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NO CLAIM NO AWARD BY COURT

Dictum

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

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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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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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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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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COUNTER CLAIM – BE RELATED TO THE PRINCIPAL CLAIM

A counter claim to quote from Bairamien, JSC in Oyegbola v. Esso WA (1966) 1 All NLR 170 is a weapon of offence which enables a defendant to enforce a claim against the plaintiff as effectively as in an independent action. The counter-claim must be directly related to the principal claim but not outside of and independent of the subject matter of the claim. – Niki Tobi JSC. Okonkwo v. Cooperative Bank (2003)

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DEFECT IN STATEMENT OF CLAIM DOES NOT MAKE THE SUIT A NULLITY, BUT THE MERE STRIKING OUT OF THE STATEMENT OF CLAIM

A Statement of Claim is not an originating process. It is a process filed subsequent to the Writ of Summons. In the Statement of Claim, the claimant or plaintiff articulates the allegations of facts for the defendant to answer. Without the Statement of Claim, there would be no allegation of facts for the defendant to answer. Thus, issues cannot be joined on any matters and therefore nothing for the Court to try: Fidelis Nwadialo: Civil Procedure in Nigeria, 2nd Ed. Page 442. A defect in the Statement of Claim results not in the striking out of the suit for being a nullity. Rather, it is only the offensive Statement of Claim, as a process or the part or portion thereof of the process that the defendant timeously takes steps to strike out. A defect in the settlement of the Statement of Claim or the Statement of Claim itself is generally regarded as a mere irregularity. The authors of the Supreme Court Practice 1979 [The White Book 1979 – English] opined in paragraph 18/9/1 at page 311 thereof and I agree “that every pleading which offend the rules will be struck out. The applicant must show that he is in some way prejudiced by the Irregularity”. They further opined in paragraph 18/9/2 ibid – Where the Statement of Claim is being attacked, the application may be made before the defence is served [A – G of DUCHY OF LANCASTER V.L. and N.W.L.R. (1892) 2 Ch. 274]. In other words, the objection must be made timeously before the defence is served; otherwise, the objection is deemed to have been waived or compromised.

— Ejembi Eko, JSC. Bakari v. Ogundipe (2020) – SC.514/2015

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