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COURT OF APPEAL SHOULD CONSIDER ALL ISSUES

Dictum

It is trite law that an appeal court must consider all issues for determination raised before it except where it is of the view that a consideration of one or more issues is enough to dispose of the appeal. In such a situation, the court may adopt such issues as may dispose of the appeal and may not be bound to consider all the other Issues he considers irrelevant and unnecessary.

— M.A. Danjuma JCA. Folorunsho Ogboja v. Access Bank Plc (CA/AK/38/2013, 18 MAY 2015)

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COURT IS TO CONSIDER ALL ISSUES PLACED BEFORE IT

There is no doubt, that, generally, the court below ought to have considered all issues placed before it for determination not being the final court on the matter. But a litigant can only be heard to complain if the issue not so considered is material and substantial in the particular circumstance. See Onifade V. Olayiwola (1990) 7 NWLR (Pt.161) 130 at 159 and if the appellant had suffered any miscarriage of justice. See; State V. Ajie (2000) FWLR (Pt.15) 2831 at 2842.

— O. Ariwoola, JSC. African Intl. Bank Ltd. v Integrated Dimensional System (2012) – SC.278/2002

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THE ISSUES ADOPTED BY THE APPELLANT IS TO BE ADOPTED

The issues formulated for determination of this appeal by the parties are similar. However, it is the appellant that is aggrieved by the decision of the lower Court. It is his grievances that are being addressed in this appeal. The respondents duty is to reply to those grievances. This being so, I will adopt the issues formulated by the appellant in the determination of this appeal.

— P.A. Galumje, JSC. Compact Manifold v Pazan Ltd. (2019) – SC.361/2017

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ISSUE FROM INCOMPETENT GROUND OF APPEAL IS ITSELF INCOMPETENT

Ordinarily, any issue formulated from an incompetent ground of appeal is itself incompetent and must be struck out. Issues are the important questions formulated for determination by the court and could be distilled from more than one ground of appeal. See; Sunday Madagwa V. The State (1988) 12 SC (Pt. 1) 68 at 76 … Generally, issues are not meant to be formulated on each ground of appeal but raised or distilled out of a combination of the essential complaints of the appellant in the grounds of appeal. Therefore, issues must necessarily relate to facts or law decided by the court whose decision is appealed against. In other words, it is ideal to distill or formulate an issue from more than one ground of appeal but where this is not done or it is impossible, just only one issue may be raised from one ground of appeal. Therefore, a valid Notice of Appeal with one ground of appeal and a single issue for determination is sufficient to sustain an appeal … There is no doubt that it is now an established practice that an appeal is decided upon the issues raised or formulated for determination of the court. In effect, when issues for determination are formulated, the grounds of appeal upon which they are based or from which the issues are formulated become extinguished or expired. The argument of the appeal is then based on the issues so formulated but not on the grounds.

— O. Ariwoola, JSC. African Intl. Bank Ltd. v Integrated Dimensional System (2012) – SC.278/2002

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FAILURE TO APPEAL FOR ISSUES NOT HEARD BY THE LOWER COURT

It is obvious that the respondent has not appealed against the failure of the court below to consider other issues raised before it. The inference that can rightly be made from that position is that they took a chance that the judgment of the court below would be affirmed by this court. Having regard to what I have said above on the only issue considered by the court below, it is manifest that the risk taken by the respondent has not enured in its favour. On the other hand, as already observed, the trial court had found for the plaintiff/appellant in respect of all his claims against the respondent. As those findings remained undisturbed, it would not in my humble view, be right in the circumstances to now deny the appellant of the fruits of his success by remitting the case to the court below for the consideration of the issues that the court deliberately left unconsidered in its judgment. The justice of the case demands that the appellant should be granted all his claims as found by the trial court. And it is hereby granted accordingly.

— Ejiwunmi JSC. Melwani V. Five Star Industries Limited (SC.15/1994, 25 January 2002)

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COURT CANNOT PRONOUNCE ON ISSUE NOT RAISED

Nnaemeka-Agu, J.S.C., expressed similar views in a recent case Niger Progress Ltd. v. North East Line Corporation (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt.107) 68 at p. 100 viz: “In the instant case whether or not the writ was duly indorsed… is not only new, but one which should have been resolved one way or the other in the Court of trial. It ought to have occurred to learned counsel that this Court cannot make any pronouncement on the endorsement or Service of the Writ when such an issue was never placed before the lower Court … even a notice to raise a point not raised in the Court below … can never serve as a licence for introducing new and separate issues.”

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WHAT IS AN ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION

I may here repeat what I said in the case of Standard Consolidated Dredging & Construction Company Limited v. Katonecrest Nigeria Limited (1986) 5 N.W.L.R. (Pt.44) 791, at p.799 where I said: “The above manner of wording the issues for determination in both briefs raises two necessary questions, namely:- (i) what is the meaning of “issues arising for determination” in a Brief and (ii) what are its objects and purpose? As for the meaning of ‘Issue” I cannot do better than borrow the words of Buckley, L.J., in Howel v. Dering & Ors. (1915) 1 K.B. 54, at p.62 thus: “The word can be used in more than one sense. It may be said that every disputed question of fact is in issue. It is in a sense, that is to say, it is in dispute. But every question of fact which is “in issue” and which a jury has to decide is not necessarily “an issue” within the meaning of the rule”. Later he continued: “An issue is that which, if decided in favour of the plaintiff, will in itself give a right to relief, or would, but for some other consideration, in itself give a right to relief; and if decided in favour of the defendant will in itself be a defence.” So it is in an appellate brief, mutatis mutandis. It is not every fact in dispute or indeed every ground of appeal that raises an issue for determination. While sometimes one such fact or ground may raise an issue, more often than not it takes a combination of such facts or grounds to raise an issue. The acid test is whether the legal consequences of that ground or fact, or a combination of those grounds or facts as framed by the appellant, if decided in favour of the appellant, will result in a verdict in his favour. For as Lord Diplock put it in Fidelitas Shipping Co. Ltd. v. V/O Ex-portchleb (1966) 1 Q.B. 630, at p. 642: “But while an issue may thus involve a dispute about facts, a mere dispute about facts divorced from their legal consequences is not “an issue.”

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

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