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PARTIES BOUND BY PLEADINGS – EVIDENCE NOT PLEADED

Dictum

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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SETTLED PRINCIPLES WHICH GUIDE THE COURT WHETHER TO ADMIT FRESH EVIDENCE

As rightly submitted by learned counsel for both parties, there are settled principles, which guide the Court in determining whether to grant leave to adduce fresh or further evidence. They are, inter alia, as follows: (a) The evidence sought to be adduced must be such as could not have been, with reasonable diligence, obtained for use at the trial, or are matters which have occurred after judgment in the trial Court. (b) In respect of other evidence other than in (a) above, as for instance, in respect of an appeal from a judgment after a hearing on the merits, the Court will admit such fresh evidence only on special grounds. (c) The evidence should be such as if admitted, it would have an important, not necessarily crucial effect on the whole case; and (d) The evidence must be such as apparently credible in the sense that it is capable of being believed and it need not be incontrovertible. See: Asabaro vs Aruwaji (1974) 4 SC (Reprint) 87 @ 90 – 91: Akanbi vs Alao (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt.108) 118@ 137 – 138 H – B: Esangbedo vs The State (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt.113) 57 @ 67 A-C.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Williams v Adold/Stamm (2007) – SC.404/2013

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WHEN APPLICATION TO AMEND PLEADINGS WILL BE REJECTED

The rules for the grant of amendment of pleadings are therefore very flexible and a matter within the discretion of the Judge. Nevertheless, an application to amend pleadings should be refused where: (1) It will entail injustice to the respondent. (2) The applicant is acting mala fide. (3) By his blunder, the applicant has done some injury to the respondent which cannot be compensated by costs or otherwise.

– SANKEY, J.C.A, Awure v. Iledu (2007)

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JUDGE MUST EVALUATE THE EVIDENCE

The justice of a case and statutory requirements will not be met if the trial Court considers only one side of a case. Adequate consideration must be given to both sides. In discharging this duty, the Judge must evaluate all the evidence. It is not the justice of a case if the Judge, without evaluating the evidence, holds that he believes one side and disbelieves the other. Only an evaluation of the evidence will logically lead to his reasons for believing or disbelieving. However, Judges differ in style. Nevertheless, whichever style a Judge uses or adopts, the important thing is that he considers all the evidence before him by evaluation before arriving at his conclusion which is the finding.

– Sankey JCA. Abdul v. State (2021)

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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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IN LAND CASES THE PLAINTIFF MUST SUCCEED ON ITS OWN CASE

In land cases that the plaintiff when claiming a declaration of title must succeed on the strength of his case. The onus lies on the plaintiff to satisfy the court that he is entitled on the evidence brought by him to the declaration of title claimed. The plaintiff must rely on the strength of his case and not on the weakness of the defendant’s case. If this onus is not discharged, the weakness of the defendant’s case may not generally help him and the proper judgment will be for the defendant. Where, however, the case of the defendant lends support to the case of the plaintiff, it is recognised that the court cannot ignore it in arriving at a conclusion as to which side to believe.

– Iguh, JSC. Clay v. Aina (1997)

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EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE; INTERFERENCE BY APPELLATE COURT

It has long been established that the function of the evaluation of evidence is essentially that of the trial Court, Igago v State (1999) LPELR – 1442 (SC) 27; Onuoha V. The State [1998] 5 NWLR (pt. 548) 118. Where the trial Court has unquestionably, evaluated evidence and, justifiably, appraised the facts, it is not the business of an appellate Court to interfere, and to substitute its own views for the view of the trial Court. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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