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EVALUATION AND PERCEPTION OF EVIDENCE

Dictum

In carrying out its sacrosanct function of evaluation of evidence, the trial judge begins by receiving into its record all relevant evidence on the case or the fact in issue, and this is perception of evidence. He then proceeds to weigh the evidence in the light of the surrounding circumstances; this is evaluation of evidence. The findings of fact by a trial Court involves both perception and evaluation. See ONI vs. JOHNSON (2015) LPELR (24545) 1 at 35-38.

— A.A. Wambai, JCA. Aliyu v. Bulaki (2019) – CA/S/36/2018

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THE APPELLATE COURT IS IN A GOOD POSITION TO EVALUATE EVIDENCE AS THE TRIAL JUDGE

Indeed, if there is a complaint that a trial judge did not make findings based on the evidence placed before him, the appellate court is in as good position as the trial court to do its own evaluation of the evidence contained in the records of appeal. See: Narumai and Sons Nig. Ltd v. Niger Benue Transport Co Ltd (1989) 2 NWLR (Pt.106) 730. And where the appellate court finds that there are inadequacies on the part of the trial judge in reaching his decision or finding that is perverse, the appellate court has a duty to examine the inferences and conclusions drawn by the trial judge and then re-evaluate the evidence in order to come to its own judgment, to see that justice is done. See: Atolagbe v. Shorun (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt.2) 360; Eki v. Giwa (1977) 2 SC, 131; Lion Building Ltd v. Shadipe (1976) 12 SC 135.

— T.S. YAKUBU, JCA. Fayose v ICN (2012) – CA/AE/58/2010

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EVALUATION, ASCRIBING PROBATIVE VALUE, DUTY OF TRIAL JUDGE

Generally, and it is settled law that the evaluation of evidence adduced and ascription of probative value or weight to such evidence is the primary duty of the trial judge who saw and heard the witnesses testified. The trial judge is therefore in a position to access the credibility and watch the demeanour of the witnesses.

– O. Ariwoola, JSC. Tukur v. Uba (2012) – SC.390/2011

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GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE

However, when the evaluation of evidence by a particular trial judge is in issue or being challenged, the guiding principles are as follows: (i) whether the evidence is admissible (ii) whether the evidence is relevant (iii) whether the evidence is credible (iv) whether the evidence is conclusive (v) Whether the evidence is probable than that given by the other Party.

– O. Ariwoola, JSC. Tukur v. Uba (2012) – SC.390/2011

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NOT THE DUTY OF APPEAL COURT TO RE-EVALUATE FACT

Generally, the duties of an appellate court does not involve re-evaluation of the evidence of witnesses. An appellate court may only interfere when the findings are perverse or wrong because of violation of some principles of law or procedure.

– Ogunwumiju JCA. NBC v. Olarewaju (2006) – CA/IL/43/2004

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DUTY OF TRIAL COURT; PERCEPTION & EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE

There is a duty in a trial court to receive all available relevant evidence on an issue. This is perception of evidence. After that there is another duty to weigh that evidence in the context of the surrounding circumstances of the case. This is evaluation of evidence. A finding of fact will entail both perception and evaluation. But very often in actual practice it is difficult to say when perception ends and evaluation begins.

– Oputa JSC. OLUFOSOYE v. OLORUNFEMI (1989)

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CASES SHOULD BE EXAMINED ON MERIT

Every effort must painstakingly be made to do justice. A snappy short cut decision bereft of an examination of the merits of the case settles nothing.

– Gumel, JCA. Ehanire v. Erhunmwuse (2007)

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