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DISCRETIONARY POWERS JUDICIALLY EXERCISED

Dictum

Discretionary powers judicially and judiciously exercised cannot be interfered with. One must let the decision of the lower court be. – M.D. Muhammad, J.C.A. Shona-Jason v Omega Air (2005) – CA/L/418/2000

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POWER TO TRANSFER CASE TO ANOTHER DIVISION IS DISCRETIONARY – FHC

There is no doubt that the starting point with regards to the territorial jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is the statutorily codified and judicially noticed principle that the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is one and nationwide. It is also however settled that same has been divided into Judicial Divisions and where a crime has been committed, such crime ought to be prosecuted in the Judicial Division of the Federal High Court in the State or States where any of the elements of the crime was allegedly committed, or one that is close to it, subject to the power of transfer, by which a matter may be tried outside the State of commission upon compelling reasons to so do. The foregoing is in my view the import of the Provisions of Sections, Section 45 of the Federal high Court Act; and Sections 93, 98, 385, 386 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, relied on by both parties. — J.Y. Tukur, JCA. Fani-Kayode v. FRN & Ors. (2019) – CA/L/722C/2018

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THE EXERCISE OF DISCRETION IS BASED ON FACTS

In ADIGWE v. FRN (2015) 18 NWLR (pt. 1490) 105 this Court reiterated the point that “the exercise of discretion is not based on mere judgment of the person doing so but upon facts on circumstances necessary for the proper exercise of that discretion”. See also OYEGUN v. NZERIBE (2010) 41 NSCQR 127 at 147.

— E. Eko, JSC. Francis v. FRN (2020) – SC.810/2014

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EXERCISE OF JUDICIAL DISCRETION IS TO ATTAIN JUSTICE

I would like to add that in the exercise of judicial discretion the primary objective of the court must be to attain substantial justice. Acting judicially imports consideration of the interest of both parties and weighing them in order to arrive at a just and fair decision. See United Spinners Ltd. v. Chartered Bank Ltd. (2001) 14 NWLR (Pt. 732) 195 at 216.

— M. Peter-Odili, JCA. CAC v. Ayedun (2005) – CA/A/152/2004

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DISCRETION OF TRIAL COURT WILL ONLY BE INTERFERED WITH WHERE IT IS ABSURD

In ANYAH v. AFRICAN NEWSPAPER OF NIG. LTD. [1992] NWLR (Pt. 247) Pg.319; (1992) LPELR-511 (SC) Pg.20-21, Paras. G – A the Supreme Court of Nigeria pertinently stated that: “It is not in all cases that an appeal Court will interfere with the exercise of discretion by a trial judge, simply because it did not favour one of the parties litigating before him. The Court will not interfere with the exercise of discretion in the absence of proof that it was wrongly exercised. You cannot lay down hard and fast rules as to the exercise of judicial discretion by a Court, for the moment you do that, the discretion is fettered.” See also the decision of the Supreme Court in OLATUBOSUN v. TEXACO NIG. PLC (2012) LPELR-7805 (SC) Pg. 18, Paras. C – D where it was held that “…an appellate Court like ours will not interfere with the exercise of discretion of the Court below merely because this Court would have acted differently…This Court will only interfere where the discretion exercised is manifestly wrong, arbitrary, reckless and injudicious.” Also, in FALEYE and ORS v. DADA and ORS (2016) LPELR- 40297 (SC) Pg.33-34, Paras. E – C, the Supreme Court of Nigeria per MUHAMMAD JSC held as follows: “…This Court has stated it times without number that it is none of its functions or indeed that of an appellate Court to substitute its own views of the evidence for those of the trial Court that is better placed to deal with those matters. The appellate High Court could only have interfered with findings of facts of the trial Customary Court when the findings are perverse and/or consequent upon improper exercise of judicial discretion further resulting in miscarriage of justice…”

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APPELLATE COURT WILL ORDINARILY NOT INTERFERE WITH THE DISCRETION OF THE TRIAL COURT

Where the trial Judge in his Judgment thinks it is proper to exercise his discretion in a particular way, an Appellate Court would ordinarily not interfere with the exercise of such discretion unless it is established that the discretion was exercised in total disregard to the materials before the Court. A judicial and judicious exercise of discretion by a trial Court cannot to be set aside by the Appellate Court, but where the Lower Court acted under a misconception of the law or under a misapprehension of facts or where such exercise of discretion occasioned a miscarriage of justice against the Appellant, the appellate Court will readily intervene to redress the wrong, an Appellate Court will however not interfere with the decision of the trial Court merely because it would have exercised such discretion differently.

— T. Abubakar JCA. Olukoya Ogungbeje Esq. v. EFCC (CA/L/1408/2017, 18 Jul 2018)

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APPELLATE COURT INTERFERENCE WITH TRIAL COURTS DISCRETION

It needs to be emphasised here that an appellate Court will usually not interfere with an exercise of discretion in its quest to obtain substantial justice except where it is satisfied that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or illegally or without due regard to all necessary consideration having regard to the circumstances of the particular case. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

Even then, it is well – established that an appellate Court will not, in principle, interfere with the exercise of discretion by the trial Court unless that discretion is shown to have been exercised upon wrong principles or that the exercise was tainted with some illegality or substantial irregularity. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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