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ISSUES MUST FALL WITHIN THE GROUNDS OF APPEAL FILED

Dictum

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.

— A.G. Karibi-Whyte, JSC. Olowosago V. Adebanjo (SC.134/86, 29 Sep 1988)

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WHERE NO LEAVE OBTAINED, ISSUES AND ARGUMENTS THEREON WILL BE STRUCK OUT

It is true that once no leave was shown to have been obtained by the Appellant before filing the grounds of appeal alleging error of facts based on evidence the said grounds together with the issues distilled therefrom and the arguments proffered thereon are liable to be struck out. See Nwadike v. Ibekwe (1987) 4 NWLR (pt. 67) 718; Ogbechie v. Onochie (1986) 2 NWLR (pt. 23) 484; Ifediorah v. Ume (1988) 2 NWLR (pt. 74) 5.

— M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. Ugo v. Ugo (2007) – CA/A/110/2007

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CANNOT FRAME MORE ISSUES THAN THE NUMBER OF GROUNDS

The law is well settled that in practice, there should be no proliferation of issues. Therefore out of three grounds of appeal, an appellant cannot formulate or frame four issues. In other words, a party cannot frame more issues than the number of grounds of appeal.

– Adumein JCA. Adewoyin v. Executive Governor (2011)

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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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WHEN IS A GROUND OF APPEAL SAID TO BE VAGUE

The case of Hassan v. Buhari and Ors., (2022) LPELR – 56677 (CA), where this Court per Abiru, JCA, explained what constitutes a vague ground of appeal, as follows: “Now, a ground of appeal is said to be vague and imprecise when it is couched in a manner which does not provide any explicit standard for its being understood or when what is stated is so uncertain that it is not susceptible of being understood. It may also be considered vague when the complaint is not defined in relation to the subject or it is not defined in relation to the subject or it is not particularized or the particulars are clearly irrelevant – Central Bank of Nigeria v. Okojie (2002) 8 NWLR (Pt. 768) 48, Governor, Ekiti State v. Osayomi (2005) 2 NWLR (Pt. 909) 67, Imam v. Sheriff (2005) 4 NWLR (Pt. 914) 80 and Nwabueze v. Nwora (2005) 8 NWLR (Pt. 926) 1. In other words, where the complaint in a ground of appeal is discernible vis-a-vis the judgment of a lower Court, the ground of appeal cannot be said to be vague or imprecise”.

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GROUND OF APPEAL MUST BE PREMISED ON RATIO DECIDENDI OF COURT

I have looked at the short Ruling of the trial Court on pages 29 and 30 of the Records, and could see no reference in the Ruling to the concerns expressed by the Appellant in grounds (IV) and (V) of the appeal (which are also the issues (IV) and (V)). That means, the grounds (IV) and (V) and the issues, therefrom, formulated by the Appellant were completely outside the contemplation and purview or reasoning of the trial Court when it reached its conclusions. The law is trite that an appeal (the grounds and issue therefrom) must be founded on and derived from a valid complaint touching on the ratio decidendi (live issue) of the decision appealed against. See the case of Obosi Vs NIPOST (2013) LPELR -21397 CA, where it was held: “An issue for determination of appeal must flow from or predicate on the ground(s) of appeal, which, in turn, must derive from or challenge the ratio decidendi or live issue in the judgment appealed against.” See also Unilorin Vs Olwawepo (2012)52 WRN 42, held 1; Alataha Vs Asin (1999)5 NWLR (pt. 601)32; Punch Nig. Ltd. Vs Jumsum Nig. Ltd. (2011)12 NWLR pt 1260)162.

— I.G. Mbaba, JCA. Anozia v. Nnani & Anor. (2015) – CA/OW/29/2013

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PRINCIPLES TO CONSIDER TO DETERMINE GROUND OF LAW OR FACT

For the purposes of elucidation however, I think I should re-state some of these principles.
1. The first and foremost is for one to examine thoroughly the grounds of appeal in the case concerned to see whether they reveal a misunderstanding by the lower court of the law, or a misapplication of the law to the facts already proved or admitted.
2. Where a ground complains of a misunderstanding by the lower court of the law or a misapplication of the law to the facts already proved or admitted, it is a ground of law.
3. Where a ground of appeal questions the evaluation of facts before the application of the law, it is a ground of mixed law and. fact.
4. A ground which raises a question of pure fact is certainly a ground of fact.
5. Where the lower court finds that particular events occurred although there is no admissible evidence before the court that the event did in fact occur, the ground is that of law.
6. Where admissible evidence has been led, the assessment of that evidence is entirely for that court. If there is a complaint about the assessment of the admissible evidence, the ground is that, of fact.
7. Where the lower court approached the construction of a legal term of art in a statute on the erroneous basis that the statutory wording bears its ordinary meaning, the ground is that of law.
8. Where the lower court or tribunal applying the law to the facts in a process which requires the skill of a trained lawyer, this is a question of law.
9. Where the lower court reaches a conclusion which cannot reasonably be drawn from the facts as found, the appeal court will assume that there has been a misconception of the law. This is a ground of law.
10. Where the conclusion of the lower court is one of possible resolutions but one which the appeal court would not have reached if siesed of the issue, that conclusion is not an error in law.
11. Where a trial court fails to apply the facts which it has found corrective to the circumstance of the case before it and there is an appeal to a court of appeal which alleges a misdirection in the exercise of the application by the trial court, the ground of appeal alleging the misdirection is a ground of law not of fact.
12. When the Court of Appeal finds such application to be wrong and decides to make its own findings such findings made by the court of appeal are issues of fact and not of law.
13. Where the appeal court interferes in such a case and there is a further appeal to a higher court of appeal on the application of the facts, the grounds of appeal alleging such misdirection by the lower court of appeal is a ground of law not of fact.
14. A ground of appeal which complains that the decision of the trial court is against evidence or weight of evidence or contains unresolved contradictions in the evidence of witnesses., it is purely a ground of fact (which requires leave for an appeal to a court of appeal or a further court of appeal).

– Niki Tobi, JSC. Calabar CC v. Ekpo (2008)

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