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NOT MORE THAN ONE ISSUE FROM A GROUND OF APPEAL

Dictum

It is inappropriate to distill more than one issue from one ground of appeal. – Nwodo, JCA. OLAM v. Intercontinental Bank (2009)

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REQUIREMENT FOR INDICATION OF WHAT GROUND AN ISSUE WAS RAISED FROM

The primary purpose of the requirement that counsel should indicate from which of the grounds of an appeal issues raised in their brief of argument are derived, is to narrow and specifically identify the grounds from which such issues were distilled so as to readily show if they are valid and competent issues derived from competent grounds of the appeal. With the clear and express indication of the grounds of the appeal from which the two (2) issues raised in the Appellant’s brief, are distilled, the issues cannot reasonably be said to have been formulated from the other grounds not indicated in the issues. Beyond argument, the law still remains that grounds of appeal from which no issue was distilled or formulated (or indicated to have been distilled) are deemed abandoned.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

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EASY WAY TO IDENTIFY A GROUND OF FACT FROM A GROUND OF LAW

In Enterprise Bank Ltd. v. Deaconess F. Bose Aroso & 5 ors. Suit No.166/2003 judgment delivered on the 12th of April, 2013: “Before making the distinction between grounds of law, mixed law and facts, and facts, first of all read carefully the ground of appeal and its particulars to understand thoroughly the substance of the complaint. Find out if the ground of appeal contests facts. If it does it can only be a ground of facts or mixed law and facts. Once facts are not in dispute. That is to say facts are settled, a ground of appeal can never be on facts or mixed law and facts. The ground of appeal can only complain of the wrong application of the law to settled facts and that is a ground of law. It is very easy to identify a ground of appeal on facts.”

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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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ISSUE CANNOT ARISE OUT OF NONEXISTENT GROUND OF APPEAL

The Respondent seeks to attack the ground of appeal as part of its response to issue no (i). The purpose of issues for determination, is to identify what the issues in the grounds of appeal are. An issue cannot be formulated out of a non-existent or invalid ground of appeal. Therefore, all the arguments canvassed by the Respondent attacking the legitimacy of the two grounds of appeal which were not predicated on the grounds of appeal filed in this appeal, are discountenanced and struck out.

– Yahaya, JCA. Petroleum Resources v. SPDC (2021)

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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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COMPLAIN FOR MISAPPLICATION OF THE LAW IS A GROUND OF LAW

Where the complaint in the ground of appeal is one of misunderstanding by the court of the law or misapplication of the law to the facts already established, it is a ground of Law. Where the ground of appeal disputes or questions the evaluation of facts by the court before applying the law, it is a ground of mixed law and fact.

– Rhodes-Vivour JSC. Nwaolisah v. Nwabufoh (2011)

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