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AMENDMENT OF PLEADINGS – PARTY WILL NOT BE DISALLOWED

Dictum

Let me pause here to say one or two words on amendment of pleadings. Amendment of pleadings is part of the judicial process and we cannot run away from it. We cannot even avoid it. The courts are mostly receptive to applications for amendment. They accommodate applications for amendment most of the time. Apart from the understandably relaxed and accommodating nature of our adjectival Law on the issue, courts of law, by their nature and institutional upbringing are reluctant and loath to shut their gates against willing litigants midstream in the presentation of their claims and rights in terms of available facts. Since that is not consistent with the basic rules of fair hearing and natural justice, the courts, in most cases, grant applications for amendment of pleadings.

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

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FOUR REASONS WHY AMENDMENT OF PLEADINGS MAY ARISE

Amendments arise because of a number of reasons. I can identify four main reasons here. First, at the time of filing the pleadings, the factual situation sought to be amended was not available or if available was not within the reasonable anticipation of the party and his counsel, employing all diligence and intellectual resources at their command. Second, although the factual situation sought to be amended existed at the time the pleadings were filed, human idiosyncrasies, human lapses and human frailties resulted in its non-inclusion. This could either be the fault of the party or counsel or both. . Third, when there is a Reply to either the Statement of Claim or the Statement of Defence. Four, when the court suo motu raises a factual situation. Since this last reason is not consistent with our adversary system, a trial Judge should only resort to it when it is absolutely necessary so to do and in the overall interest of the parties. He cannot do so willy nilly and by his whims.

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

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GENERAL TRAVERSE IS NOT AN EFFECTIVE DENIAL

A general traverse is not an effective denial of essential or material averments in the opposing party’s pleading. – Kekere-Ekun, J.S.C. Union Bank v. Chimaeze (2014)

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GENERAL TRAVERSE – NOT IN POSITION TO DENY

In law, an issue of fact on which the parties are ad idem or on which the adverse party did not effectively traverse are deemed to have been admitted and would thus require no further proof as they are taken as having been duly established. A general traverse or averment that a party is not in position to either admit or deny an allegation made by the other party does not amount to effective denial as to put such a fact in issue to be proved by the party so alleging. See paragraph 34 of the Statement of claim of the 1st 4th Respondents. See also paragraph 3 of the Statement of defence of the Appellant.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

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MATTERS NOT PLEADED GOES TO NO ISSUE

At the trial, a party is bound by the pleadings and shall not be permitted to set up a different case. It is not open to a party to depart from his pleadings and put up an entirely new case. Matters not pleaded go to no issue and should not be admitted in evidence and, if admitted, should be ignored or discountenanced in the absence of an amendment of the pleadings. See Njoku and others v. Eme and others (1973) 5 S.c. 293; Okafor and others v. Okitiakpe (1973) 2 SC 49; EmegokWue v. Okadigho (1973) 4 SC.113 etc.

— Iguh, JSC. Onamade v ACB (1997) – SC.199/1990

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STATEMENT OF CLAIM, NOT DEFENCE, IS LOOKED AT TO DETERMINE COURT JURISDICTION

In a long line of decided authorities, it is now firmly settled that it is the Statement of Claim that is looked at in determining whether or not, a court has jurisdiction to entertain and determine any suit or matter and not at the defence. (See Chief Adeyemi & others v Opevori (1976) 9-10 SC 31; The Attorney-General, Anambra State & 13 others v The Attorney-General of the Federation & 16 others (1994) 3 NWLR (Part 335) 659; (1994) 4 SCNJ 30). — Ogbuagu JSC. AG Kano State v AG Federation (2007) – SC 26/2006

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PARTIES ARE BOUND BY THEIR PLEADINGS

It must be remembered that it is a cardinal principle of the Rules of Practice that parties are bound by their pleadings and evidence led on matters not pleaded goes to no issue. Furthermore, any fact admitted in a party’s pleadings, need not be proved by the other party.

— Craig JSC. Uredi v. Dada (1998) – SC.106/1986

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