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GROUND OF APPEAL MUST BE PREMISED ON RATIO DECIDENDI OF COURT

Dictum

I have looked at the short Ruling of the trial Court on pages 29 and 30 of the Records, and could see no reference in the Ruling to the concerns expressed by the Appellant in grounds (IV) and (V) of the appeal (which are also the issues (IV) and (V)). That means, the grounds (IV) and (V) and the issues, therefrom, formulated by the Appellant were completely outside the contemplation and purview or reasoning of the trial Court when it reached its conclusions. The law is trite that an appeal (the grounds and issue therefrom) must be founded on and derived from a valid complaint touching on the ratio decidendi (live issue) of the decision appealed against. See the case of Obosi Vs NIPOST (2013) LPELR -21397 CA, where it was held: “An issue for determination of appeal must flow from or predicate on the ground(s) of appeal, which, in turn, must derive from or challenge the ratio decidendi or live issue in the judgment appealed against.” See also Unilorin Vs Olwawepo (2012)52 WRN 42, held 1; Alataha Vs Asin (1999)5 NWLR (pt. 601)32; Punch Nig. Ltd. Vs Jumsum Nig. Ltd. (2011)12 NWLR pt 1260)162.

— I.G. Mbaba, JCA. Anozia v. Nnani & Anor. (2015) – CA/OW/29/2013

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DEFINITION OF A COMPETENT GROUND OF APPEAL

Aregbesola v. Oyinlola (2001) 9 NWLR (Pt 1253) 627 which states “A ground of appeal is a statement by a party aggrieved with the decision of a Court, complaining that the Court from which the appeal is brought made a mistake in the finding of facts or application of the law to certain set of facts. A ground of appeal is the complaint of the appellant against the judgment of the Court. Such a complaint must be based on the live issue or issue in controversy in the suit once it is succinctly couched and the parties understood and appreciate the meaning of the contents thereof, such a ground of appeal will not be incompetent merely because it is technically defective.”

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ISSUES MUST FALL WITHIN THE GROUNDS OF APPEAL FILED

It is necessary to emphasise the purpose of formulating issues for determination in briefs. Like pleadings to a litigation between the parties, the issues formulated are intended to accentuate the real issues for determination before the Court. The grounds of appeal allege the complaints of errors of law, fact or mixed law and fact against the judgment appealed against. The issues for determination accentuate the issues in the grounds of appeal relevant to the determination of the appeal in the light of the grounds of errors alleged. Hence the issues for determination cannot and should not be at large, but must fall within the purview of the grounds of appeal filed.

— A.G. Karibi-Whyte, JSC. Olowosago V. Adebanjo (SC.134/86, 29 Sep 1988)

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GROUNDS OF APPEAL MUST BE BASED ON THE CONTROVERSY / DISPUTE

In all cases, the subject matter for determination must be an issue in controversy between the parties. The decision appealed against must have decided the issue. In every appeal, the issue or issues in controversy are fixed and circumscribed by a statement of the part of the decision appealed against. Hence, the grounds of appeal must ex necessitate be based on such issues in controversy – See Niger Construction Co. Ltd v. Okugbeni (1987)4 NWLR. (Pt.67) 787. Where a ground of appeal cannot be fixed and circumscribed within a particular issue in controversy in the judgment challenged, such ground of appeal cannot justifiably be regarded as related to the decision. A fortiori, no issue for determination can be formulated therefrom.

— A.G. Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Saraki v. Kotoye (1992) – S.C. 250/1991

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SAFEST THING IS TO APPLY FOR MIXED LAW & FACT

It is usually difficult to out rightly determine whether a ground of a law is purely one of law alone or is of mixed law and fact. Where a counsel is confronted with such difficulty, the safest thing for him to do, is to apply for leave on the ground or grounds of mixed law and facts.

— P.A. Galinje JSC. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Anor. (SC.535/2013(R), 23 June 2017)

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CANNOT FRAME MORE ISSUES THAN THE NUMBER OF GROUNDS

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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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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