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

Dictum

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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COURTS OF LAW HAS A DUTY TO PRONOUNCE ON ALL ISSUES RAISED

The Apex Court had occasion to emphasize the essentiality of lower courts pronouncing on all issues properly raised before them. It held, in the case of C.N. Okpala & Sons Ltd v Nigerian Breweries PLC (2018) 9 NWLR Part 1623 Page 16 at 28 Para G-H per Okoro JSC, as follows: “In several decisions of this court, it has been repeatedly held that all lower courts, as a general rule, must pronounce on all issues properly placed before them for determination in order, apart from the issue of fair hearing, not to risk the possibility that the only issue or issues not pronounced upon are crucial, failure to pronounce on them will certainly lead to a miscarriage of justice. There is therefore need for every court or tribunal to make findings and pronounce on material and fundamental issues canvassed before it by the parties because failure to do so, as I said earlier, may result in a miscarriage of justice.”

— O. Adefope-Okojie, JCA. Kanu v FRN (2022) – CA/ABJ/CR/625/2022

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ISSUE REFORMULATED BY COURT MUST BE ROOTED IN THE GROUNDS OF APPEAL

I have no doubt at all, that a court has the inherent power, in the interest of justice, to reject, modify or re-frame issues distilled for the determination of a case before it. However, the exercise of this power is not open ended or limitless, the issue so formulated must be rooted in the grounds of appeal, the Court must ensure that any issue so modified, or re-formulated comes within the ambit of the complaint contained in the grounds of appeal.

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

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ISSUES ARE ARGUED NOT GROUNDS OF APPEAL

I think I ought to stress in the first place that it is the issues distilled from all appellant’s grounds of appeal that may be argued in the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court and not the grounds of appeal.

– Iguh, JSC. Oshatoba v. Olujitan (2000)

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COURT CANNOT PRONOUNCE ON ISSUE NOT RAISED

Nnaemeka-Agu, J.S.C., expressed similar views in a recent case Niger Progress Ltd. v. North East Line Corporation (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt.107) 68 at p. 100 viz: “In the instant case whether or not the writ was duly indorsed… is not only new, but one which should have been resolved one way or the other in the Court of trial. It ought to have occurred to learned counsel that this Court cannot make any pronouncement on the endorsement or Service of the Writ when such an issue was never placed before the lower Court … even a notice to raise a point not raised in the Court below … can never serve as a licence for introducing new and separate issues.”

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A PARTY CANNOT CANVASS ARGUMENT OUTSIDE OF ISSUES FRAMED

It is clear that both issues are confined to the competence of the plaintiffs/respondents to sue in the matter. As they do not extend to the competence of the defendants/appellants to defend the action, I shall not go there. This is because parties are, bound by the issues formulated in their briefs. In other words, a party cannot advance an argument outside the issue or issues formulated in the brief without leave of Court. This stems from the larger ambit of our adjectival law that parties are, bound by their briefs.

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

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WHAT AMOUNTS TO PROLIFERATION OF ISSUES IN AN APPEAL

Now, what would in law amount to proliferation of issues in an appeal is no longer a vexed issue as it has been pronounced upon severally by the appellate Courts, including the apex Court. While it is true that an issue for determination must flow from the ground(s) of appeal and that this Court has the power to formulate issues for determination in appropriate and deserving circumstances or to re-formulate or modify the issues formulated by the parties, it is well settled law that an Appellant, as well as a Respondent, is not permitted or allowed to raise issues in excess of the grounds of appeal and that where the number of issues formulated are more than the number of the grounds of appeal it amounts to nothing but a proliferation of issues, which in law is not acceptable. See Dr. Arthur Agwuncha Nwankwo & Ors. v. Alhaji Umaru Yar’Adua & Ors. (2010) 12 NWLR (Pt. 1209) 518. See also Unilorin v. Oluwadare (2003) 3 NWLR (Pt. 808) 557;Padawa v. Jatau (2003) 5 NWLR (Pt. 813) 243; Sogbesan v. Ogunbiyi (2006) 4 NWLR (Pt. 969) 19; Agu v. Ikewibe (1991) 3 NWLR (Pt. 130) 385;Adelusola & Ors v. Akinde & Ors (2004) 12 NWLR (Pt. 887) 295.

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. University of Lagos v. Mbaso (2018) – CA/L/775/2016

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