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PROOF REQUIRED UNDER EVIDENCE ACT NOT APPLICABLE TO ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS

Dictum

Proof as required under the Evidence Act is not applicable in arbitral proceedings as provided for in Section 256(1)(a) of the Act which says that: “This Act shall apply to all judicial proceedings in or before any Court established in the Federal Republic of Nigeria, but it shall not apply to – (a) Proceeding be an arbitrator.” Absence of evidence in proof of facts submitted to an arbitrator, required under the Evidence Act, is not a ground for setting aside an arbitral award.

– Garba, JCA. Dunlop v. Gaslink (2018)

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WRONG EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE BY TRIAL COURT

Where the Court of Appeal wrongly evaluates the evidence before the trial court and arrives at a wrong conclusion not borne out from the evidence before the court, the Supreme Court will intervene on the ground that the finding is perverse. But where the finding of the Court of Appeal is borne out from the evidence adduced in the trial court, this court cannot intervene. I do not see any reason for intervention in this appeal.

– Niki Tobi JSC. Iragunima v. Rivers State (2003)

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HIGH COURT DOES NOT SIT ON APPELLATE FUNCTION OVER ARBITRAL PANEL

In the case of Baker Marine Nigeria Limited v. Chevron Nigeria Limited (2000) 3 NWLR (Pt. 681) 939 @ 410, it was held that an application to set aside an arbitral award: “The lower Court was not sitting as an appellate Court over the award of the arbitrators. The lower Court was not therefore empowered to determine whether or not the findings of the arbitrators and their conclusions were wrong in law. What the lower Court had to do was to look at the award and determine whether on the state of law as understood by them and stated on the face of the award, the arbitrators complied with the law as they themselves rightly or wrongly perceived it. The approach here is subjective. The Court places itself in the position of the arbitrators, not above them, and then determines on that hypothesis whether the arbitrators followed the law as they understood and expressed it.”

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HOW COURT ARRIVES IN DETERMINING PREPONDERANCE OF EVIDENCE

In determining either the preponderance of evidence or the balance of probabilities in the evidence, the court is involved in some weighing by resorting to the imaginary scale of justice in its evaluation exercise. Accordingly, proof by preponderance of evidence simply means that the evidence adduced by the plaintiff,(in our context the petitioner or appellant) should be put on one side of the imaginary scale mentioned in Mogaji v Odofin (1978) 3 SC 91 and the evidence adduced by the defendant (in our context, all the respondents) put on the other side of that scale and weighed together to see which side preponderates. In arriving at the preponderance of evidence, the Court of Appeal in its capacity as a court (tribunal) of first instance need not search for an exact mathematics figure in the imaginary “weighing machine” because there is in fact and in law no such machine and therefore no figures, talk less of mathematical exactness. On the contrary, the Court of Appeal, in its capacity as a court (tribunal) of first instance, should rely on its judicial and judicious mind to arrive at when the imaginary scale preponderates; and that is the standard, though oscillatory and at times nervous. I will be guided by the above principles on burden and standard of proof when considering Issues 2 and 4 of the appellant’s Brief which I will take anon.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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CIRCUMSTANCES WHEN AN APPELLATE COURT WILL EMBARK ON A RE-EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE

Suffice to say that an appellate court will not embark on a re-evaluation of the evidence led by the parties in the trial simply because a party made an allegation of improper evaluation of evidence and formulated an issue for determination from the complaint. An appellate court will only do so where a party visibly demonstrates the perversity of the findings made by the trial court by showing that the trial court:
(a) made improper use of the opportunity it had of seeing and hearing the witnesses, or
(b) did not appraise the evidence and ascribe probative value to it, or
(c) drawn wrong conclusions from proved or accepted facts leading to a miscarriage of justice.

– M.L. Shuaibu, J.C.A. Dekan Nig. Ltd. v. Zenith Bank Plc – CA/C/12/2020

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THREE METHODS OF EVIDENTIAL PROOF

The law is also trite that the three methods of evidential proof as held by the Supreme Court Per, Ogunbiyi, J.S.C in the case of OKASHETU V STATE (2016) LPELR-40611 (SC) are to wit: a. Direct evidence of witnesses; b. Circumstantial evidence; and c. By reliance on a confessional statement of an accused person voluntarily made.

– Adamu Jauro, JSC. Enabeli v. State (2021)

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EXTRINSIC EVIDENCE CANNOT VARY WRITTEN TERMS

The general rule is that where the parties have embodied the terms of their agreement or contract in a written document as it was done in this case, extrinsic evidence is not admissible to add to, vary, subtract from or contradict the terms of the written instrument: See Mrs. O, D. Layode v Panalpina World Transport NY Ltd (1996) 6 NWLR (pt 456) 544, Glaloye v Balogun (1990) 5 NWLR (pt 148), Union Bank of Nigeria Ltd v Ozigi (1994) 3 NWLR (pt 333) 385.

— J.I. Okoro JSC. B.O. Lewis v. United Bank for Africa Plc. (SC.143/2006, 14 January 2016)

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