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MEANINGLESS AND VAGUE GROUND OF APPEAL WILL BE STRUCK OUT

Dictum

My Lords, I have for the sake of doing substantial justice to the parties taken time to read over and over again the above ground 6 and the more I read it the more meaningless it comes across to me. Both the grounds and the particulars taken together reveal no complaint against the judgment of the Court below when not a single rule or regulation not identified and evaluated by the Court below in its judgment was disclosed in the ground and its particulars. I therefore cannot but agree with the apt and unassailable submissions of the learned counsel for the 1st -4th Respondent that ground 6 defies all understanding and is thus vague and incompetent and I so hold. This objection is hereby upheld and consequently ground 6 is hereby struck out for being incompetent.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

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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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PURPOSE OF OMNIBUS GROUND OF APPEAL

An omnibus ground of appeal is therefore designed to allow a complaint on evaluation of evidence and it encompasses complaint of improper evaluation of evidence. It implies that the judgment of the trial court cannot be supported by the weight of the evidence adduced by the successful party which the trial judge either wrongly accepted or that the inference drawn or conclusion reached by the trial Judge based on the accepted evidence cannot be justified. An omnibus ground of appeal also implies that there is no evidence which if accepted would support the findings of the trial judge.

– Ogwuegbu JSC. Ajibona v. Kolawole (1996)

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ISSUES SHOULD NOT BE MORE THAN THE GROUND OF APPEAL

The principle of law is that the grounds of appeal should in no circumstance be less than the issues for determination. Since the Respondent did not marry his issues with the grounds of appeal, I am left with one option – to strike out the Respondent’s third issue. Issue three in the Respondent’s brief is hereby struck out as it does not relate to any of grounds one or two of the appellant’s grounds of appeal. (See Omo v. JSC Delta State (2000) 7 SC (Pt. 11) page 1.

— N.S. Ngwuta, JSC. Henry Nwokearu V. The State (SC.227/2011, 24 MAY 2013)

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THERE CAN BE NO ISSUE WHERE THERE IS NO GROUND OF APPEAL

Issues for determination must therefore be based on, correlate and be tied to a ground of appeal. The grounds of appeal must reflect the grievance of the appellant against the judgment of the trial court. In the absence of a valid ground of appeal any issue formulated is necessarily incompetent and is liable to be struck out. Likewise any ground of appeal not related to any issue is deemed abandoned – becomes irrelevant to the appeal and is likely to be struck out.

– ADEKEYE, JCA. NOGA v. NICON (2007)

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A SINGLE GROUND OF APPEAL CAN SUSTAIN AN APPEAL

It is further regular even if one only of the four grounds of appeal is found to involve a question of law, as that ground can on its own sustain the appeal. – Adekeye JSC. Nwaolisah v. Nwabufoh (2011)

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WHEN GROUNDS OF APPEAL ARE ONE OF LAW

In NNPC v. FAMFA OIL LTD. (2012) 17 N.W.L.R. (Part 1328) S.C. 148, this Court, while faced with a similar objection to the grounds of appeal, went ahead to deal extensively with the criteria for identifying when a ground of appeal is one of law, of fact, or of mixed fact and law. Rhodes-Vivours J.S.C., at Pp. 175 – 176, Paragraphs C – H, as follows: “…. In Nwadike v. Ibekwe (Supra), this Court explained further that: (a) It is an error in law if the adjudicating Tribunal took into account some wrong criteria in reaching its conclusion. (b) Several issues that can be raised on legal interpretation of deeds, documents, terms of arts and inference drawn there from are grounds of law. (c) Where a ground deals merely with a matter of inference, even if it be inference of fact, a ground framed from such is a ground of law. (d) Where a tribunal states the law in point wrongly, it commits an error in law. (e) Where the complaint is that there was no evidence or no admissible evidence upon which a finding or decision was based, same is regarded as a ground of law. (f) If a Judge considers matters which are not before him and relies on them for the exercise of his discretion, he will be exercising same on wrong principles and this will be a question of law…..”

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