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THE IMPRECISENESS IN PLEADING NON-QUALIFICATION WITHOUT SUFFICIENT PARTICULARS

Dictum

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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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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EVIDENCE ON AVERMENTS NOT IN PLEADINGS GOES TO NO ISSUE

Now, it is now well settled that in civil proceeding commenced at the High Court, parties are bound by their pleadings and any evidence which is at variance with the averments in the pleadings goes to no issue and should be disregarded by the court.

– Oguntade JSC. Ejike v. Onukogu (2005)

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PLEADINGS BOUND PARTIES

Under our law and Rules of Procedure, parties must conduct their cases in accordance with their pleadings.

– Oputa JSC. Oniah v. Onyia (1989)

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PURPOSE OF PLEADINGS IN CIVIL CASES

I have carefully considered the submissions of the parties and the judicial authorities cited. It is trite that adversarial civil litigation is basically fought on pleadings. It is the foundation of the parties’ respective cases. The general principle of law is that such pleadings must sufficiently and comprehensively set out material facts, so as to ascertain with certainty and clarity the matters or issues in dispute between the parties. This is because the purpose of pleadings is to give adequate notice to the adversary of the case he is to meet and to afford him the opportunity to properly respond to such case. Its aim is to bring to the knowledge of the opposite side and the court, all the essential facts. It is therefore a safeguard against the element of surprise. See: SODIPO V LEMMINKAINEN OY & ANOR (1985) LPELR-3088(SC) at page 56, para. F, per Oputa, JSC; ODOM & ORS v PDP & ORS (2015) LPELR-24351(SC); ALHASSAN & ANOR v ISHAKU & ORS (2016) LPELR-40083(SC); and PDP v INEC & 3 ORS (supra).

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

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COURTS ARE BOUND TO DECIDE CASES ON THE PLEADINGS

The foregoing is the gist of the simple case presented before the trial judge. But it was made very complicated by the introduction of legal technicalities at the hearing of the appeal in this Court. The matter was further compounded by the conduct of the parties in that neither, as was disclosed by the issues canvassed before us, had any respect for the truth. However, courts are bound to decide cases on the pleadings of the parties and admissible evidence.

— M. Bello, JSC. Salawu Ajide V. Kadiri Kelani (SC.76/1984, 29 Nov 1985)

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PLEADINGS SHOULD NOT CONTAIN LAW OR MIXED LAW & FACT

It is well settled that every pleading must state facts and not law. A party is not expected to plead conclusions of law or mixed fact and law. However, conclusions of law can be drawn from material facts pleaded. It is also unnecessary to set out in a pleading content of a public statute.

– Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Finnih v. Imade (1992)

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