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FOUR REASONS WHY AMENDMENT OF PLEADINGS MAY ARISE

Dictum

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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PARAGRAPHS OF PLEADINGS NOT SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE WILL BE ABANDONED

It is settled law that a party will only be permitted to call evidence to support his pleadings and evidence which is contrary to his pleadings must be ignored or expunged when considering the case (see for example The National Investment & Properties Co. Ltd. v. The Thompson Organisation Ltd & Ors. (1969) NMLR 99. Where also a party’s pleadings is not supported by evidence, those paragraphs of the pleadings will certainly be deemed to have been abandoned (see Alhaji Bala & Ors v. Mrs. Bankole (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt.27) 141).

– Kutigi JSC. Magnusson v. Koiki (1993) – SC.119/1991

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FACT ADMITTED WHERE NO DENIAL

It is still the law that where a defendant fails to deny specifically an allegation of fact in the Statement of Claim and a denial cannot be reasonably inferred from the defendant’s pleadings that fact will be taken as admitted and therefore regarded as established at the hearing without further proof.

– Onnoghen JCA. Union Bank v. Akinrinmade (1999)

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A PARTY IS BOUND HIS PLEADING – PURPOSE OF PLEADINGS – A COURT ONLY GIVES TO A PARTY WHAT HE CLAIMS

A party is bound by his pleading at the trial and cannot make a case different from this pleadings. This is because the object of pleading is to appraise the opposing party of the case the pleader is making so as to avoid any surprise at the hearing and to ascertain the issue or issues in controversy between the parties with a view to enabling each party settle before hand, the evidence it shall adduce at the hearing. Similarly, a court only gives to a party what he claims by way of pleading. In this case the trial court was right in not declaring Exhibits 1 and D1 null and void as this fact was not pleaded by the appellant. [Olaopa v. O.A.U. Ile-Ife (1997) 7 NWLR (Pt. 512) 204 at page 225;Aderenii v. Adedire (1966) NMLR 398; A. C. 8. Ltd v. A. G. Northern Nigeria (1967) NMLR 231; Albion Const. Co. Ltd v. Rao Invest. AND Pro. Ltd (1992) 1 NWLR (Pt. 219) 583; Bakare v. L.S.C.C. (1992)8NWLR(Pt.262)641;Balogun v. Oshunkoya (1992) 3 NWLR (Pt. 232) 827]

– L.A. Ayanlere v. Federal Mortgage Bank of Nig. Ltd. (1998) – CA/K/186/96

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COURT TO DETERMINE CASE BASED ON THE PLEADINGS

There is no gainsaying the settled principle of law to the effect that the Court is bound to determine the case before it, as made out by the pleadings of the parties, particularly the Claimant’s or Plaintiff’s cause of action.

– Tukur JCA. Odulate v. FBN (2019)

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SOME PRINCIPLES OF PLEADINGS

It is for the above position of the law that I bear in mind that issue of facts on which the parties are ad idem would require no further proof and are taken as having been duly established. It is also the law that facts admitted by either party of the averments of the other party also need no further proof. It is equally well accepted that facts in a pleading of one party which are not specifically traversed but are generally or evasively traversed are also deemed as having been admitted by the other party. It is basic but a fundamental principle of law that parties are bound by their pleadings. See also Hashidu v. Goje 2 EPR P. 790 @ p. 836. See also Oversea Construction Company Nig. Ltd. v. Creek Enterprises Nig. Ltd(1985) 3 NWLR (Pt. 407) 40; Adesoji Aderemi v. Adedire (1966) NMLR 398; Nnameka Emegokwue v. James Okadigbo (1973) 4 SC 113; Woluchem v. Gudi (1981) 5 SC 291; Iwuoha v. NIPOST (2003) 8 NWLR (Pt. 822) 308; Akpapuna and Ors v. Obi Nzeka and Ors (1983) 2 SCNLR 1, (1983) 7 SC 1; Omoboriowo v. Ajasin EPR (Vol 3) 488 @ 511; Iniama v. Akpabio (2008) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1116) 225 @ p. 309.

— 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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THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF PLEADINGS IN A TRIAL

The primary purpose of pleadings is to prepare the minds of the parties and the Court to know the case to be presented at the trial by each party, and to define and delimit with clarity and precision the real matters in controversy between the parties upon which to prepare and present their respective cases. It is designed to bring the parties to an issue upon which the Court will adjudicate between them. See Kyari v. Alkali (2001) 11 NWLR (Pt.724) 412 at 433-434 paras. H-A. It is therefore of utmost importance that both parties be comprehensive and accurate in their pleadings. In that regard, a plaintiff’s averment of facts must be met by the defendant frontally and categorically. The essential averments in the statement of claim should be specifically traversed. In order to raise any issue of fact, there must be a proper traverse; and a traverse must be made either by a clear denial or non-admission, either expressly or by necessary implication. A denial of a very material allegation of fact must not be general or evasive, but specific. Therefore, every allegation of fact, if not denied specifically or by necessary implication shall be taken as admitted and established. Putting it in a different way, where a party fails to join issues on material averments, he is deemed to have conceded the points made in those averments. They are deemed admitted and need no further proof to establish the facts contained in the pleading. See Ekperanisho v. Aloko (2015) 14 NWLR (Pt.1475) 153; Salzgitter Stahi GMBH v. Tanji Dosunmu Industries Ltd. (2010) NSCQR 1085 (2010) 11 NWLR (Pt.1206) 589. See Ekwealor v. Obasi (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt.131) 231 at 251, Oshodi v. Eyifunmi (2000) 13 NWLR (Pt.654) 298 at 337.

— T. Akomolafe-Wilson, JCA. Alabi v Audu (2017) – CA/A/494/2014

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