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PARTIES ARE BOUND BY THEIR PLEADINGS AND CANNOT MAKE OUT A DIFFERENT CASE

Dictum

The law is trite and held as very elementary that parties are bound by their pleadings and cannot make out a different case on appeal which is alien to that stated at the trial Court. The observation in that respect was rightly made by the lower Court and I so endorse.

— C.B. Ogunbiyi, JSC. Ibrahim v. Obaje (2017) – SC.60/2006

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FACT ADMITTED WHERE NO DENIAL

It is still the law that where a defendant fails to deny specifically an allegation of fact in the Statement of Claim and a denial cannot be reasonably inferred from the defendant’s pleadings that fact will be taken as admitted and therefore regarded as established at the hearing without further proof.

– Onnoghen JCA. Union Bank v. Akinrinmade (1999)

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ESSENCE OF PLEADINGS

The essence of pleadings is to narrow down the issues in controversy and serves as a notice to the other party which is intended to alert him on what the party filing it intends to rely on to prove his case or to defend a cause. A party to an action is expected to plead material facts only. Pleadings therefore is never meant to substitute evidence required to prove the facts unless such facts are admitted by the other party. See Adegbite v. Ogunfaotu (1990) 4 NWLR (Pt. 146) 578. Okafoi v. UBN Plc (2000) 3 NWLR (Pt. 647) 42.

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

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PARTIES BOUND BY PLEADINGS – EVIDENCE NOT PLEADED

It is elementary law that parties are bound by their pleadings and facts not pleaded will go to no issue. In other words, evidence on facts not pleaded will not avail the party relying on the evidence.

– Niki Tobi JSC. Okonkwo v. Cooperative Bank (2003)

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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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THE PRIMARY PURPOSE OF PLEADINGS IN A TRIAL

The primary purpose of pleadings is to prepare the minds of the parties and the Court to know the case to be presented at the trial by each party, and to define and delimit with clarity and precision the real matters in controversy between the parties upon which to prepare and present their respective cases. It is designed to bring the parties to an issue upon which the Court will adjudicate between them. See Kyari v. Alkali (2001) 11 NWLR (Pt.724) 412 at 433-434 paras. H-A. It is therefore of utmost importance that both parties be comprehensive and accurate in their pleadings. In that regard, a plaintiff’s averment of facts must be met by the defendant frontally and categorically. The essential averments in the statement of claim should be specifically traversed. In order to raise any issue of fact, there must be a proper traverse; and a traverse must be made either by a clear denial or non-admission, either expressly or by necessary implication. A denial of a very material allegation of fact must not be general or evasive, but specific. Therefore, every allegation of fact, if not denied specifically or by necessary implication shall be taken as admitted and established. Putting it in a different way, where a party fails to join issues on material averments, he is deemed to have conceded the points made in those averments. They are deemed admitted and need no further proof to establish the facts contained in the pleading. See Ekperanisho v. Aloko (2015) 14 NWLR (Pt.1475) 153; Salzgitter Stahi GMBH v. Tanji Dosunmu Industries Ltd. (2010) NSCQR 1085 (2010) 11 NWLR (Pt.1206) 589. See Ekwealor v. Obasi (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt.131) 231 at 251, Oshodi v. Eyifunmi (2000) 13 NWLR (Pt.654) 298 at 337.

— T. Akomolafe-Wilson, JCA. Alabi v Audu (2017) – CA/A/494/2014

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PARTIES AND THE COURT ARE BOUND BY THE PLEADINGS AND ISSUES JOINED

It is settled law that issues for trial by the Court are joined in the pleadings and that parties and indeed the Court are bound by the pleadings of the parties. The Petitioners’ case stands to collapse if no evidence is called on the issue. See ORUWARI V. OSLER (2012) LPELR-19764 (SC) and KUBOR & ANOR V. DICKSON & ORS (2012) LPELR-9817 (SC).

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Atiku v PDP (CA/PEPC/05/2023, 6th of September, 2023)

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