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GENERAL TRAVERSE – NOT IN POSITION TO DENY

Dictum

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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EVIDENCE ON MATTER NOT PLEADED

It is settled that evidence led on any matter not pleaded goes to no issue and ought to be disregarded when giving judgment. – Kutigi JSC. Amadi v. Nwosu (1992)

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THE STAGE PLEADINGS ARE SETTLED

The respondent, as plaintiff produced exhibits M, M1 photograph and negative to support averment in her pleadings that she is the daughter of L.O. Ukeje (deceased). The defendant/appellant denied the averment in the plaintiff’s pleadings. At that stage pleadings are settled. At trial, if the defendant seeks to disprove the plaintiffs documentary evidence (i.e. exhibits M, M1) which was used to support her claim to being the daughter of the deceased, the defendant is not bound to plead that the plaintiff’s documentary evidence is false, fraudulent or forged. The defendant is to cross-examine him and lead evidence to show beyond reasonable doubt that exhibit M, M1 are forgeries. This the defendants appellants were unable to do.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Ukeje v. Ukeje (2014)

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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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LITIGATION IS FOUGHT ON PLEADINGS

It is trite that litigation, particularly election dispute litigation, is fought on pleadings. Parties swim or sink with their pleadings. In the case of ANYAFULU & ORS V. MEKA & ORS (2014) LPELR 22336 (SC), the Supreme Court Per Kekere Ekun, JSC held that: “Litigation is fought on pleadings. They are the pillars upon which a party’s case is founded. Not only do they give the other side notice of the case they are to meet at the trial, they also define the parameters of the case. In other words, parties are bound by their pleadings. Any evidence led on facts not pleaded goes to no issue while any pleadings in respect of which no evidence is led are deemed abandoned. In effect, where the pleadings are deficient no matter how cogent the evidence led, the case would fail. See: Nwokorobia Vs Nwogu (2009) 10 NWLR (1150) 553; Shell B. P. Vs. Abedi (1974) 1 SC 23; Ebosie Vs. Phil Ebosie (1976) 7 SC 119; George Vs Dominion Flour Mill Ltd. (1963) 1 ALL NLR 71.” See also IFEANYICHUKWU OSONDU CO. LTD & ANOR V. AKHIGBE (1999) LPELR (SC). Those pleadings in Paragraphs 41-42 of the Petition having been abandoned are discountenanced.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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CONFLICTING FACTS CAN BE PLEADED WHERE ALTERNATIVE RELIEFS ARE SOUGHT

As rightly submitted by the Petitioners, the reliefs in this Petition, which I have reproduced at the beginning of this judgment, are undoubtedly sought in the alternative. The settled law is that reliefs can be sought in the alternative and where so sought by a party, he is at liberty to plead conflicting facts in line with the alternative reliefs he has sought. In ADIGHIJE V NWAOGU & ORS (2010) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1209) 419 at 545, paras. E G; (2010) LPELR-4941(CA) at pages 14 – 16, paras. E G, this Court, per Ogunwumiju, JCA (as he then was, now JSC), held that: “…in civil litigation and indeed in election matters, a party can make two seemingly contradictory pleadings leading to two different heads of claim. That is why a petitioner can claim that the election be annulled for reason of substantial non-compliance and in the same breath claim that he won the election by a majority of lawful notes. A petitioner may plead the same set of facts to ground alternative reliefs. Those pleadings are not ipso facto held to be self-contradictory. The Court can only grant one relief as the party must decide which relief is best supported by the evidence on record.” See also: METAL CONSTRUCTION (W.A.) LTD v ABODERIN (1998) LPELR 1868(SC) at pages 26, paras. C E.

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

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PARTIES AND THE COURT ARE BOUND BY THE PLEADINGS AND ISSUES JOINED

It is settled law that issues for trial by the Court are joined in the pleadings and that parties and indeed the Court are bound by the pleadings of the parties. The Petitioners’ case stands to collapse if no evidence is called on the issue. See ORUWARI V. OSLER (2012) LPELR-19764 (SC) and KUBOR & ANOR V. DICKSON & ORS (2012) LPELR-9817 (SC).

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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