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COURTS ARE BOUND TO DECIDE CASES ON THE PLEADINGS

Dictum

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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PARAGRAPHS IN PLEADINGS READ TOGETHER

Paragraphs in pleadings are not read in isolation but read together to obtain the total story of the parties. – Niki Tobi JSC. Okonkwo v. Cooperative Bank (2003)

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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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NATURE OF PROOF OF PLEADINGS

It must be appreciated that there cannot be a better notice of a case a party intends to make than his pleading. It is a mere notice and can never be substituted for the evidence required in proof of the facts pleaded, subject however to an admission made by the other party. Unless through skilful cross-examination discrediting the case of the other party, he is still bound to lead evidence in support of his own pleading. Where evidence is adduced to buttress a pleading, then it is good news for the pleader, as it strengthens his case. However, evidence adduced in support of facts not pleaded goes to no issue and should therefore be disregarded ORIZU V. ONYAEGBUNAM 1978.5 S.C. 21 at 820. In ACB V. GWAGWALADA 1994. 5 NWLR Part 342 page 25 at 27 it was held that before considering admissibility of any evidence or document in support of a party’s case it must be shown that the evidence sought to be led is relevant. Even if the evidence is admissible and it is not relevant, the admission of such evidence does not advance the case of the party.

— A. Jauro, JCA. Chevron v. Aderibigbe (2011) – CA/L/76/04

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AVERMENTS IN PLEADINGS NOT ADMITTED MUST BE PROVED

An averment in pleadings is not and has never been considered as legal evidence unless the same has been admitted by the other side to the litigation. Accordingly an averment which is not admitted must be proved or established by evidence. An averment of a material fact in pleadings which is denied but is not established by evidence is worthless and must be discountenanced. In a sense, such an averment may in law be rightly regarded as abandoned. (See generally on the above, Akinfosile v. Ijose (1960) 5 F.S.C. 192; (1960) SCNLR 447; Muraina Akanmu v. Adigun (1993) 7 NWLR (Pt.304) 218 at 231; Obmiami Brick and Stone Ltd v. A.C.B. Ltd (1992) 3 NWLR (Pt.229) 260 at 293 and Anyah v. A.N.N Ltd. (1992) 6 NWLR (Pt.247) 319 at 331.)

– Iguh, JSC. Magnusson v. Koiki (1993) – SC.119/1991

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EVIDENCE ON MATTER NOT PLEADED

It is settled that evidence led on any matter not pleaded goes to no issue and ought to be disregarded when giving judgment. – Kutigi JSC. Amadi v. Nwosu (1992)

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WHERE THERE IS VARIANCE IN PLEADINGS AND THE EVIDENCE, THE ACTION IS BOUND TO FAIL

It is clear from the foregoing that the claim of the plaintiffs as disclosed in the writ of summons and statement of claim was not supported by the evidence of the trial. It is well settled law that parties are bound by their pleadings. Where there is variance between the claim the pleadings and evidence, the action is bound to fail- See Ogiamen v. Ogiamen (1967) NMLR. 245.

— A.G. Karibi-Whyte, JSC. Olowosago V. Adebanjo (SC.134/86, 29 Sep 1988)

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