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CANNOT FRAME MORE ISSUES THAN THE NUMBER OF GROUNDS

Dictum

The law is well settled that in practice, there should be no proliferation of issues. Therefore out of three grounds of appeal, an appellant cannot formulate or frame four issues. In other words, a party cannot frame more issues than the number of grounds of appeal.

– Adumein JCA. Adewoyin v. Executive Governor (2011)

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OMNIBUS GROUND OF APPEAL REQUIRES LEAVE OF COURT

It is also trite that an Omnibus Ground of appeal is a general ground of fact complaining against the totality of the evidence adduced at the trial, see IREJU NWOKIDU AND 3 ORS V MARK OKANU AND ANOR (2010) 1 SC (Pt. 1) 136, ODOEMENA NWAIGWE AND ORS V NZE EDWIN OKERE (2008) 5-6 SC (Pt. 11) 93. Put in another way, an Omnibus Ground of Appeal is a complaint on evaluation of evidence which encompasses a complaint that the trial Court failed to properly evaluate the evidence before the Court, see AJIBONA V KOLAWOLE (1996) 12 SCNJ 270.

— M.N. Oniyangi, JCA. Jos Met. Dev. v. Umealakei (2020) – CA/J/481/2019

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PRINCIPLES TO CONSIDER TO DETERMINE GROUND OF LAW OR FACT

For the purposes of elucidation however, I think I should re-state some of these principles.
1. The first and foremost is for one to examine thoroughly the grounds of appeal in the case concerned to see whether they reveal a misunderstanding by the lower court of the law, or a misapplication of the law to the facts already proved or admitted.
2. Where a ground complains of a misunderstanding by the lower court of the law or a misapplication of the law to the facts already proved or admitted, it is a ground of law.
3. Where a ground of appeal questions the evaluation of facts before the application of the law, it is a ground of mixed law and. fact.
4. A ground which raises a question of pure fact is certainly a ground of fact.
5. Where the lower court finds that particular events occurred although there is no admissible evidence before the court that the event did in fact occur, the ground is that of law.
6. Where admissible evidence has been led, the assessment of that evidence is entirely for that court. If there is a complaint about the assessment of the admissible evidence, the ground is that, of fact.
7. Where the lower court approached the construction of a legal term of art in a statute on the erroneous basis that the statutory wording bears its ordinary meaning, the ground is that of law.
8. Where the lower court or tribunal applying the law to the facts in a process which requires the skill of a trained lawyer, this is a question of law.
9. Where the lower court reaches a conclusion which cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts as found, the appeal court will assume that there has been a misconception of the law. This is a ground of law.
10. Where the conclusion of the lower court is one of possible resolutions but one which the appeal court would not have reached if siesed of the issue, that conclusion is not an error in law.
11. Where a trial court fails to apply the facts which it has found corrective to the circumstance of the case before it and there is an appeal to a court of appeal which alleges a misdirection in the exercise of the application by the trial court, the ground of appeal alleging the misdirection is a ground of law not of fact.
12. When the Court of Appeal finds such application to be wrong and decides to make its own findings such findings made by the court of appeal are issues of fact and not of law.
13. Where the appeal court interferes in such a case and there is a further appeal to a higher court of appeal on the application of the facts, the grounds of appeal alleging such misdirection by the lower court of appeal is a ground of law not of fact.
14. A ground of appeal which complains that the decision of the trial court is against evidence or weight of evidence or contains unresolved contradictions in the evidence of witnesses., it is purely a ground of fact (which requires leave for an appeal to a court of appeal or a further court of appeal).

– Niki Tobi, JSC. Calabar CC v. Ekpo (2008)

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ISSUE MUST HAVE A GROUND OF APPEAL SUPPORTING IT

Issues for determination numbers (1), (3), (4) and (6) are based on no grounds of appeal at all or upon grounds 4 and 5 which had already been struck out. This should not be. Counsel will do well to remember that issues for determination must arise from and relate to the grounds of appeal filed, and no more. Conversely, any issue for determination which has no ground of appeal to support it is worse than useless: See on this Osinupebi v Saibu & ors. (1982) 7 S.C. 104 at pp. 110-111; also Western Steel Works Limited & Anor. v. Iron & Steel Workers Union of Nigeria (1987) 1N. W.L.R. (Part 49) 284, at p. 304.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Ugo v Obiekwe (1989) – SC.207/1985

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NATURE OF A GROUND OF APPEAL

Grounds of appeal are meant to attack findings of a court that have bearing on the case put up by a litigant. In other words, it should be related to a decision of the court and contain complaints an appellant rely on to succeed in setting aside a decision, the ratio decidendi of a judgment, not just observations and passing remarks of a Judge in the course of writing a judgment.

– Mukhtar JSC. Nwankwo v. Ecumenical (2007)

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EASY WAY TO IDENTIFY A GROUND OF FACT FROM A GROUND OF LAW

In Enterprise Bank Ltd. v. Deaconess F. Bose Aroso & 5 ors. Suit No.166/2003 judgment delivered on the 12th of April, 2013: “Before making the distinction between grounds of law, mixed law and facts, and facts, first of all read carefully the ground of appeal and its particulars to understand thoroughly the substance of the complaint. Find out if the ground of appeal contests facts. If it does it can only be a ground of facts or mixed law and facts. Once facts are not in dispute. That is to say facts are settled, a ground of appeal can never be on facts or mixed law and facts. The ground of appeal can only complain of the wrong application of the law to settled facts and that is a ground of law. It is very easy to identify a ground of appeal on facts.”

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