NIGERIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION V.CLIFCO NIGERIA LIMITEDCase Laws . Supreme Court
NIGERIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION V.CLIFCO NIGERIA LIMITED
In the Supreme Court of Nigeria
Friday, April 15, 2011
Case Number: SC. 233/2003
MUKHTAR JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
ONNOGHEN JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
TABAI JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
FABIYI JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
VIVOUR JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
NIGERIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION
CLIFCO NIGERIA LIMITED
Bode Rhodes-Vivour, JSC.
(Delivering the Judgment by the Court):
The Appellant/cross respondent and. the respondent/cross appellant executed a contract on the 7th day of October 1994. In that contract it was agreed that the appellant/cross respondent would sell to the respondent/cross appellant twenty four cargoes of Vacuum Gas oil (VGO) at the rate of one cargo per month. The contract was for two years certain and it commenced on 7th of October 1994. As at 1999 the appellant/cross respondent had only made available to the respondent/cross appellant five cargoes of VGO. Rather than sue for breach of contract the respondent/cross appellant preferred Novation. The parties had
a meeting on the 27th of October 1999, and at that meeting a Novation emerged. The old contract had been novated into a new contract. New terms were agreed in substitution for some of the terms of the term contract. The new terms were that in substitution for VGO, Nineteen cargoes of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) at the same rate would be supplied to the respondent/cross appellant commencing from November, 1999.
The parties went to arbitration because the appellant/cross respondent failed to deliver to the respondent/cross appellant the nineteen cargoes of LPFO as agreed in the novation, in place of the same amount of VGO.
On the 12th of December, 2000 the arbitrators published their award, which was in favour of the respondent/cross appellant. The award by the Arbitral Panel runs as follows:
‘We award and determine that the respondent (i.e the appellant in this appeal) jointly and severally shall pay to the claimant sum the of $4,500,000 (four million, five hundred thousand US Dollar) OR in the alternative, we order the delivery by the respondent to the claimant a total of 18 cargoes of LPFO of 25,000 metric tons each month for every consecutive month commencing from the month of January, 2001 for the next eighteen months. It was further ordered that if the respondents should default in any months delivery, the balance of the cargoes will become due and exigible in cash at the rate of US $250,000.00 (two hundred and fifty thousand US Dollars) each, at the prevailing price in the oil market. It was further ordered that the respondent shall bear and pay the whole costs of the arbitration which includes fees and expenses assessed at N4,000,000.00 (four million Naira). Finally the respondent were ordered to pay the claimant interest at the rate of 10% per annum from the day after the award was made until the date of payment of the sums awarded, both dates inclusive’. Before the arbitral panel the Pipelines and Products marketing Company was the 2nd respondent. The Court of Appeal struck them out.
The appellant, as applicant in suit No:FHC/ABJ/CS/433/2000 took out an originating summons. The applicant prayed the Federal High Court for the following reliefs:
- An order setting aside the arbitral award dated The 12th of December, 2000 by Chief The Hon. Dr. Nnaemeka-Agu, Alhaji, The Hon. Abdullahi Ibrahim SAN, and Chief The Hon. Bayo Ojo, SAN in the matter of the arbitration between KLIFCO Nig Limited v Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation.
- An order refusing recognition or enforcement of the arbitral award dated 12th December, 2000 by Chief The Hon. Abdullahi Ibrahim SAN, and Chief, The Hon. Bayo Ojo SAN in the matter of the arbitration between KLIFCO Nigerian Ltd. v Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation.
In support of the originating summons was a 30 paragraph affidavit deposed to by Olayinka Bolanta, a Legal Practitioner in Chambers of applicants Counsel. Several documents were annexed to the affidavit in support. Arguments commenced on 13/3/01 and were concluded on 10/5/01. The learned trial judge Okeke J. delivered judgment on the 31st day of October, 2001. The judge set aside the award and further held that the award could not be enforced. The respondent/cross appellant filed an appeal before the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal. The appellant/cross respondent as respondent filed preliminary objection and cross¬appealed. In a well considered judgment delivered on the 30th day of June 2003 the Court of Appeal concluded as follows:
- The order by the arbitral panel that the 1st respondent pay US $4,500.000.00 damages as loss of profit is set aside as the order constitutes an error on the face of the record.
- The alternative award by the arbitration panel that The 1st respondent should supply to appellant 18 Cargoes of LPFO monthly as affirmed.
- The award is remitted to the arbitrators who shall within 60 days from the date of this judgment set a new time frame for the performance of order (2) made above.
- The award of 10% interest on the monetary compensation made by the arbitrators is set aside as one without jurisdiction.
- The name of Pipelines and Products Marketing company Ltd. in the proceedings before the arbitration Panel is struck out and consequently the award made against it jointly with the 1st respondent is set aside. The award against the 1st respondent however subsists as stated in order 2 above.
- There is no basis to sustain the judgement of the lower court on the other ground other than those stated in the judgment as canvassed on Respondents Notice.
- I award N7, 500 costs in favour of the appellant against 1st respondent. I also award N5, 000 damages against the appellant in favour of the 2nd respondent.
This appeal is against that judgment. The Respondent before the Court of Appeal (ie the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation) filed an appeal, while the appellant before the Court of Appeal (KLIFCO Nigeria Limited) filed a cross appeal. In accordance with Rules of this Court the brief filed on the 21st of June 2005 was deemed duly filed on the 31st of May, 2006.
The respondents brief was filed on the 16th of June, 2006. As regards the cross appeal, the respondent/cross appellants brief was filed on the 4th of May, 2005, while the appellant/cross respondents brief was filed on the 7th November, 2005. Learned counsel for the appellant formulated the following five issues for determination of the appeal. They read:
- Whether or not the lower court was right to hold that the arbitration panel had jurisdiction to enter¬tain this matter notwithstanding the concurrent finding of fact that the old contract agreement which contained the arbitration clause had been novated into a new contract which had no similar clause.
2.Whether the lower court was not wrong when it failed to hold that the arbitrators misconducted themselves by taking evidence from the respondents without affording the appellant same opportunity
3.Whether or not the lower court was right in uphold¬ing the alternative award, of the arbitrators having regard to the circumstances of this case.
4.Whether or not the cost awarded by the lower court Was justified.
5.Whether or not the lower court was not in error in considering issues which were not placed before the court.
On his part, learned counsel for the respondent also formulated five issues for determination. They are:
1.Whether the decision of the lower court that Arbitration Panel had the jurisdiction to entertain the matter placed before them was not correct.
2.Whether the lower courts decision that the appellant was not denied opportunity to defend itself before the Arbitration Panel was not proper.
3.Whether or not the cost awarded by the lower Court against the parties was proper.
1.Whether the lower court considered issues not placed before it by the parties and, if it did, whether such consideration affected the judgment.
- Whether the lower court was right in upholding the alternative award of the arbitrators.
Learned counsel for the appellant, and respondent formulated five issues respectively. Both sets of issues ask the same questions. In the circumstances I shall rely on the five issues formulated by the appellant in deciding this appeal. At the hearing of the appeal on the 31st day of January 2011, learned counsel for the appellant adopted the appellants brief filed on the 21st day of June, 2005, deemed duly filed on the 31st day of May, 2006. Learned Counsel said nothing in amplification of their briefs. Learned Counsel for the appellant urged us to allow the appeal, while learned counsel for the respondent urged us to dismiss the appeal. I shall now examine the issues seriatim.
Whether or not the lower court was right to hold that the arbitration panel had jurisdiction to enter¬tain this matter notwithstanding the concurrent findings of fact that the old contract agreement which contained the arbitration clause had been novated into a new contract which had no similar clause.
Learned counsel for the appellant observed that the arbitration clause (Article 22) in the agreement of 7/10/94 specifically refers to that agreement contending that it cannot extend to the new contract made on 27/10/99. He submitted that the arbitration clause in the old contract cannot confer jurisdiction on the arbitration panel in respect of the new contract, and so the panel had no jurisdiction to entertain the dispute between the parties in the absence of an agreement to extend the arbitration clause to the novated contract. Continuing his argument learned counsel observed that the settled position of the law is that jurisdiction can be raised at any time or stage in the proceedings or on appeal, observing that the lower court was in error when it failed to consider the issue of jurisdiction of the arbitral panel. Learned counsel for the respondent observed that the modification of the terms of the obligation in the original contract with new terms on 27/9/99 did not extinguish the arbitration clause in the original contract and so the arbitration panel had jurisdiction to entertain the dispute. In further submissions learned
counsel observed that since the foundation of jurisdiction in arbitration is submission, and the appellant voluntarily submitted to arbitration he cannot be heard to resile at this stage.
Finally, learned counsel observed that the appellant was estopped from raising the issue of jurisdiction. Reliance was placed on Section 12(3) (a) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1990.
In the contract of 7/10/94 it was agreed that the appellant would sell to the respondent twenty four cargoes of Vacuum Gas Oil (VGO) monthly for two years certain. As at 1999 only five cargoes were made available to the respondent. The respondent preferred novation to suing for breach of contract, and so on 27/10/99 both sides met, at the end of their meeting the old contract was novated in a new contract. The new terms agreed were that the appellant should sell to the respondent the outstanding nineteen cargoes but this time around, Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO) instead of (VGO). The appellant failed to deliver to the respondent the nineteen cargoes of LPFO as agreed, and so they went arbitration. Issue such as:
(a) That an arbitration clause is separate from the contract, and whether it survived the agreement of 17/10/94;
(b) Whether there was Novation;
(c) The effect of Novation on arbitration clause, are all no longer live issues, and I must state that delving into them would amount to an academic exercise, and courts ought to spend precious judicial time on live issues. See:
Oyeneye v Odugbesan 1972 4SC p244
Nzom v Jinadu 1987 1NWLR pt 51 P 537
Okulate v Awosanya 2002 2NWLR Pt 645 p530
Nkwocha v Gov of Anambra State 1984 1SCNLR p634
The live point for consideration under this issue is jurisdiction in arbitral proceedings. The question asked in issue No. 1 is whether the Arbitration panel had jurisdiction to entertain the dispute between the parties. Jurisdiction is a threshold matter, a question of law. The position of the Law is that the issue of jurisdiction can be raised at any stage of the proceedings, in the court of first instance, on appeal, and even in the Supreme Court for the first time. See
Usman Dan Fodio University v. Kraus Thompson Organisation Ltd 2001 15 NWLR pt.736 p. 305.
The reason is obvious. Jurisdiction is the heart and soul of a case. No matter how well a case is conducted and decided if the court had no jurisdiction to adjudicate, the whole exercise would amount to a nullity. See
Madukolu v. Nkemdilim 1962 1 ANLR p.587
Bromk Motors Ltd and Anor v. Wema Bank Ltd 1983 1SCNLR P.296
This position of the Law applicable in the usual way or in regular courts does not apply to arbitral proceedings. Section 12(3) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act governs the issue of jurisdiction in arbitral proceedings. It states that:
- In any arbitral proceedings a plea that the arbitral tribunal:
(a) does not have jurisdiction may be raised not later than the time of submission of the points of defence and a party is not precluded from raising such a plea by reason that he had appointed or participated in the appointment of an arbitrator ……. and
(b) the arbitral tribunal may in either case admit a later plea if it consider that the delay was justified.
My Lords, the interpretation of the above and the position of the issue of jurisdiction in arbitral proceedings is that jurisdiction to hear and determine a dispute is raised before the arbitral panel within the time stipulated in the arbitral Act. It can only be raised after the stipulated period if the arbitral panel finds reasons for the delay justified. An appeal on the issue of jurisdiction can be entertained by the High Court provided there was no submission to jurisdiction. A party who did not raise the issue of jurisdiction before the arbitral panel is foreclosed from raising it for the first time in the High Court. The reason being that the foundation of jurisdiction in an arbitration is submission.
In this matter the appellant participated in the arbitral proceedings. At no time did he raise the issue of jurisdiction of the arbitral panel to hear the dispute. The clear interpretation of the appellants conduct is that it submitted to jurisdiction. It cannot raise the issue of jurisdiction on appeal. Issue No.1 in the circumstances fails.
Whether the lower court was not wrong when it failed to hold that the Arbitrators misconducted themselves by taking evidence from the respondent without affording the appellant same opportunity.
At the arbitral proceedings it was agreed by counsel that the reference would be decided on the documents which were submitted to the panel and there would be no oral hearing. The arbitral panel found the respondents claim before it to be in a confused state and so to resolve that confusion the respondents counsel was asked to clarify. Infact the arbitrators stated in their awards thus:
‘As a result of this apparent confused state of the claimants claim, claimants counsel was asked by the Tribunal what his clients claim were, and he stated that it was the US $4.5 million or in the alternative the balance of nineteen cargoes of VGO/LPFO.’
The claimant before the arbitral panel is the respondent/cross¬ appellant in this appeal.
Learned counsel for the appellant observed that after learned counsel for the respondent provided the clarification learned counsel for the appellant was never invited to respond to the clarification. He submitted that the soliticitation of evidence of one party without allowing the other party to respond on the issue is a breach of the right to fair hearing. Reliance was placed on the 1999 constitution,
Obeta v. Okpe 1996 9NWLR pt. 473 p. 401
He urged us to resolve this issue in favour of the appellant. Responding learned counsel for the respondent observed that the document that was admitted by the arbitral panel reduced the appellants liability from 19 cargoes to 18 cargoes, a finding which favoured the appellant, and the appellant did not object to the clarification. Learned counsel submitted that the appellant cannot complain about the admission of the affidavit of Emeka Ukpaby deposed to on 9/3/2000 when its counsel acquiesced to the admission of the document from which the appellant has benefited. The question is whether the appellant was denied fair hearing in light of the agreed procedure to be adopted by the arbitration panel. . The Court of Appeal reasoned as follows:
‘With respect to the reasoning of the lower court that the panel had relied on some evidence in respect of which the respondent was not given an opportunity to react. I am with respect unable to agree with the lower court. It is correct that the panel in its award relied on an affidavit said to have been deposed to by MR. EMEKA UKPABO on 9/3/2000. But the said affidavit was only relied upon to reduce what would have otherwise been the liability of the respondent on the appellants claim. The case of the appellant as commonly
acknowledge by all the parties was that the respondent has agreed to sell to the appellant 24 consignments of VGO. However, the respondent only supplied 5 cargoes. Initially, the appellant was claiming for loss of profit on 19 undelivered cargoes. The evidence let into the proceedings through the affidavit of MR. EMEKA UKPABO showed that another one cargo had been delivered thus reducing the claim of the appellant for non-delivery of 19 cargoes to 18 cargoes.’
The above is correct, but I must avert my mind to whether the appellant was denied fair hearing. Section 36 of the constitution is mandatory. It states that:
36(i) In the determination of his civil rights and obligation, including, any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manners as to secure its independence and impartiality.
A judge, adjudicator, or arbitrator in resolving dispute should allow both parties to be heard and should listen to the point of view or case of both sides. Audi alteram partem and memo judex in causa sua are maxims denoting basic fairness and a canon of natural justice. See
Ogundoyin v. Adeyemi 20011 13 NWLR pt.730 p. 403
Saleh v. Monguno 2003 1 NWLR pt. 801 p.221
It is the duty of this court to find out if the appellant was denied a fair hearing. That is to say whether he was not given an opportunity to present his case.
In Masheshe General Merchants Ltd v. Nig Steel Products Ltd 1987 INWLR pt.55 p. 111. This court explained the role of counsel in handling a case. Excerpts:
A counsel who has been briefed and has accepted the brief …………… has full control of the case. He is to conduct the case in the manner proper to him, so far as he is not in fraud of his client. He can even compromise the case. He can submit to judgment. Sometime he could filibuster if he considers it necessary for the conduct of his case………………………. ‘
At the arbitral proceedings, as with all proceedings counsel has general authority to decide in his discretion on how to conduct his case, and so for a party represented by counsel to say that he was denied fair hearing he must show that he was not allowed to present his case. Since learned counsel for the appellant did not object to the admission in evidence of the affidavit deposed to by MR. EMEKA UKPABI on 9/3/2000 he cannot be heard on appeal to say that he was denied fair hearing. The learned counsel for the appellant who
acquiesced to that procedure cannot on appeal be heard to complain. Issue No.2 is resolved in favour of the respondent.
Whether or not the lower court was right in upholding the alternative award of the arbitrators having regard to the circumstances of the case.
In arriving at the award the arbitrators said:
…In the result we award to the claimant against the respondent the sum of US$4,500,000 (four million five hundred thousand US Dollars) as damages for the undelivered cargoes of VGO or LPFO of 25,000 metric tons each.
The arbitrators continued:
‘Claimant also claims in the alternative, delivery of the undelivered cargoes. In our view it is only fair that it is entitled to this.
The award was thus made in the alternative as follows:
In the alternative, we order the delivery by the respondents to the claimant a total of 18 cargoes of LFPO of 25,000 metric tons each month for every consecutive month commencing from the month of January, 2001, for the next eighteen months. It is further ordered that if the respondents should default in any months delivery, the balance of cargoes will become due and exigible in cash at the rate of US $250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand US Dollars) each, at the prevailing price in the oil market.
The Court of Appeal set aside the award of US $4,500,000 because no evidence was led to prove it and sustained the alternative award. That court had this to say:
‘.. .1 set aside only the award of $4, 500,000.00 as damages for loss of profit and uphold the alternative award that respondent should be made to supply LPFO as stated in the award.’
The Court Appeal justified the alternative award by observing that it is to enable the respondent (now appellant) perform its contractual obligation to supply the commodity VGO or LPFO. The main claim for $4,500,000.00 failed because it is in the nature of special damages and there was no evidence led to prove that the respondent was entitled to it. Then position of the law is that when the main claim fails the court should consider the alternative claim and if found to be proved or sustainable grant it.
Learned counsel for the appellant observed that the relief granted is different from what was claimed. He argued that the arbitral proceedings ought to be set aside on ground of misconduct in that the Tribunal raised issues suo motu without affording parties
opportunity to address on it and that damages awarded were not pleaded and/or proved. He submitted that where arbitrators have been guilty of misconduct the award is liable to be set aside. Reliance was placed on Taylor Woodrow (Nig) Ltd v. S.E. GMBH 993 4 NWLR pt. 286 p.127
He urged this court to resolve this issue in favour of the appellant.
Learned counsel for the respondent observed that the award was made in the alternative, in that where the first was not feasible the second would suffice. He further observed that the Court of Appeal set aside one part of the award and sustained the alternative. Concluding he contended that the award was not reviewed by the Court of Appeal rather it was sustained in part. He urged this court to resolve the issue in the negative. I must say straightaway that appeals are argued on issues formulated from grounds of Appeal. Consequently arguments must be confined to issues. Arguments not related or relevant to the issue under consideration would be discountenanced.
A look at the arguments canvassed by the appellant on this issue shows they are not related or relevant to answer the question whether the Court of Appeal was right in upholding the alternative award. Arguments smuggled in, apparently to enhance counsel submissions on an issue would equally be overlooked if it is irrelevant to the issue. Submissions of learned counsel for the appellant on this issue are in most cases not relevant.
The Court of Appeal justified the alternative award by observing that it is to enable the respondent (now appellant) perform its contractual obligation to supply the commodity, VGO or LPFO. The main claim for $4.500, 000 failed because it is in the nature of Special damages and there was no evidence led to prove that the respondent was entitled to it. It is well settled that when the main claim fails, the court should consider the alternative claim and if found to be proved, justified or sustainable, grant it. The Court of Appeal in my view was correct to sustain the alternative claim in part. Granting the alternative claim would enable the respondent (now appellant) perform its contractual obligation to supply the outstanding cargoes of LPFOs.
Whether or not the cost awarded by the Lower court against the appellant was justified Learned counsel for the appellant observed that the award of cost of N7,500 against the appellant by the Court of Appeal did not take cognizance of the fact that the appeal of the
respondent at the Court of Appeal did not totally succeed and the monetary award of US$4,500,000 was set aside and the same court did not take cognizance of the success of the cross¬appeal. Relying on N.B.C.I. v. Alfijir (Mining) Nig Ltd 1994 14 NWLR pt. 638 p. 176
He submitted that the award of cost was not done judicially and judiciously as the court did not take into consideration that the cross-appellant against whom the cost was awarded succeeded partly in its cross-appeal and the respondent who was the appellant in the lower court did not totally succeed in its appeal. He urged the court to resolve this issue in favour of the appellant.
Relying on UBA Ltd v. Stalbau Gmbh 1989 3 NWLR pt.110 p.374.
Learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the award of costs can only be overturned if the appellant is able to show what principles of law that ought to be taken into consideration that were omitted and which ones that ought to be taken into consideration or what relevant fact on record was ignored. Concluding his argument learned counsel urged this court to resolve this issue in the affirmative because the appellant has not shown what principles were wrongly omitted or taken into consideration. The award of cost is entirely at the discretion of the court, costs follow the event in Litigation. It follows that a successful party is entitled to costs unless there are special reasons why he should be deprived of his entitlement. In making an award of costs the court must act judiciously and judicially. That is to say with correct and convincing reasons. See Anyaegbunam v. Osaka 1993 5NWLR pt.294 p.449
Obayagbona v. Obazee 1972 5SC p.247
This court will not interfere with the way a trial court or the Court of Appeal exercises its discretion, but would be compelled to interfere if the discretion was wrongly exercised, or the exercise was tainted with some illegality or it is in the interest of justice to do so. See
University of Lagos v. Aigoro 1985 1NWLR pt.1 p. 143
Under this issue Learned counsel asks this court to set aside the award of costs of N7, 500 made in favour of the respondents, as appellant before that court. Order 5 Rule 6 of the Court of Appeal rules applicable as at 30/5/03 when the judgment of the Court of Appeal was delivered and costs of N7, 500 awarded states that:
‘Where the costs of an appeal are allowed they may ……………. be fixed by the court at the time when the judgment is given.’
Bearing in mind the fact that the respondent was successful in his appeal in the court below the award of N7, 500 is reasonable. I do not find it excessive, neither is it in breach of any known rules on costs. To my mind the learned justices of the Court of Appeal exercised their discretion judicially and judiciously in awarding costs of N7, 500.
Whether or not the lower court was not in error in considering issues which were not pleaded before the court. Learned counsel observed that the Court of Appeal exceeded its bounds by delving into extraneous issues not placed before it. Reliance was placed on Abbas v. Solomon 2001 15 NWLR pt.735 p. 144.
He observed that the alternative award which was held valid by the Court of Appeal was an order of specific performance referred to the Arbitral Panel for determination by the parties, further observing that none of the parties before the Court of Appeal presented any case of review of the Award of the Arbitrators. He submitted that the Court of Appeal was incompetent to go outside the scope of the issues submitted for determination before it. He urged that this issue be resolved in favour of the appellant. Learned counsel for the respondent observed that the Court of Appeal did not go outside the realm of the matter placed before it by the parties.
To my mind the alternative claim was granted because there was a contractual obligation to be fulfilled by the appellant. The circumstances of the case made it equitable and in the interest of justice and fair play that the Court of Appeal was correct to sustain the award and in doing so that court did not go outside what was before it.
I now consider the Cross Appeal.
In an appeal the respondent is to defend the appeal but where he is not satisfied with a finding of the trial court that he considers fundamental to the case, or where he seeks a reversal of a finding he can only seek redress in the appeal court by filing and arguing a cross-appeal. The filing of a cross-appeal does not relieve the respondent of the task of defending the judgment on appeal, on all other findings therein that he is satisfied with. This cross-appeal is in respect of the aspect of the Court of Appeal judgment which set aside the award of $4,500,000 United States Dollars. In setting aside the monetary award of
$4,500,000 made in favour of the respondent/cross-appellant the Court of Appeal had this to say:
‘Now in this case it is apparent on the face of the record that the basis of the award of US $4,500,000 to the appellant as special damages for loss of profit was what the arbitrators considered reasonable rather than evidence in proof thereof.”
The reason why the Court of Appeal set aside the monetary sum for $4,500,000 was because the sum claimed was in the nature of Special damages and no evidence was led to prove it before the award for the said sum was made by the Arbitral Panel. Learned counsel for the respondent/cross¬appellant, Chief M.I. Ahamba, SAN observed that where a point of fact is not in issue, or contested by the adverse party, e.g. in the pleadings, no evidence is required to be led before the point of fact is accepted. Reliance was placed on Section 75 of the Evidence Act. Akintola v. Solano 1986 2 NWLR pt.24 p. 598
He argued that since the claim for the sum of $4,500,000.00 was not challenged by the adverse party at ought to be granted. Reliance was further placed on Nwadike v Ibekwe 1987 pt.67 p. 718
Oguma v. IBWA 1988 1 NWLR pt.73 p. 658
Contending that where there is improper traverse by the defendant the plaintiff pleadings stands proved. He urged us to allow the cross-appeal. MR. I.L. ALABI, learned counsel for the appellant/cross-respondent obse