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PARTY WILL NOT BE ALLOWED TO LEAD EVIDENCE ON MATTER NOT PLEADED

Dictum

The elementary rule of pleading is that a party shall plead facts which he propose to rely upon in order to establish his own case. It is now trite law that a party will not be allowed to lead evidence in respect of facts not pleaded; or to lead evidence contrary to his pleading. The sole purpose of pleading is to ensure that the parties to the case know the case they will meet at the trial, to obviate element of surprise. Pleading saves time and brings out clearly the issues in the case.

— Olatawura JSC. African Continental Bank Ltd. v. Alhaji Umaru Gwagwada (SC.26/1990, 29 APR 1994)

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PARAGRAPHS OF PLEADINGS NOT SUPPORTED BY EVIDENCE WILL BE ABANDONED

It is settled law that a party will only be permitted to call evidence to support his pleadings and evidence which is contrary to his pleadings must be ignored or expunged when considering the case (see for example The National Investment & Properties Co. Ltd. v. The Thompson Organisation Ltd & Ors. (1969) NMLR 99. Where also a party’s pleadings is not supported by evidence, those paragraphs of the pleadings will certainly be deemed to have been abandoned (see Alhaji Bala & Ors v. Mrs. Bankole (1986) 3 NWLR (Pt.27) 141).

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

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FACTS / AVERMENTS PLEADED BUT NOT CONTROVERTED ARE DEEMED ADMITTED

It is a general principle of law that facts pleaded, or averments deposed to in an affidavit, if not specifically challenged or controverted, are deemed admitted and require no further proof, except where the facts are obviously false to the knowledge of the court. There is a plethora of authorities on this, such as, The Honda Place Ltd. Vs Globe Motor Holdings Nig. Ltd. (supra), Ajomale Vs Yaduat (No.2) (supra); Ogunleye Vs Oni (1990) 4 SC 130; CBN Vs Interstella Communications Ltd. (2017) LPELR 43940 (SC) @ 620; Nishizawa Ltd Vs Jthwani (1984) 12 SC 234.

– O.K. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Lagos State Govt. v. Abdul Kareem (2022) – SC.910/2016

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PLEADINGS TELL WHAT A PARTY IS SEEKING

There is also no doubt that in order to determine what the cause or reason for which the party seeking relief has come to the Court, regard must be had to that party’s pleadings, particularly the statement of claim. It is from there that the Court will be properly guided as to what set of facts the party is presenting as grounding his claim, the applicable principles of law and the legal remedy the party is seeking.

– Tukur JCA. Odulate v. FBN (2019)

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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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COURT OF LAW MUST LIMIT ITSELF TO ISSUE RAISED IN PLEADINGS

Courts of law must, as a rule, limit themselves to the issues raised by the parties in their pleadings as to act otherwise might well result in the denial to one or the other of the parties of his constitutional right to fair hearing.

– Iguh, JSC. Clay v. Aina (1997)

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RATIONALE BEHIND PLEADINGS

The basic law is that parties are bound to plead all facts they intend to rely upon at the trial and facts not pleaded will go to no issue. One rationale behind this principle is that litigation must follow some restrictive order and not open-ended in order to save the time of both the Courts and the litigants. If the procedure of pleadings was not introduced in litigation, parties search for evidence could not have ended and that should have protracted litigation beyond expectation. The law simply put, is that litigation is fought on pleadings. The pleadings define the parameters of the case and they give notice of the case to the other party. Any evidence led must be within the circumference of the facts pleaded. Pleadings in that wise, must not be deficient of the facts required to build up the case.

— S.J. Adah, JCA. Luck Guard v. Adariku (2022) – CA/A/1061/2020

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