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TERMS OF SETTLEMENT MUST RELATE TO PLAINTIFFS CLAIM BEFORE IT CAN BE ENFORCED

Dictum

I respectfully share the same view with the learned counsel for the 2nd – 14th respondents that jurisdiction of the court to enter judgment in accordance with the terms of settlement reached by parties is circumscribed by the claims filed before the court. If the terms of settlement are not within the purview of the plaintiff’s claim, it will be difficult for the court to allow filling of the terms, which will form the basis of the court judgment. The judgment of the court must reflect the claims before the court. This is so because it is a well settled principle that the court has no jurisdiction to grant a relief that has not been claimed.

— S. Galadima, JCA. Jadesimi & Anor. v. Egbe (2003)

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GENERAL TRAVERSE IS NOT ADMISSIBLE AS EFFECTIVE DENIAL OF ALLEGATIONS

It has long been settled that the general traverse or general denial usually contained in the first paragraph of every statement of defence as in the instant case, which has earlier been quoted above, is not admissible as effective denial of essential and material allegations in the statement of claim. Such essential materials, as averments concerning the root of title of the claimant should be specifically traversed. See Akintola v. Solano (1986) 2 NWLR (Pt.24) 598, Balogun v. UBA (1992) 7 SCNJ 61, Ajibulu v. Ajayi (2013) 56 NSCQR 471, UBN v. Chimaeze (2014) 58 NSCQR 155 at 188 … The general denial in paragraph 2 of the statement of defence also does not amount to a positive denial in law. It is devoid of joining issue on the material important pleading, upon which the respondent lays claim to the property in dispute. By the established rules of pleadings, the respondent is therefore deemed to have admitted the averments. One of the functions of pleadings is to afford parties in the case adequate notice of the nature of their respective cases to each other; thereby circumscribing and fixing issues in respect of which they are in agreement and those in which they are contesting. In as much as the appellant failed to controvert the relevant pleadings of the respondent on the issue of custom of inheritance, it is deemed that there is no controversy between them on the issue of inheritance under Ebira Native Law and Custom. It is taken as having been established and needs no further proof. See Section 123 of the Evidence Act, 2011 as amended; National Investment v. Thompson Organizations and Ors (1969) 1 NMLR 99 at 103, Uredi v. Dada (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt.69) 237 S.C Jacobson Eng. Ltd. v. UBA Ltd. (1993) 3 NWLR (Pt.283) 586.

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

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NO CLAIM NO AWARD BY COURT

And no court has the power to award to a party what he has not claimed. – Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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WHEN MAIN CLAIM IS GRANTED, ALTERNATIVE CLAIM CANNOT BE GRANTED

When a party as in this case, the Plaintiff/1st Respondent made claims the in alternative, she is saying that she wants either of her reliefs. So any of the claims granted suffices for the purpose of satisfying her claim. When a Court grants the main claim, the alternative claim would no longer be considered. When the main claim fails, the alternative claim must be considered, and if found proved the Court should grant it as the Court of Appeal did in this Appeal.

— O. Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Bakari v. Ogundipe (2020) – SC.514/2015

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CLAIM NOT ASKED FOR

It is trite law that the Court should not grant what was not asked for or claimed by a party to an action. – Uwaifo JSC. Ekpanya v. Akpan (1988)

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A REPLY TO STATEMENT OF DEFENCE MUST NOT CONTAIN ANY NEW CLAIM

Adeniji v. Fetuga (1990) 5 WLR (Pt. 150) 375 this Court per Akanbi J.C.A. (as he then was) held thus:- “A reply is the Plaintiff’s answer or response to any issue raised by the Defendant in his defence and which the Plaintiff seeks to challenge, deny or admit or object to either or ground of law or a mis-statement of the cause of action and it is not permissible in a reply to the defence to raise a new cause of action not set out in the writ of summons, for a Plaintiff must not in his reply make any allegation of fact or raise any new ground of claim different from what is contained in his statement of claim.”

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PARTY CANNOT BE GRANTED WHAT HE DID NOT CLAIM

In this regard, the law is long and well settled that where a plaintiff claims, say, a declaration of title to land or whatever, and his claim is dismissed, it will be wrong to grant the declaration to the defendant if he did not ask for it by way of counter-claim. See: Ntiaro v. Akpam 3 N.L.R. 10; Abisi v. Ekwealor (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt. 302) 643 etc. As has been pointed out repeatedly by this and other courts, courts of law are no father Christmas and they must not grant to a party a relief which he has not sought or claimed or which is more than he has claimed. see: Ekpenyong v. Nyong (1975) 2 S.C. 71 at 81-82.

– Iguh JSC. Awoniyi v. AMORC (2000)

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