 Oct. 2014). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a Notary Public based in Lagos state said that it is a "matter of practice" and "revenue drive" that affidavits used in court proceedings are "limited" to being issued by a Commissioner for Oaths (16 Oct. 2014). Similarly, an article published in the Nigerian newspaper the Punch reports that "[t]he basis for the practice (that a deponent must appear before the Commissioner for [O]aths to complete the process of an affidavit) [for court proceedings] seems to lie in practice directions issued to registrars and court officers" (The Punch 3 Mar. 2014). The Notary Public indicated that magistrates can also swear affidavits for use in court proceedings (16 Oct. 2014). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
In correspondence with the Research Directorate, the Deputy Chief Registrar of the Ogun State Judiciary explained that affidavits sworn before the Commissioner for Oaths can be commissioned in the customary courts, magistrate courts, or the state's High Court of Justice; however, "written deposition on oaths which is in the form of statements of facts filed in court could only be done at the High Court" (Ogun State 14 Oct. 2014).
3.2 Affidavits for Non-Court Proceedings ('Private' or 'Personal' Affidavits)
According to sources, a Commissioner for Oaths and a Notary Public can both swear and issue private affidavits [affidavits used in non-court proceedings] (Nigeria 20 Oct. 2014; NBA 20 Oct. 2014; Notary Public 16 Oct. 2014). The Notary Public noted that notaries "mainly deal with private affidavits, not one[s] for use in judicial proceedings" (16 Oct. 2014).
4. Procedures to Obtain an Affidavit
Article 117(4) of the 2011 Evidence Act provides that
117(4). An affidavit when sworn shall be signed by the deponent or if he cannot write or is blind, marked by him personally with his mark, in the presence of the person before whom it is taken. (Nigeria 2011)
Similarly, sources report that deponents to an affidavit must appear in person before a Commissioner for Oaths (AllAfrica 14 Mar. 2011; NBA 20 Oct. 2014) or a Notary Public (ibid.).
Articles 108, 115 and 117-119 of the 2011 Evidence Act describe the procedural requirements for obtaining an affidavit and are attached to this Response, including Article 117(1)(b) which provides that deponents are required to state their full name, trade, profession, residence, and nationality (Nigeria 2011). In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a representative of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) explained that the procedure to obtain a sworn affidavit is as follows:
The deponent "will approach either a Commissioner for Oaths at the court, or a notary public," noting that affidavits for court proceedings are sworn by a Commissioner for Oaths (NBA 20 Oct. 2014).
The deponent "will pay the requisite fee and be issued a receipt," noting that a receipt will be given if the affidavit is done in a court.
The identity of the deponent "will be verified,". Notaries do this by checking a passport or national ID card". Also, the Commissioner for Oaths or Notary will verify "the facts of the deponent's statement by asking questions and requesting the deponent to present any evidence, as needed, to ascertain the facts".
The deponent "will swear to the information and sign the affidavit" and then the Commissioner for Oaths or Notary "will sign and seal the affidavit".
Affidavits are obtained by simply deposing to the contents before/in the presence of the designated officer/person(s) authorized to administer oaths/affidavits" (Babalakin & Co. 15 Oct. 2014). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who is also a Professor of Law at Ebonyi University, said that the procedure to obtain an affidavit either involves the person preparing the affidavit in advance, going to the court registry and swearing to the affidavit before the Commissioner for Oaths, or, if he has not prepared the affidavit in advance, he can have one typed out at the registry, which is then sworn before the Commissioner for Oaths (16 Oct. 2014). According to the SAN, people who are illiterate or do not have assistance to prepare their affidavits will use this method (ibid.). Article 119 of the 2011 Evidence Act provides that affidavits sworn by illiterate or blind persons must include a jurat that states that the contents of the affidavit have been read to, and understood by, the deponent (Nigeria 2011).
Examples of State-Specific Procedures to Obtain a Court-Issued Affidavit
Ondo State Judiciary: The Ondo State Judiciary website provides information about how to obtain a sworn affidavit and indicates that an affidavit is sworn "by presentation of the document to the officer [Commissioner for Oaths] after payment of prescribed fees. It is important that a receipt is presented before the deponent".
Ogun State Judiciary: According to the Deputy Chief Registrar in Ogun state, the procedure to obtain an affidavit is as follows:
The person will state in a written form, his name, which must be in full not the initials.
His sex, tribe, address, religion and nationality.
The applicant will depose to the information that he wants to state, which must be facts and not law. It must be duly signed before the Registrar or Commissioner [for Oaths].
The Registrar must identify the person who is swearing to the oath. The identification of the deponent is very important; it must be ascertained before the affidavit is commissioned. (Ogun State 14 Oct. 2014)
The same source explains that the deponent is identified through personal identification documents such as a "National Identity Card, National Driver's Licence, International Passport, Voters Registration Card, Passport photographs, etc." (Ogun State 20 Oct. 2014). Once the deponent is identified by the Registrar, the Registrar obtains the requisite fees, and
issues a receipt, stamps the affidavit with the official stamp, he writes the receipt number on the stamp on the affidavit. The deponent is put on Oath and his document is later commissioned. The serial number of the receipt is quoted on the affidavit. (Ogun State 14 Oct. 2014)
According to the same source, there is no standard form to be used for a Statement of Facts used in court, but a passport photograph is displayed on this type of affidavit.
Provision of Identity Documents and Passport Photographs in the Issuance of Affidavits
6.1 Federal High Court Practices
According to an article published by AllAfrica, at the Federal High Courts throughout the country, the deponent to an affidavit must appear in person before the Commissioner for Oaths and attach two copies of their passport-sized photograph to the affidavit, before the Commissioner for Oaths signs the affidavit (AllAfrica 14 Mar. 2011). Similarly, the SAN indicated that in the Federal High Court the person must appear in person, and attach a passport photograph to the affidavit (SAN 16 Oct. 2014).
The Notary Public indicated that the Federal High Court in Abuja asks deponents for identification and that this is "strictly enforced" (Notary Public 16 Oct. 2014).
6.2 State and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Court Practices
AllAfrica reports that the Federal High Court practice [of appearing in person and attaching passport photos to the affidavit] does not extend to state level high courts and magistrate courts (AllAfrica 14 Mar. 2011). Similarly, according to the SAN, "in the different jurisdictions of Nigeria ... some of the State High Courts do not require the deponent to appear. Anybody can appear with an affidavit and it can be sworn. The Commissioner for Oaths has no way of knowing who the deponent is" (SAN 16 Oct. 2014). Likewise, according to the Notary Public, "provision of deponent's identity is a necessary requirement but it is often not enforced by many court registries in Nigeria" such as Magistrate and High Courts in various states (Notary Public 16 Oct. 2014).
An Assistant Superintendent with the Nigeria Police Special Fraud Unit in Lagos, noted that in the FCT in Abuja, Commissioners for Oaths ask for identification from a deponent (Nigeria 18 Oct. 2014). The SAN indicated that in the FCT High Court in Abuja, the person must appear in person, and attach a passport photograph to the affidavit (SAN 16 Oct. 2014).
According to the NBA representative, the practice of asking the deponent for identification "does not happen in the court issued affidavits by Commissioners for Oaths, unless it's for court proceedings" (20 Oct. 2014).
According to the Assistant Superintendent, in Lagos and "other states," it is not a requirement that the Commissioner for Oaths ask for identification from the deponent, however, a passport photograph of the deponent is "usually required," (Nigeria 18 Oct. 2014). The Notary Public indicated that Lagos, Ogun, and Delta states require a passport photo be affixed to the affidavit prior to it being sworn to (16 Oct. 2014).
6.3 Notary Public Practices
According to the Notary Public, Notaries Public "strictly" enforce the requirement that a deponent provides identification (16 Oct. 2014). The NBA representative indicated that Notaries Public check identity documents such as the deponent's passport or identity card (16 Oct. 2014). In contrast, the Assistant Superintendent stated that notaries "do not ask for identification from the deponent" prior to swearing an affidavit (Nigeria 20 Oct. 2014). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
7. Affidavit Fees and Issuance of Receipt
7.1 Court-Issued Affidavits
According to an article posted by AllAfrica, "the official fee for obtaining an affidavit in most magistrates and State High Courts is 250 Naira" [approximately C$1.70] (14 Mar. 2011). According to the Babalakin & Co. representative, affidavit fees vary depending on the court and the purpose of the affidavit (15 Oct. 2014). According to the SAN, a receipt is issued to the deponent and the court registry also keeps a copy of the receipt (SAN 16 October 2014). The Assistant Superintendent indicated that a fee will be paid and "revenue receipts are usually issued" (Nigeria 14 Oct. 2014).
7.2 Notary Public-Issued Affidavits
According to the NBA representative, notaries "do not usually issue receipts. They will mark on the affidavit that a fee has been paid and will sign it" (20 Oct. 2014). Similarly, according to the Assistant Superintendent, "it is not a common practice by the Notary Public to issue a receipt because the amount of money they do charge is not uniform" (Nigeria 20 Oct. 2014).
Verification of Affidavits: According to the Assistant Superintendent, the Police Special Fraud Unit relies on the "issuing authority to verify all documents," including affidavits (Nigeria 14 Oct. 2014). Similarly, the Notary Public indicated that for affidavits sworn in the courts, the Assistant Chief Registrar of the court is "usually the authority to confirm genuineness of any purported affidavit" and that for affidavits sworn by notaries, the Notary Public who issued the affidavit can be contacted for confirmation of the genuineness of the document (16 Oct. 2014).
Security Features on Court-Issued Affidavits: There are no security features on an affidavit (NBA 20 Oct. 2014; Nigeria 20 Oct. 2014; ibid. 14 Oct. 2014). According to the Assistant Superintendent, it is "almost impossible" to determine the authencity of a document by an "[on the] spot assessment" (ibid.) According to the NBA representative, an affidavit will carry "the signature of the deponent, the signature of the Commissioner for Oaths/Notary that swore the document, and the seal/stamp of the court/Notary" (NBA 20 Oct. 2014). For court-issued affidavits, the SAN indicated that every court has its own rubber or plastic seal, and the Commissioner for Oaths will affix the seal of the court to the affidavit, and sign his name at the bottom of the affidavit (16 Oct. 2014).
Notary Public-issued affidavits will carry the stamp of the notary that issued the affidavit (NBA 20 Oct. 2014; Nigeria 20 Oct. 2014) and "sometimes a seal and the name of the Notary Public" (ibid.). According to the Notary Public, a notary will "usually put his seal bearing his name and Supreme Court enrolment number" (16 Oct. 2014).
8.2 Receipts and Court Registry Verification of Court-Issued Affidavits
The representative of Babalakin & Co. indicated that judicial officers and other court officials are required to keep a record/copy of affidavits deposed before them, and the authenticity of an affidavit is verified by checking the records of the authority that administered the affidavit (15 Oct. 2014, 6). The Assistant Superintendent stated that "genuinely issued affidavits are usually properly documented" and can be "verified" as the Commissioner for Oaths "usually keeps a copy with the court registry," noting further that "the only way the court can determine the authenticity of an affidavit is to consult their records" (Nigeria 14 Oct. 2014.). The Deputy Chief Registrar of Ogun State indicated that in order to determine if an affidavit is genuine, the receipt number is confirmed in the court records, and the signature of the Commissioner of Oaths and the stamp on the receipt are verified (Ogun State 14 Oct. 2014).
8.3 Availability of Fraudulent and Irregularly-Issued Affidavits in Nigeria
According to the Babalakin & Co. representative, it is "difficult to empirically ascertain the prevalence of inauthentic affidavits. However, it is safe to say that a significant number of affidavits are procured on behalf of others" (Babalakin & Co. 15 Oct. 2014). The NBA representative stated that fraudulent affidavits are "widely available" (20 Oct. 2014). AllAfrica indicates that "touts"  and "court officials" procure affidavits for those who need them by charging "exorbitant fees" (14 Mar. 2011). The source reports that
[t]ypists hanging around the court premises with [makeshift] table and chairs alongside manual typewriters, charge each prospective declarant between N1,200 and N3,000 depending on the purpose of the affidavit, after which they ask their clients to wait around for them. They dash in, get the affidavit prepared, signed, sealed and ready to deliver. (ibid.)
The Assistant Superintendent noted that "the seal does not establish [an affidavit's] authenticity as all fake ones also do carry [the] seal" and that court staff involved in fraud will "pocket" a deponent's money, forge the signatures of the Commissioner for Oaths and return the affidavit with "signatures and seal" (18 Oct. 2014). The Notary Public noted that the official stamp and signature of the Commissioner for Oaths can "easily be forged" (16 Oct. 2014).
The Assistant Superintendent stated that court officials are involved in the procurement of affidavits for the purpose of private monetary gain (14 Oct. 2014). AllAfrica similarly reports that some court officials circumvent proper procedures in order to obtain money from applicants, noting that the practice of court officials procuring fraudulent affidavits occurs "openly" (AllAfrica 14 Nov. 2011). Likewise, the Babalakin & Co. representative indicated that it is "not unusual for persons to arrange to obtain affidavits by proxy without being physically present" and that "non-judicial staff of the courts have been known to arrange and procure affidavits for fees" (Babalakin & Co. 15 Oct. 2014, 6). The Assistant Superintendent stated that "the majority" of deponents do not "always" get to see the Commissioner for Oaths (Nigeria 18 Oct. 2014).
An article published by AllAfrica found that at the Ikeja High Court in Lagos, affidavits were obtained "by proxy" after the payment of a bribe to court clerks and office assistants (AllAfrica 14 Mar. 2011). The same article found that the practice also occurs:
At the magistrate court in Sabo-Yaba in Lagos state;
In the Bodija district in Ibadan state;
In Benue state at state and area courts within Makurdi, Otukpo, Ugbokpo, Gwer, Gboko and Katsina-Allah; and
In Kogi state (ibid.).
According to the Notary Public, affidavits are "rampantly forged" in Nigeria, particularly in the states of Lagos, Oyo, Delta, Ogun, and Osun (16 Oct. 2014). Similarly, the Assistant Superintendent notes the "massive procurement of fake documents, including affidavits," in the same states, as well as in Ondo state (Nigeria 18 Oct. 2014). The same source notes that the states of Ekiti and Kwara are also "known for irregular documents" (ibid.).
According to an article on the Nigerian media website Daily Newswatch, touts are visibly present outside the High Court in Lagos (Daily Newswatch 26 Oct. 2013). According to the article,
[f]or any customer that wants to purchase a sworn affidavit, the fee is N1,500, maybe as low as N750, depending on the customer's bargaining power. ... After agreeing on the fee, and providing the necessary information, the customer is made to wait under a tree or somewhere outside the court premises while the affidavit is 'manufactured' at a nearby kiosk with an unofficial stamp bearing the High Court seal. (ibid.)
The Nigerian newspaper the Punch reports that in Lagos, sworn affidavits, including "sureties, certificates of occupancy, tax clearance certificates" and documents for meeting bail conditions, can be obtained from touts on "very short notice" (The Punch 8 Dec. 2012).
9. Access to Genuine Affidavits
According to AllAfrica, some people obtain an affidavit from touts because they are not aware of the proper procedure to obtain an affidavit, while others wish to "avoid the perceived bureaucracy in the courts" (14 Mar. 2011). The Assistant Superintendent similarly indicated that when applying to obtain an affidavit, a person will sometimes approach the source with the intention of obtaining the affidavit genuinely; however, "because of [the] endemic nature of corruption in the system, the applicant can be given an affidavit that does not come from the right source and he or she will innocently collect it" due to the lack of security features on the affidavit (Nigeria 14 Oct. 2014).
According to the Assistant Superintendent, persons living in rural areas may not know how to obtain a sworn affidavit and "can fall victim [to] a document vendor" (Nigeria 18 Oct. 2014). The Babalakin & Co. representative indicated that persons in rural areas where there are few or no courts can face challenges in obtaining affidavits as there is a lack of availability of persons authorized to administer oaths (15 Oct. 2014).
10. Efforts by Authorities to Prevent Production of Fraudulent Affidavits
The Punch reports that, according to the Chief Registrar of the Ikeja High Court in Lagos, the court has posted public notices against the use of touts and has called in the police to remove them, but as the court is a "public place," there is a limit to what can be done (The Punch 8 Dec. 2012). AllAfrica reported on a 2011 interview with a High Court judge in Lagos who stated that the fraudulent practices at the court involve touts, court clerks and top court officials, and that state efforts to "check" the practice have "not yielded result[s]" (AllAfrica 14 Mar. 2011). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
According to an article by the Daily Times newspaper in Nigeria, the FCT High Court fired six workers in 2011 for their involvement in forging affidavits and declaration of age documents (Daily Times 12 Oct. 2011). The same article reports that, according to the Registrar of the FCT High Court, in an effort to stop the use of "fake forms," the Chief Judge of the High Court had arranged for the printing of "special affidavit forms" with "security markings" which were reportedly "rolled out for all the courts'" (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.
How to Get an Affidavit in Nigeria
An affidavit is a written or printed document that declares or states facts, voluntarily provided by the party and taken before a person authorized by law to administer such an oath or confirmation. Facts in an affidavit are confirmed by the oath.
Process of Affidavits
Before an affidavit is used in any Nigerian court for any purpose, the original document must be filed in the court. Only the original or office copy can be recognized for any purposes. Any affidavit sworn before any judge, officer or other authorized persons can be used in the court in all cases where an affidavit is needed. An affidavit must be signed under the authority of a court judge, magistrate or any other officer authorized to administer oaths.
Any affidavit sworn in any other country before an authorized person such as:
⦁ a judge or magistrate, and authenticated by the official seal of the notary public or court,
⦁ a duly authorized officer in the Nigerian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate in that country, can be used in court in all cases where affidavits are admissible.
As long as an affidavit has the seal or signature of a court, judge, magistrate or another officer, it is considered authentic and can be presented in any court.
TYPES OF AFFIDAVITS
⦁ Affidavits of facts: This is an affidavit filed to bring facts to the attention of a court for authorization
⦁ Affidavits that verify the loss of documents or other property
⦁ Affidavits for a change of name: This is used to declare a change of name
⦁ Affidavit showing declaration of age in place of a birth certificate
⦁ Affidavits that verify good conduct
⦁ Affidavit which state facts in support of cases in court: This is a written deposition on oath in support of cases in court
⦁ Affidavits to verify the loss of vital documents such as birth certificate, death certificate, shares certificate, drivers’ license, vehicle particulars, Identity cards, etc.
AUTHORIZED PERSONS TO ISSUE AND SWEAR AFFIDAVITS
Below is a list of people authorized to issue and swear affidavits in Nigeria:
⦁ Chief Justice of Nigeria
⦁ Justices of the Supreme Court of Nigeria
⦁ President and Justices of the Court of Appeal
⦁ Judges of the Federal High Court
⦁ Notaries Public
⦁ Commissioners for Oaths: These are court officials (court registrars) who are not below grade 7 and designated to administer oaths.
At the state levels in Nigeria, affidavits used for court proceedings can be issued by the
⦁ The Chief Judge of the State
⦁ Judges of the High Court (of the state)
⦁ Notaries Public
⦁ Commissioners for Oaths (Court officials)
The rules and procedures as well as the authorized officials before whom affidavits and oaths may be received are uniform in all Nigerian states.
AFFIDAVITS FOR NON-COURT PROCEEDINGS, OTHERWISE KNOWN AS PRIVATE OR PERSONAL AFFIDAVITS
Private or personal affidavits are those affidavits that are not used in judicial proceedings. A Commissioner for Oaths and a Notary Public are authorized to swear and issue private affidavits (used in non-court proceedings)
HOW TO GET AN AFFIDAVIT IN NIGERIA
According to the Nigerian constitution, below are requirements to obtain an Affidavit:
An affidavit must be signed by the deponent when sworn. If he or she cannot write or is blind, it must be marked by him personally in the presence of the Commissioner for Oaths.
Deponents to an affidavit must appear in person before a Commissioner for Oaths
Deponents to an affidavit are required to state their full name, trade, profession, residence, and nationality
THE PROCEDURE TO OBTAIN A SWORN AFFIDAVIT IS AS FOLLOWS:
The deponent (person who wants to swear an affidavit) will approach either a Commissioner for Oaths at the court or a notary public. Note: Affidavits for court proceedings are sworn by a Commissioner for Oaths.
The deponent is required to pay the requisite fee and is issued a receipt. Note: An affidavit sworn at a court will always be given a receipt.
The notary or Commissioner for Oath must verify the identity of the deponent by checking a passport or national ID card
The Commissioner for Oaths or Notary must verify the facts of the deponent’s statement by asking questions and requesting the deponent to present any other evidence to ascertain the facts
The deponent will then swear to the information and sign the affidavit
The Commissioner for Oaths or Notary is required to sign and seal the affidavit
In summary, affidavits are obtained by simply affirming the contents in the presence of the authorized officials. The deponent goes to the court registry for swearing.
SECURITY FEATURES ON COURT-ISSUED AFFIDAVITS
Although there are no security features on an affidavit and it is almost impossible to determine the authenticity of a document right on the spot, there are certain elements that you can check on an affidavit to know if it is genuine or not.
An affidavit will include the following:
⦁ The signature of the deponent
⦁ The signature of the Commissioner for Oaths/Notary that swore the document
⦁ The seal/stamp of the court/Notary
Every court has its own rubber or plastic seal used on court-issued affidavits. The Commissioner for Oaths will affix the seal of the court to the affidavit, and sign his name at its bottom.
Notary Public-issued affidavits include the following:
⦁ The stamp of the notary that issued the affidavit
⦁ A seal and the name of the Notary Public
⦁ Supreme Court enrolment number