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PLEADINGS MUST BE SUFFICIENTLY SPECIFIC AND COMPREHENSIVE TO ELICIT NECESSARY ANSWER

Dictum

✓ In BELGORE v AHMED (2013) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1355) 60 at 95 – 96, the complaint against the averments in the petition was that they were unspecific, generic, speculative, vague, unreferable, omnibus and general in terms. In that case the Apex Court specifically held as follows: “Pleadings in an action are the written statements of the parties wherein they set forth the summary of the material facts on which each relied in proof of his claim or his defence as the case may be and by means of which the real matters was (sic) controversy between the parties and to be adjudicated upon are clearly identified. Although only material facts are required to be pleaded and in a summary form, they must nevertheless be sufficiently specific and comprehensive to elicit the necessary answers from the opponent. See Ashiru Noibi v. Fikolati & Ors (1987) 3 SC 105 at 119, (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt. 52) 629 and Omorhirihi v. Enetevwere (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt. 73) 746. They must contain such details as to eliminate any element of surprise to the opposing party. In this case where the dispute involves the election in as many as 895 polling units, the pleading in the petition which alleged electoral malpractices, non-compliance and/or offences in “some polling units”, “many polling units”, “most polling units” or “several polling units” cannot be said to have met the requirements of pleadings as stipulated in paragraph 4(1)(d) of the 1st Schedule to the Electoral Act and/or Order 13 Rules 4(1), 5 and 6(1) of the Federal High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules, 2009.”

✓ Also, in PDP v INEC & 3 ORS (2012) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1300) 538, the Apex Court, was also categorical when it held thus: “On whether the affected paragraphs were rightly struck out, I have read the affected paragraphs and found that they relate to allegations of non-voting in several polling points, disruption of election, non-conclusion of election, thumb-printing of ballot papers, falsification of election results, wide spread disruption, irregularities and malpractices without providing particulars or the polling units where the alleged malpractices took place. The lower court was therefore right when it held as follows: “The paragraphs above in my view are too generic, vague and lacking in any particulars as they are not tied specifically to any particular polling unit or any particular number of people who were alleged to be disenfranchised. The fact that a party can file further particulars or deny in a reply the averment in the pleading must not be general, it must be specific as to facts. It is settled law that a petitioner’s obligation to plead particulars of fraud or falsification without which the allegation is a non-starter.” I have nothing to add to this statement of law as advanced above, and I adopt it as mine.”

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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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CRIME MUST BE SPECIFICALLY PLEADED

Crime as an offence punishable by law must be specifically pleaded and proved. – Niki Tobi JSC. Okonkwo v. Cooperative Bank (2003)

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FAILURE TO PLEAD RELEVANT FACTS DEFEATS THE CLAIM

Pleadings just like other civil claims is a prerequisite to the establishment of a claim and in this case negligence. Failure to plead relevant facts would automatically defeat the claim. The Respondent failed to do the needful and therefore did not merit to have judgment, I therefore agree with my brother that the appeal is meritorious and succeeds.

– Nimpar JCA. Diamond Bank v. Mocok (2019)

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FOREIGN LAW IS A QUESTION OF FACT TO BE PLEADED

In the case of PEENOK INVESTMENTS LTD. v. HOTEL PRESIDENTIAL (1982) 12 SC (REPRINT) the Supreme Court per A.G. IRIKEFE JSC stated that as a general proposition of law, foreign law is a question of fact which should be pleaded and proved in a trial Court.

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THE COURT AND PARTIES ARE BOUND BY THE PLEADINGS

I have to state from the onset that it is settled law that issues for trial are joined in the pleadings and that parties and indeed the court are bound by the pleadings of the parties.

— Onnoghen, JSC. Kubor v. Dickson (2012) – SC.369/2012

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THE IMPRECISENESS IN PLEADING NON-QUALIFICATION WITHOUT SUFFICIENT PARTICULARS

It must be noted, too, that under Section 131 of the 1999 Constitution of this country, there are as many as four different qualifications a person must possess before he can contest presidential election and another 10 different grounds that can disqualify such a candidate who has all the four qualifications of section 131. Therefore, an assertion that merely says that a person is not qualified to contest election by reason of non qualification, will leave not just the person so assailed but every other person involved, including the court, at a loss as to what the pleader has in mind. In fact, to allow such pleading will amount to upsetting the very essence of filing pleadings in a case, which is to give the adversary and the court a clear notice of the pleader’s case a point further fortified in Paragraph 16(1)(a) of the First Schedule to the Electoral Act 2022.

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

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