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COURTS MUST BE GUIDED BY PLEADINGS

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Both courts must be fully guided by the pleadings, which in this case are the petition and the replies. If a witness gives oral evidence on what is not pleaded in either the petition or the reply, the evidence will be of no probative value based on the principle of law that parties are bound by their pleadings. If evidence is not led on a fact pleaded in either the petition or the reply the fact will be deemed to have been abandoned unless the fact was admitted by the adverse party. This is because pleadings have no mouth to talk and need human being with mouth and sense to articulate them in court. This principle of law will not apply where the particular pleading is admitted.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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PLEADING IS THE LIFE WIRE OF PROCEEDING IN ADVERSARIAL SYSTEM

Pleading is the life wire of the proceeding in our adversorial system of civil jurisprudence – the main function of which is to focus with much certainty as far as possible the various matters actually in dispute amongst the parties and those in which there is agreement between the parties by avoiding element of surprise being sprung on the opposite party. George v. U.B.A. Ltd. (1972) 8-9 SC 264; Oduka v. Kasumu (1968) NMLR 28; George v. Dominion Flour Mills Ltd. (1963) 1 SCNLR 117.

— O.O. Adekeye, JCA. Omotunde v. Omotunde (2000) – CA/I/M.57/2000

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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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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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PLEADINGS SHOULD BE CONCISE PRESENTATION OF FACTS

Para. 12: “The court reiterates that the pleadings should be confined to a concise and precise presentation of facts and brief summary of evidence in support including references to documents. All arguments shall be reserved for the oral phase of the proceedings. Reference is hereby made to Articles 33 and 35 of the Court’s Rules of Procedure.”

— Saidykhan v GAMBIA (2010) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/08/10

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SOME PRINCIPLES OF PLEADINGS

It is for the above position of the law that I bear in mind that issue of facts on which the parties are ad idem would require no further proof and are taken as having been duly established. It is also the law that facts admitted by either party of the averments of the other party also need no further proof. It is equally well accepted that facts in a pleading of one party which are not specifically traversed but are generally or evasively traversed are also deemed as having been admitted by the other party. It is basic but a fundamental principle of law that parties are bound by their pleadings. See also Hashidu v. Goje 2 EPR P. 790 @ p. 836. See also Oversea Construction Company Nig. Ltd. v. Creek Enterprises Nig. Ltd(1985) 3 NWLR (Pt. 407) 40; Adesoji Aderemi v. Adedire (1966) NMLR 398; Nnameka Emegokwue v. James Okadigbo (1973) 4 SC 113; Woluchem v. Gudi (1981) 5 SC 291; Iwuoha v. NIPOST (2003) 8 NWLR (Pt. 822) 308; Akpapuna and Ors v. Obi Nzeka and Ors (1983) 2 SCNLR 1, (1983) 7 SC 1; Omoboriowo v. Ajasin EPR (Vol 3) 488 @ 511; Iniama v. Akpabio (2008) 17 NWLR (Pt. 1116) 225 @ p. 309.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

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FOUR REASONS WHY AMENDMENT OF PLEADINGS MAY ARISE

Amendments arise because of a number of reasons. I can identify four main reasons here. First, at the time of filing the pleadings, the factual situation sought to be amended was not available or if available was not within the reasonable anticipation of the party and his counsel, employing all diligence and intellectual resources at their command. Second, although the factual situation sought to be amended existed at the time the pleadings were filed, human idiosyncrasies, human lapses and human frailties resulted in its non-inclusion. This could either be the fault of the party or counsel or both. . Third, when there is a Reply to either the Statement of Claim or the Statement of Defence. Four, when the court suo motu raises a factual situation. Since this last reason is not consistent with our adversary system, a trial Judge should only resort to it when it is absolutely necessary so to do and in the overall interest of the parties. He cannot do so willy nilly and by his whims.

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

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