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A COMPETENT APPEAL ARISES FROM A LOWER COURT’S DECISION

Dictum

A competent appeal to this Court from the Court of Appeal, the Court below, arises only from that Court’s decision. In the case at hand where an issue had not been heard and decided by the Court of Appeal, an appeal to this Court, by virtue of Section 233(2) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, does not enure. See THOR V. FIRST CITY MERCHANT BANK LTD (2002) LPELR – 8061 (SC) and OYAKHIRE V. STATE (2006) LPELR-2863 (SC).

— M.D. Muhammad, JSC. Friday Charles v. The State of Lagos (SC.CR/503/2020, Friday March 31 2023)

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ISSUE MUST BE DISTILLED FROM GROUND OF APPEAL

The settled law is that an issue formulated for determination must be distilled from a ground of appeal, and where it has no ground of appeal to relate to, then it has no part to play in the determination of the appeal, and so the appellate court has no option than to disregard the said issue. Issue (1) in the appellant’s brief of argument also becomes incompetent and it is discountenanced.

– Mukhtar JSC. Nwankwo v. Ecumenical (2007)

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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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APPEALING MIXED LAW AND FACT REQUIRES LEAVE OF COURT

Where the law or rule prescribed the procedure to be taken in the performance of an act is not complied with, the performance of the act in the circumstance is a nullity. Section 233 (3) (a) provides that subject to the provisions of “Subsection (2) of this section, an appeal shall lie from the decisions of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court with leave of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court.” In other words, a party desiring to appeal the decision of the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court on mixed law and facts or facts is required to obtain the leave of the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court to file the notice and grounds of appeal.

— W.S.N. Onnoghen, JSC. SPDC v Agbara (2019) – SC.731/2017(R)

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ISSUE MUST ARISE FROM GROUNDS OF APPEAL

It suffices to state, firstly, that an appellate court can only hear and decide on issues raised on the grounds of appeal filed before it and an issue not covered by any ground of appeal is incompetent and will be struck out. – Iguh, JSC. Oshatoba v. Olujitan (2000)

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ISSUE DERIVED FROM BOTH COMPETENT & INCOMPETENT GROUND

It is also settled law that an issue for determination can only be distilled from a competent ground or competent grounds of appeal. As observed earlier, in a situation where an issue for determination is derived from both competent and incompetent grounds, the issue is liable to be struck out for incompetence.

– Kekere-Ekun JSC. CITEC v. Francis (2021) – SC.720/2017 CITEC v. Francis (2021) – SC.720/2017

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