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AMENDMENT TAKES EFFECT FROM THE DATE OF COMMENCEMENT OF ACTION

Dictum

In the second place, it is beyond dispute that an amendment relates back to the commencement of a suit. An order of amendment takes effect, not from the date when the amendment is made or granted but from the date of commencement of the action. In other words, once ordered, what stood before amendment is no longer material before the court and no longer defines the issues to be tried. See Grace Amanamhu v. Alexander Okafor and Another (1966) 1 All NLR 205; Warner v. Sampson (1952) 2 WLR 109; Col. Rotimi v. Mc Gregor (1974) 11 SC 133 at 152; Osita Nwosu v. Imo State Environmental Sanitation Authority (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt. 135) 688. Accordingly, having regard to the amendment of the 24th February, 1997, it must be deemed that it was the respondent itself that commenced this action in its own name ab initio and, all arguments relating to whether or not Mr. Okunlola had locus standi at the time he commenced the proceeding as a donee of a Power of Attorney automatically go to no issue.

— Iguh JSC. Vulcan Gases Limited V. Gesellschaft Fur Industries Gasverwertung A.G.(G.I.V.) ( SC.67/1995, 4th May 2001)

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HOW APPLICATIONS FOR AMENDMENTS OF PLEADINGS MAY BE REDUCED

While applications for amendments cannot be totally avoided in the judicial process, they could be reduced to a manageable level, as opposed to the present trend where they are in annoying proliferation. Let me proffer some solutions. And I think they can help to some extent, if not to all extent. Litigants and counsel who do their work diligently will certainly reduce the frequent applications for amendment. So much of it can be avoided if both counsel and his client are intimately involved in pre-trial factual investigations and inquiries before going into litigation and filing their pleadings. Counsel, on his part, can reduce the frequency of applications for amendment if he takes pains during chamber pre-litigation interviews, to ask and seek for relevant information, oral and documentary, from the client. There is also the collateral aspect of the matter and it is this. The client on his part, has a duty to surrender all the facts of the case and I really mean all the facts of the case (including incriminating and exculpating evidence) to his counsel. I say this because one of the basic causes of frequent application for amendment is that some clients are of the habit of dishing out half truths to their counsel or deliberately give facts in installments, only to get stock in open court to the embarrassment of counsel. That is not right. No party has any right to either adulterate the facts of a case or give facts to counsel piece meal.

— Tobi, JCA. Abraham v Olorunfunmi (1990) – CA/L/83/89

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AMENDMENT OF PROCESS CONNOTES CORRECTION OR ADDING

Amendment of Court process connotes a correction of a mistake thereto, or including in it something which was not originally there. It does not envisage putting something on nothing and expecting it to stand. See Adekeye v. Akin-Olugbade (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 60) 214: Afribank (Nig.) PLC v. Akwara (2006) 5 NWLR (Pt. 974) 619.

— J.I. Okoro, JSC. SPDC v Agbara (2019) – SC.731/2017(R)

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DOCUMENT AMENDED DOES NOT MEAN ILLEGAL IPSO FACTO

Waziri Ibrahim v. Shagari (2007) 3 EPR 99 @ 131 where it was again said by the apex court that: “An amended document by itself does not speak of motive behind the amendment. Without more, an altered or amended document is as genuine as an unamended one. Therefore, the admission of Exhibits C to V, the returns from States from which Exhibits B and B1 were collated without any evidence to add a sting to the innocent amendment appearing on some of them offers no help to the case of the appellant. I find myself therefore unable to accept the submission of the learned counsel for the appellant that because returning officers amended and altered the returns in exhibits C to V from 15 States, that fact ipso facto means that the returning officers have not complied with the Sections 65(5), 66, 70 and 119 of the Electoral Act 1982. There must be evidence of indictment or of immoral, unlawful and illegal motive.”

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RULES FOR GRANTING AMENDMENTS ARE FLEXIBLE; IT IS AT THE DISCRETION OF THE JUDGE

The rules for granting amendments of pleadings or proceedings are very flexible and a great deal depends on the discretion of the judge or tribunal. Where there has been no breach of any relevant rule of law in that respect a party opposing the grant of leave to amend such pleadings or proceedings has a rather uneasy task and unless he can establish prejudice, unnecessary expense, irreparable inconvenience or lack of good faith, the hands of the court are free. In the present case, it was not shown and has not been shown to us that the learned trial judge did not properly exercise his discretion to grant leave to amend and we cannot accede to the ground of appeal which complains about this.

— Coker JSC. Shell Bp Petroleum Dev. Co. v. Jammal Engineering (Nigeria) Limited (1974)

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