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ISSUE MUST ARISE FROM A GROUND OF APPEAL

Dictum

I scarcely need to repeat that every issue in an appeal must arise from one or more grounds of appeal. It is usual for one, two or more grounds of appeal to constitute an issue, not the other way round. The reverse could not have arisen if counsel had done well to remember what an issue in an appeal really is.

– Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Petroleum v. Owodunni (1991)

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ISSUES FORMULATED ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE ARGUMENTATIVE

Issues for determination are formulated’ and not supposed to be argumentative’ as formulated. The parties are expected to coin their issues for determination as precise as possible with professional elegance and brevity but without sacrificing its essential messages. By practice, issues formulated are different from issues argued or arguments on issues. Arguments or analogies on issues formulated are not to be contained in the issues so formulated. Arguments and analogies are to be supplied separately to amplify on the issues so formulated. The Respondents’ Counsel is found inadequate in this regard for formulating convoluted issues for determination at pages 7-8 of the Respondents’ Brief.

— S.D. Bage, JSC. Onyekwuluje v Animashaun (2019) – SC.72/2006

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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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PURPOSE OF ISSUE FORMULATION IN AN APPEAL

It is necessary to emphasise the purpose of formulating issues for determination in briefs. Like pleadings to a litigation between the parties the issues formulated are intended to accentuate the real issues for determination before the Court. The grounds of appeal allege the complaints of errors of law, fact or mixed law and fact against the judgment appealed against. The issues for determination accentuate the issues in the grounds of appeal relevant to the determination of the appeal in the light of the grounds of errors alleged. Hence the issues for determination cannot and should not be at large, but must fall within the purview of the grounds of appeal filed.

— Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Adebanjo v Olowosoga (1988) – SC 134/1986

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ISSUES RAISED BUT NOT RESPONDED TO IS ADMITTED

The consequence of failing to respond to the adversary’s submissions on pivotal issues was amply stated by this Court, in Alhaji M. K. Gujba V. First Bank Of Nigeria Plc & Anor (2011) LPELR 8971 (CA) per Obande Ogbuinya JCA at Pages 42-43 Para B-A, where His Lordship held: “The learned Counsel for the Respondents, in his infinite wisdom, did not respond to the submissions of the learned counsel for the Appellant on this point. In law, that is a costly failure. The telling effect of that failure to answer to the Appellant’s counsel’s submissions is that the Respondents are deemed to have admitted them. On this principle of law, I draw on the case of NWANKWO v. YAR’ADUA (2010) 12 NWLR (pt.1209) 518 at 586, where Onnoghen, JSC, held:- ‘It is clear from the issues formulated and argued by learned senior counsel for the 1st and 2nd Respondents in their brief of argument do not include argument on appellant’s said issue No. 8. It is settled law that where an opponent fails or neglects to counter any argument or issue validly raised in the brief of argument or during oral presentation, the issue not so contested is deemed conceded by the defaulting party. I therefore, in the circumstance, hold that the 1st and 2nd Respondents by not reacting to the issue in question, have conceded the issue as formulatedand argued by the learned counsel for the Appellant.’ It follows that the Respondents played into the hands of the Appellant, on this issue, when they failed to join issues with the arguments of the Appellant therein. This omission, whether intention or inadvertent, makes the appellant hold an ace on this issue.”

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

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PROPER APPROACH TO ISSUES OF FACT

In Adeyeye v. Ajiboye (1987) 3 N.W.L.R. (Pt.61) 432 at p.451, I referred to what I thought was the proper approach to the issues of fact and findings of fact by trial Courts viz: “The proper approach for any trial court is first set out the claim or claims; then the pleadings, then the Issues arising from those pleadings. Having decided on the issues in dispute the trial Judge will then consider the evidence in proof of each issue, then decide on which side to believe and this has got to be a belief based on the preponderance of credible evidence and the probabilities of the case. After this the trial Judge will then record his logical and consequential findings of fact. It is after such a finding that the trial court can then discuss the applicable law against the background of his findings of fact.”

— Oputa JSC. Onwuka & Ors. V. Ediala & Anor. (SC.18/1987, 20 January 1989)

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WHAT IS AN ISSUE?

In the case of Olafisoye v. FRN (2004) LPELR-2553 (SC), the Supreme Court per Tobi, JSC, held that: “An issue is the question in dispute between the parties necessary for the determination of the Court, see Chief Ejowhomu v. Edok-Eter Mandalis Limited (1986) 5 NWLR (Pt. 39) 1. An issue which is usually raised by way of a question is usually a proposition of law or fact in dispute between the parties, necessary for the determination by the Court; a determination of which will normally affect the result of the appeal. See Adejumo v. Ayantegbe (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 110) 417. Issues for determination of appeal, are short questions raised against one or more grounds of appeal and are meant to be a guide to the arguments and submission to be advanced in support of the grounds of appeal. It is a succinct and precise question either of law or of fact for determination by the Court, see Imonikhe v. The Attorney-General of Bendel State (1992) 6 NWLR (Pt. 311) 370. An issue is a disputed point or question to which parties in an action have narrowed their several allegations and upon which they are desirous of obtaining either decision of the Court on question of law, or of the Court on question of fact. See Chief Okoromaka v. Chief Odiri (1995) 7 NWLR (Pt. 408) 411”.

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