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COURT DEALS WITH LIVE ISSUES

Dictum

This court deals with live issues and there is no need beating a dead horse as it will never rise again.

— T. Muhammad, JSC. VAB Petroleum v. Momah (2013) – SC.99/2004

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COURT CANNOT CONSIDER AN ISSUE NOT PLACED BEFORE IT

The settled position of the law is that when an issue is not placed before the court for discourse, the Court has no business whatsoever delving into it and dealing with it. A court of law has no business whatsoever delving into issues that are not properly placed before it for resolution, a Court of law has no business being overgenerous and open-handed, dishing out unsolicited reliefs, a Court of law is neither father Christmas granting unsolicited reliefs, nor Knight errant looking for skirmishes all about the place, a Court of law as an impartial arbiter must confine its self to the reliefs sought and the issues before it submitted for resolution.

– Tijjani Abubakar, JSC. Nwobike v. FRN (2021)

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ONLY ONE ISSUE CAN ARISE FROM A GROUND OF APPEAL

It should, however, be noted that, Appellant had distilled their Issue one from grounds 1, 2 and 5 of the Grounds of the Appeal, and thereafter, distilled the Issue 3 (which the Respondent attacked, mistaking it for Issue 4) from the same ground one of the appeal. Appellants cannot do that, as it would amount to proliferation of issues. Having earlier used the ground one, together with grounds 2 and 5, to distill the issue one, the said ground one was no longer available to donate another issue for the determination of the appeal. We have held repeatedly, that a ground of appeal cannot be split to generate issues for determination, and that, once an issue has been distilled from a given ground of appeal, the said ground of appeal is no longer available to give birth to another issue for determination, either alone or in conjunction with other grounds of appeal. Where a ground of appeal has been used to formulate an issue for determination, using it again to formulate another issue will corrupt that other issue for determination and render it incompetent.

– Mbaba JCA. Aduba v. Aduba (2018)

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DEPARTING FROM PLEADINGS GOES TO NO ISSUE

This was raised by the appellant who claimed that it became his property on dissolution of the partnership and ceased to be partnership property. Having raised it, the onus of proof lay on him to establish by evidence that the property ceased to be partnership property. That is the law. However, he claimed in his testimony that the property was never partnership property but his own personal property. Since this was a departure from the pleadings, it went to no issue. Further, the Court will not allow a party to depart from the case set out in his pleadings. See Abimbola George v. Dominion Flour Mills (1963) All NLR. 71.

— Obaseki, JSC. Salawu Ajide V. Kadiri Kelani (SC.76/1984, 29 Nov 1985)

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ESSENCE OF FORMULATION OF ISSUES – APPEAL SHOULD BE ARGUED ON ISSUES

Before considering the arguments of counsel in this appeal, I consider it a matter of cardinal importance to remind counsel of the often made errors in their argument of returning to the grounds of appeal filed after formulating issues for determination based on the grounds of appeal. All arguments in the appeal after formulation of issues should be based on the issues for determination as formulated. See Adelaja v Fanoiki (1990) 2 NWLR (Part 131) 137. Stricto sensu, no reference thereafter ought to be made to the grounds of appeal filed. The essence of the formulation of issues is to narrow the relevant issues in dispute within those so formulated Attorney-General Bendel State v Aidegun (1989) 4 NWLR (Part 118) 646. Hence as the issues arise from the grounds and may and usually encompass a number of grounds of appeal, it is sufficient to argue the appeal on the issues for determination formulated. See Ogbunyinya v Okudo (No.2)(1990) 4 NWLR (Part 146) 551 SC. The approach adopted by counsel in this appeal by arguing the appeal on the grounds rather than on the issues formulated, suggests that sufficient attention was not paid to the formulation of the issues for determination. Vide Egbe v Alhaji (1990) 1 NWLR (Part 128) 546. –

Karibe-Whyte JSC. Agbai v. Okogbue (1991) – SC 104/1989

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PROLIFERATION OF ISSUES IS CONDEMNED

The appellants formulated eight issues for determination, while the respondents formulated four issues. I will not reproduce the twelve issues here. I do not have such space. But I have enough space to ask what are eight issues doing in an appeal that has only five grounds of appeal? This Court has condemned proliferation of issues. As a matter of procedure, issues should not outnumber grounds of appeal. This is because issues are framed from one or more grounds of appeal, preferably more than one ground of appeal. The reverse position is the practice and it is that grounds of appeal outnumber issues. See generally Attorney-General Bendel State v. Aideyan (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt. 118) 646; Ugo v. Obiekwe (1989) 1 NWLR (Pt. 99) 566; Adelaja v. Farouk (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt. 131) 137; Anonk Lodge Hotels Ltd, v. Mercantile Bank of Nigeria Ltd (1993) 3 NWLR (Pt. 284) 72.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Mozie & Ors. v. Mbamalu & Ors. (2006) – S.C.345/2001

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ISSUE CANVASSED BELOW CAN BE DECIDED BY SUPREME COURT EVEN IF NOT APPEALED

There is however an aspect which offends against the provisions of our Constitution relating to the guaranteed freedom of association. There is no ground of appeal before us by the appellant or a cross-appeal by the respondent covering this point. However, the issue was canvassed in the court below. Unfortunately, the court below expressed no opinion on it. This Court can in exercise of its powers under Section 22 of the Supreme Court Act, Cap. 424 decide the issue.

– Karibe-Whyte JSC. Agbai v. Okogbue (1991) – SC 104/1989

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