X-Raying the Legal Effect of An Unsigned Written Address -By Caroline Ladidi Anze-Bishop Esq, Nec Rep Bukuru Branch
N.C. ANGUS (W/A) LTD. & ORS. vs. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA(2021)LCN/14988(CA) provides the examination slab for the legal probe thereto, to wit: Whether an unsigned written address has the effect of rendering an originating process incompetent(emphasis mine)
“The traditional function of a signature is to permanently affix to a document a person’s uniquely personal undeniable self identification as physical evidence of that person’s personal witness and certification of the content of all or a specific part of the document. In other words, it authenticates a writing or provides notice of its source and binds the individual signing the writing by the provisions contained in the document. See M.C.C. (NIG.) LTD. V. COSEDA (NIG.) LTD. (2018)11 NWLR (Prt.1629) 47. A signature on a document identifies the document as an act of a particular person and without a signature the document will pass as the act of an unnamed person and it is therefore useless.
Learned Counsel for the Appellants has submitted and I agree with his submission that an incompetent originating process cannot give rise to competent proceedings. The question then, is the written address an originating process? The answer is obviously no; the originating process is the motion on notice and not the accompanying written address. The purpose of an address on the other hand is to demonstrate to the Court and Counsel for the adversary his opinion of the facts and the law as shown by the evidence before the Court. Thus, notwithstanding its brilliance, it can never be a substitute for evidence. See OMISORE V. AREGBESOLA & ORS. (2015) LPELR–24803 (SC).
In the instant case, the material evidence in proof or defence to the Respondent’s motion was the affidavit in support or against the application and certainly not the accompanying written address. Thus, the failure to address or sign same will not be fatal or cause a miscarriage of justice. Even though the absence of signature renders the Respondent’s written address useless but that will not affect the validity of the motion on notice which in the circumstance, is the originating process. The first issue is therefore resolved against the appellants.” Per SHUAIBU, JCA.
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