I shall, in treating this issue, begin by saying that the line between a proper exercise of judicial discretion and an abuse of that discretion is not readily definable and it may be, that the term “abuse of discretion” means no more than that the decision below fell outside the permissible limits as viewed by the appellate court or that the Court of Appeal is of the opinion that the trial court should have decided otherwise. The resort of “discretion” at all times could turn to be an unruly horse. As Justice William Douglas in State of New York v. United States (1951) 342 US 822, opined at page 884 and I quote: “Absolute discretion, like corruption marks the beginning of the end of liberty.” Lord Simon of Glaisdale expressing the traditional view on the exercise of judicial discretion by a Judge said in D. v. NSPCC (1978) A.C 171 at page 239 and I quote:-. “And if it comes to the forensic crunch … it must be law, but discretion, which is in command.” Summing up the above dicta, in my words of definition, I will say an issue falls within a Judge’s discretion if, being governed by no rule of law, its resolution depends on the individual Judge’s assessment of what is fair and just to do in the particular case. A Judge has no discretion in making his findings of fact, he has no discretion in his rulings of the law. If a Judge, having made any necessary finding of fact and any necessary ruling on law, it seems to me clear that he has to choose between different causes of action, orders, penalties or remedies he then exercises a discretion. Let me reiterate that it is only when a trial Judge reaches a stage at which he asks himself, what is the fair and just thing to do or order in the instant case that he embarks on the exercise of a discretion. However, where the situation is governed by the rule of law, as in the instant case, which touches on admissibility of a document where the provisions of the Evidence Act come into play, although the court may have its own discretion, such discretion must be exercised according to the ordinary principles laid down in the Evidence Act as set out above. Its judicial discretion is founded upon those principles. And if a trial Judge refuses to do so, then the appellate court will set the matter right. See R. v. Stafford Justices (1940) 2 K.B. 33 at 43.
— P.O. Aderemi JSC. Musa Abubakar v. E.I. Chuks (SC.184/2003, 14 DEC 2007)