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COURT SHOULD NOT DETERMINE ISSUES MEANT FOR THE SUBSTANTIVE CASE AT THE PRELIMINARY STAGE

Dictum

It is the settled position of the law that a court should not comment on or decide at preliminary stage matters or issues which are supposed to be decided in the substantive case. See: NWANKWO & ORS v YAR’ADUA & ORS (2010) LPELR-2109(SC), at page 71, paras. B-F, per Commassie, JSC; and OCHOLI ENOJO JAMES, SAN v INEC & ORS (2015) LPELR-24494(SC) at page 92, para. G, per Okoro, JSC.

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

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PROLIFERATION OF ISSUES IS DEPLORABLE

Undoubtedly, the Appellants have disposed themselves to the unpardonable practice of proliferation of issues. Proliferation of issues is highly deplorable. In drafting grounds of appeal and issues for determination, counsel must at all times avoid proliferation of issues and this is done by distilling a sole issue from one or more grounds of appeal, thereby avoiding multiplicity of issues from the same ground.

– Saulawa, JSC. Oko v. Ebonyi State (2021)

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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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TRIAL COURT HAS A DUTY TO DECIDE ALL ISSUES ARISING

Adjudication in our courts is our human attempt, (however imperfect), circumscribed as it is by our human limitations, to do justice between the parties before the court. It is of the essence of justice and fairness that cases are decided on their merits. This imposes a duty on the trial judge to consider all the issues arising between the parties before deciding for or against any such party. When a trial court fails in this duty he has merely decided half the case and not the whole case.

– Oputa JSC. OLUFOSOYE v. OLORUNFEMI (1989)

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PURPOSE OF FRAMING OF ISSUES

✓ In Unity Bank & Anor V. Edward Bonari (2008) 2 SCM 193 at 240, this court had opined thus: “It is now firmly settled that the purpose of reframing issue or issues is to lead to a more judicious and proper determination of an appeal. In other words, the purpose is to narrow the issue or issues in controversy in the interest of accuracy, clarity and brevity.” See also, Musa Sha (Jnr.) & Anor V. Da Ray Kwan & 4 ors (2000) 5 SCNJ 101 (2000) 8 NWLR (Pt 670) 685.

✓ In Sha V. Kwan (supra) at 705 this court has stated thus: “So long as it will not lead to injustice to the opposite side, appellate courts possess the power and in the interest of justice, to reject, modify or reframe any or all issues formulated by the parties…”

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ARGUMENT IN SUPPORT OF ISSUES MUST BE TRACED TO THE ISSUES

It must be emphasised that issues for determination in an appeal must arise from the grounds of appeal filed by the appellant. Equally arising from this statement of the law is that the arguments in support of the issues must be traced to the issues and the grounds of appeal from which such issues were framed. I say no more.

— Mohammed, JSC. C.S.S. Bookshops v. Muslim Community & Ors. (2006) – SC.307/2001

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DUTY OF AN APPELLATE COURT TO EITHER ADOPT, REFRAME OR FORMULATE NEW ISSUES IN THE DETERMINATION OF AN APPEAL

“In Considering the issues for determination in an appeal formulated in the briefs of argument of the parties, an appellate court can, either adopt or reframe or even formulate new issues, in the determination of the appeal. This is the law as enunciated in the case of FRN V. Ogbegolu (2006) 18 NWLR (PT. 1010) P. 188 @ 225 where it was held that, after examining the issues for determination, it is the duty of an appellate court to either adopt those in the briefs of argument or formulate new ones which he believes would determined the real complaint or grievances of the appellant. See also Adaku Vs Ajeh (1994) 5 NWLR (PT. 346) P. 582 and Ikegwuha V. Ohawuchin (1996) 3 NWLR (PT. 435) P. 146.”

— I.S. Bdliya, JCA. Umar Ibrahim v Nasiru Danladi Mu’azu & 2 Ors. (2022) – CA/G/317/2019

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