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ISSUE: NATURE OF ISSUE & GROUNDS OF APPEAL

Dictum

It is trite that a Respondent may not formulate issues outside the grounds of appeal contained in the Appellant’s Notice of Appeal, in this case contained in Pages 337 – 346 of the printed records of Appeal. Issues for determination must be based on and correlate with the grounds of appeal and should be an answer to the grounds of appeal. An issue may encompass one or more grounds of appeal, it is incompetent where the issues are not based on the grounds of appeal, they are irrelevant. Issues for determination in an appeal is akin to pleadings in the lower Court, hence adherence to the strict observance of the rules on formulating issues for determination. If all the above constituent elements or requirements of the doctrine are not fully established, the plea of estoppel per rem judicatam can not be sustained.

– Nwaoma Uwa, JCA. NOGA v. NICON (2007)

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APPEAL COURT CAN FORMULATE ISSUES

This Court and indeed an Appeal Court has the power to adopt or formulate issues that in its view would determine the real complaints in an appeal.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Ukeje v. Ukeje (2014)

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WHAT IS AN OMNIBUS GROUND?

In plethora of decided cases, a ground of appeal that postulates that the decision of the trial Court is against the weight of evidence or cannot be supported by the weight of evidence is christened an Omnibus Ground. It also implies that there is no evidence which if accepted would support the finding of the trial Court.

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

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GROUNDS WHERE NO ISSUES ARISE FROM ARE DEEMED STRUCK OUT

It is trite that by the rules of practice and procedure, in particular, of the appellate Courts, appeals are to be determined on the issues distilled from the competent grounds of appeal raised against the judgment being appealed. Therefore, any ground of appeal from which no issue has been formulated is deemed to have been abandoned and is liable to be discountenanced and struck out by the Court. Indeed, any such ground is lifeless and may not need a specific order to have it struck out yet should still be struck out. In this appeal, no issue has been formulated from grounds 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 of the Amended Notice of Appeal. Meaning that those grounds are deemed abandoned. Accordingly, the said grounds 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 are struck out.

— O. Ariwoola, JSC. Galadima v. State (2017) – SC.70/2013

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EVALUATION OF FACT IS A GROUND OF FACT

Assessment or evaluation of evidence is a ground of fact; it requires the examination of documents used in securing the debt or payment thereof.

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

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WHEN COURT RAISES AN ISSUE, COURT SHOULD DO WELL TO GIVE PARTY OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS IT ON THE ISSUE

But there is nothing in the case of Lawrence Okafor & Ors. v. Felix Nnaife & ors. (1972) 3 E.C.S.L.R. 261, which the learned trial Judge relied upon to support his decision to suggest that the court could take up the point and decide it without hearing the parties. Indeed in that case when the Supreme Court felt that point needed to be taken, their Lordships invited counsel on both sides to address the court on the point, before they decided it. It is basic and fundamental in our system of administration of justice that no one can have a decision entered against him without his being heard. This is the essence of the maxim: audi alterant partem. That maxim implies not only that all the parties to be affected by a decision are entitled to be heard in the case on hand before the decision is given but also that if, in the course of hearing, any new point material to the decision arises, each of such parties shall be heard on it before a decision based upon it can rightly be handed down. Quite apart from this, a Judge who in our system must be and be seen as an impartial umpire will be anything but that if he takes up a material point, no matter how clear it may appear, and, without hearing any of the parties to be affected by the decision, decides it. That cannot be even-handed justice. A court ought never raise an issue for either of the parties and, without hearing both parties proceed to base its judgment on it. See Inua v. Nta (1961) 1 ALL N.L.R. 576; Ejowhomu v. Edok-Eter Ltd. (1986) 5 N. W.L.R. (Pt.39) 1. So, the Court of Appeal was right on that ground.

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

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A RESPONDENT CANNOT FRAME ISSUE OUTSIDE THE APPELLANT’S GROUNDS, EXCEPT CROSS-APPEAL

My close study of 1st respondent’s brief shows that it is only the first issue that is covered by ground three of the appellant’s notice of appeal. Hence the second and third issues formulated by the 1st respondent do not arise from any of the grounds of appeal. A respondent who does not cross-appeal or file a respondent’s notice cannot frame issue outside the grounds of appeal filed by the appellant. Indeed, none of the last two issues for determination as formulated by the 1st respondent has any relevance to the grounds of appeal. In Atanda v. Ajani (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 111) 511 at 543-544 the Supreme Court per Nnaemeka –Agu, JSC held: “This court has stated a number of times that a respondent’s primary duty is to support the judgment appealed against by showing that the contentions of the appellant as to the grounds of errors are without merit. Also, as they have not cross-appealed, they cannot formulate issues as it were, in nubibus – hanging in the skies. They can only either adopt the issue as formulated by the appellants based on the grounds of appeal before court or, at best, recast them by giving them a slant favourable to the respondent’s point of view, but without departing from the complaint’s raised by the grounds of appeal.” See also Idika v. Erisi (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 78) 563, 579, 580.

— S. Galadima, JCA. Jadesimi & Anor. v. Egbe (2003)

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