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

Dictum

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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WHEN APPLICATION TO AMEND PLEADINGS WILL BE REJECTED

The rules for the grant of amendment of pleadings are therefore very flexible and a matter within the discretion of the Judge. Nevertheless, an application to amend pleadings should be refused where: (1) It will entail injustice to the respondent. (2) The applicant is acting mala fide. (3) By his blunder, the applicant has done some injury to the respondent which cannot be compensated by costs or otherwise.

– SANKEY, J.C.A, Awure v. Iledu (2007)

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PLEADINGS ARE TO CONTAIN THE MATERIAL FACTS, NOT THE LEGAL RESULT

Lord Denning in Re Vandervell s Trusts (No.2) (supra): “Mr. Balcanbe for the executors stressed that the point taken by Mr. Mills was ‘not covered by the pleadings. He said time and again: This way of putting the case was not pleaded. No such trust was pleaded.” And so forth. The more he argued, the more technical he became. I began to think we were back in the bad old days before the Common Law Procedure Acts 1852 and 1854, when pleadings had to state the legal result; and a case could be lost by the omission of a single averment. See Bullen and Leake’s precedent of pleadings, 3rd ed. (1868), P. 147. All that has been long swept away. It is sufficient for the pleader to state the material facts. He need not state the legal result. If, for convenience, he does so, he is not bound by, or limited to, what he has stated. He can present in argument any legal consequence of which the facts permit. The pleadings in this case contained all material facts. It does not appear that Mr. Mills put the case before the Judge; but this does not entail any difference in the facts only a difference in stating the legal consequences. So it was quite open to him.”

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AVERMENTS IN PLEADINGS WITHOUT EVIDENCE TO SUBSTANTIATE ARE USELESS

Mere averments in pleadings, no matter how impressive they may be are useless if no evidence is led to prove them. Such averments in the pleadings unless, they are admitted, are regarded as mere suggestions of counsel and if they are not proved by evidence of witnesses are deemed to have been abandoned. [Adegbite v. Ogunfaolu (1990) 4 NW1,11 (Pt.146) 578; Balogun v. Amubikanhun (1985) 3 NWLR(Pt.11)27; Obmiami BrickAND Stone (Nig.) Ltd. v. A.C.B. Ltd. (1992) 3 NWLR (Pt.229) 260;Ayeniv. Sowemimo (1982) 5 SC 60; Idesoh v. Ordia (1997) 3 NWLR (Pt.491) 17 referred to].

— Adeyemo v. Ida & Ors. (1998) – CA/1/6/92

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ALLEGATIONS RAISED MUST BE SPECIFICALLY DENIED TO NOT CONSTITUTE ADMITTANCE

On the manner of denial that would be sufficient to raise an issue of dispute, this Court held, in the case of Nickok Best Intl Ltd v UBA (2018) LPELR – 45239 (CA) per Mohammed Lawal Garba JCA (as he then was) at Page 9 Para B-E: “Where vital and material fact/s in a party’s case are not so specifically, frontally and categorically denied and disputed, they are deemed admitted by the other party. Dosunmu v. Dada (2002) 13 NWLR (783), NNPC v. Sele (2004) 5 NWLR (866) 379, Jadcom Limited v. OgunsElectrs (2004) 3 NWLR (859) 153. In that regard, general, obtuse, indistinct, unspecific and evasive averments in respect of specific, crucial, positive and distinct facts are considered not enough and not effective controversion or traverse to raise an issue of dispute that would warrant proof in a case”.

— O. Adefope-Okojie, JCA. Kanu v FRN (2022) – CA/ABJ/CR/625/2022

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PLEADING IS THE LIFE WIRE OF PROCEEDING IN ADVERSARIAL SYSTEM

Pleading is the life wire of the proceeding in our adversorial system of civil jurisprudence – the main function of which is to focus with much certainty as far as possible the various matters actually in dispute amongst the parties and those in which there is agreement between the parties by avoiding element of surprise being sprung on the opposite party. George v. U.B.A. Ltd. (1972) 8-9 SC 264; Oduka v. Kasumu (1968) NMLR 28; George v. Dominion Flour Mills Ltd. (1963) 1 SCNLR 117.

— O.O. Adekeye, JCA. Omotunde v. Omotunde (2000) – CA/I/M.57/2000

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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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