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REASON FOR THE FORMULATION OF ISSUE IN AN APPEAL

Dictum

It cannot be over-empahsised that the object of the formulation of issues for determination in an appeal is to enable the parties narrow the issues arising from the grounds of appeal filed in the interest of clarity, brevity and accuracy, thus enabling the court to consider together a number of associated and related grounds of appeal within the issue to which they are related in the determination of the appeal.

– Iguh, JSC. Clay v. Aina (1997)

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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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COURT NOT TO MAKE COMMENT ON ISSUE NOT RAISED

The question whether the 2nd and 3rd respondents were properly joined as “third parties” in the suit has not been raised as an issue in this appeal by any of the parties. I do not, therefore, propose to make any comment on the subject.

— Iguh, JSC. Kyari v Alkali (2001) – SC.224/1993

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WHEN COURT RAISES AN ISSUE, COURT SHOULD DO WELL TO GIVE PARTY OPPORTUNITY TO ADDRESS IT ON THE ISSUE

But there is nothing in the case of Lawrence Okafor & Ors. v. Felix Nnaife & ors. (1972) 3 E.C.S.L.R. 261, which the learned trial Judge relied upon to support his decision to suggest that the court could take up the point and decide it without hearing the parties. Indeed in that case when the Supreme Court felt that point needed to be taken, their Lordships invited counsel on both sides to address the court on the point, before they decided it. It is basic and fundamental in our system of administration of justice that no one can have a decision entered against him without his being heard. This is the essence of the maxim: audi alterant partem. That maxim implies not only that all the parties to be affected by a decision are entitled to be heard in the case on hand before the decision is given but also that if, in the course of hearing, any new point material to the decision arises, each of such parties shall be heard on it before a decision based upon it can rightly be handed down. Quite apart from this, a Judge who in our system must be and be seen as an impartial umpire will be anything but that if he takes up a material point, no matter how clear it may appear, and, without hearing any of the parties to be affected by the decision, decides it. That cannot be even-handed justice. A court ought never raise an issue for either of the parties and, without hearing both parties proceed to base its judgment on it. See Inua v. Nta (1961) 1 ALL N.L.R. 576; Ejowhomu v. Edok-Eter Ltd. (1986) 5 N. W.L.R. (Pt.39) 1. So, the Court of Appeal was right on that ground.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Ugo v Obiekwe (1989) – SC.207/1985

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COURT DEALS WITH LIVE ISSUES

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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FEWER ISSUES ARE ENCOURAGED TO BE RAISED BY PARTIES

Counsel appeared to have worked on the misapprehension that every possible slip raises an issue. The result is that he framed too many issues -nine, for six grounds of appeal. This appears to be a reversal of the usual practice whereby one or two or more grounds raise an issue one ground can never properly raise more than one issue. It must, however, be borne in mind that an “issue” in an appeal must be a proposition of law or fact so cogent, weighty and compelling that a decision on it in favour of a party to the appeal will entitle him to the judgment of the court. This is why, apart from the fact that multiplicity of issues tends to reduce most of them to trifles, experience shows that most appeals are won on a few cogent and substantial issues, well-framed, researched and presented rather than on numerous trifling slips.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Ugo v Obiekwe (1989) – SC.207/1985

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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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