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SUPREME COURT CANNOT CONSIDER ISSUE WHICH LOWER COURT DID NOT CONSIDER

Dictum

There is no averment to that effect in appellants’ statement of claim in the Court of trial, and the issue was not even raised on appeal. None of the Justices of the Court of Appeal referred the issue in their judgments. Since we have not the benefit of the opinion of the Court below on the issue, it is inappropriate for this Court to consider it. – See United Marketing Co. v. Kara (1963) 1 WLR. 523; Ahamath v Umma (1931) A.C. 799.

— Karibe-Whyte JSC. Okoye v Dumez & Ors. (1985) – SC.89/1984

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PARTIES ISSUES ARE TO BE CONSIDERED

It is trite that issues raised by parties ought to be considered and determined. – Nwodo, JCA. OLAM v. Intercontinental Bank (2009)

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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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A RESPONDENT CANNOT FRAME ISSUE OUTSIDE THE APPELLANT’S GROUNDS, EXCEPT CROSS-APPEAL

My close study of 1st respondent’s brief shows that it is only the first issue that is covered by ground three of the appellant’s notice of appeal. Hence the second and third issues formulated by the 1st respondent do not arise from any of the grounds of appeal. A respondent who does not cross-appeal or file a respondent’s notice cannot frame issue outside the grounds of appeal filed by the appellant. Indeed, none of the last two issues for determination as formulated by the 1st respondent has any relevance to the grounds of appeal. In Atanda v. Ajani (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 111) 511 at 543-544 the Supreme Court per Nnaemeka –Agu, JSC held: “This court has stated a number of times that a respondent’s primary duty is to support the judgment appealed against by showing that the contentions of the appellant as to the grounds of errors are without merit. Also, as they have not cross-appealed, they cannot formulate issues as it were, in nubibus – hanging in the skies. They can only either adopt the issue as formulated by the appellants based on the grounds of appeal before court or, at best, recast them by giving them a slant favourable to the respondent’s point of view, but without departing from the complaint’s raised by the grounds of appeal.” See also Idika v. Erisi (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 78) 563, 579, 580.

— S. Galadima, JCA. Jadesimi & Anor. v. Egbe (2003)

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DUTY OF AN APPELLATE COURT TO EITHER ADOPT, REFRAME OR FORMULATE NEW ISSUES IN THE DETERMINATION OF AN APPEAL

“In Considering the issues for determination in an appeal formulated in the briefs of argument of the parties, an appellate court can, either adopt or reframe or even formulate new issues, in the determination of the appeal. This is the law as enunciated in the case of FRN V. Ogbegolu (2006) 18 NWLR (PT. 1010) P. 188 @ 225 where it was held that, after examining the issues for determination, it is the duty of an appellate court to either adopt those in the briefs of argument or formulate new ones which he believes would determined the real complaint or grievances of the appellant. See also Adaku Vs Ajeh (1994) 5 NWLR (PT. 346) P. 582 and Ikegwuha V. Ohawuchin (1996) 3 NWLR (PT. 435) P. 146.”

— I.S. Bdliya, JCA. Umar Ibrahim v Nasiru Danladi Mu’azu & 2 Ors. (2022) – CA/G/317/2019

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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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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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