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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Mere averments in pleadings, no matter how impressive they may be are useless if no evidence is led to prove them. Such averments in the pleadings unless, they are admitted, are regarded as mere suggestions of counsel and if they are not proved by evidence of witnesses are deemed to have been abandoned. [Adegbite v. Ogunfaolu (1990) 4 NW1,11 (Pt.146) 578; Balogun v. Amubikanhun (1985) 3 NWLR(Pt.11)27; Obmiami BrickAND Stone (Nig.) Ltd. v. A.C.B. Ltd. (1992) 3 NWLR (Pt.229) 260;Ayeniv. Sowemimo (1982) 5 SC 60; Idesoh v. Ordia (1997) 3 NWLR (Pt.491) 17 referred to].

— Adeyemo v. Ida & Ors. (1998) – CA/1/6/92

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With due deference to learned counsel for the appellants, the aim of amending pleadings in general is to enable the court to decide the rights of the parties, and not to punish them for mistakes made in the conduct of their cases by deciding otherwise than in accordance with their rights. The age of technicalities is now history. Substantial justice is the order of the day. So it is either you get moving on the train of justice or you get left behind, with the necklace of technicalities wrapped around your neck to keep you warm company or, on the other hand, to choke you.

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

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I have carefully considered the submissions of the parties and the judicial authorities cited. It is trite that adversarial civil litigation is basically fought on pleadings. It is the foundation of the parties’ respective cases. The general principle of law is that such pleadings must sufficiently and comprehensively set out material facts, so as to ascertain with certainty and clarity the matters or issues in dispute between the parties. This is because the purpose of pleadings is to give adequate notice to the adversary of the case he is to meet and to afford him the opportunity to properly respond to such case. Its aim is to bring to the knowledge of the opposite side and the court, all the essential facts. It is therefore a safeguard against the element of surprise. See: SODIPO V LEMMINKAINEN OY & ANOR (1985) LPELR-3088(SC) at page 56, para. F, per Oputa, JSC; ODOM & ORS v PDP & ORS (2015) LPELR-24351(SC); ALHASSAN & ANOR v ISHAKU & ORS (2016) LPELR-40083(SC); and PDP v INEC & 3 ORS (supra).

— H.S. Tsammani, JCA. Peter Obi & Anor. v INEC & Ors. (2023) – CA/PEPC/03/2023

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One fundamental aim of pleadings is to give notice to the adverse party of what he is going to meet at the trial. He should not be kept in the limbo. He should not be in dark. He should not be kept in abeyance. He is entitled to know the case of the opponent well before trial commences. And so when a part;, states his case in his pleadings, he cannot depart from it, unless the court allows him to do so. And the court can allow him to so depart by allowing an amendment to the original pleadings. And this must be based on an application. If parties are allowed to move in and out of their pleadings at will, the litigation will be more of a game of speculation, particularly as it relates to the facts relied upon by parties. If parties are allowed to move in and out of their pleadings, then there will be no end to litigation as they can freely introduce mid-stream any issue not pleaded to the disadvantage and surprise of the adverse party. That will be over-reaching the adverse party. That is not right. No, not at all.

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

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It must be remembered that it is a cardinal principle of the Rules of Practice that parties are bound by their pleadings and evidence led on matters not pleaded goes to no issue. Furthermore, any fact admitted in a party’s pleadings, need not be proved by the other party.

— Craig JSC. Uredi v. Dada (1998) – SC.106/1986

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It must be appreciated that there cannot be a better notice of a case a party intends to make than his pleading. It is a mere notice and can never be substituted for the evidence required in proof of the facts pleaded, subject however to an admission made by the other party. Unless through skilful cross-examination discrediting the case of the other party, he is still bound to lead evidence in support of his own pleading. Where evidence is adduced to buttress a pleading, then it is good news for the pleader, as it strengthens his case. However, evidence adduced in support of facts not pleaded goes to no issue and should therefore be disregarded ORIZU V. ONYAEGBUNAM 1978.5 S.C. 21 at 820. In ACB V. GWAGWALADA 1994. 5 NWLR Part 342 page 25 at 27 it was held that before considering admissibility of any evidence or document in support of a party’s case it must be shown that the evidence sought to be led is relevant. Even if the evidence is admissible and it is not relevant, the admission of such evidence does not advance the case of the party.

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

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