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WAYS BY WHICH FACTS ARE PROVED IN COURT

Dictum

Now, a court in the determination of a matter before it enquires into and relies on the relevant facts led by parties before it, draws inferences from such facts and the arguments canvassed by the parties or their counsel. Judicial evidence is the means by which the facts relied upon in taking decisions are proved. Facts are proved by oral testimony of the persons who perceived them, by the production of documents and inspections of things or places. Facts can also be proved by admissions, confessions, judicial notice, presumptions and estoppel. A Judge is free to take Judicial notice of all such facts he is either called upon to or from his general knowledge of such facts or from enquiries made by him on such facts from sources to which it is proper for him to refer.

– M.D. Muhammad, J.C.A. Shona-Jason v Omega Air (2005) – CA/L/418/2000

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EXCEPT FINDINGS OF FACT ARE PERVERSE, APPEAL COURT WILL NOT INTERFERE IN SUCH FINDINGS

Before I turn to the treatment of the above findings of fact by the Court of Appeal, I think I need re-emphasize that where facts in issue, whether in a criminal or civil proceedings are accepted or believed by the trial court and no question of misdirection arises, an appellate court, will not ordinarily interfere with such findings of fact made by a trial Judge which are supported by evidence simply because there is some other evidence in contradiction of the finding or that if the same facts were before the appellate court, it would not have come to the same decision as the trial Judge. See: Ike v. Ugboaja (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt.301) 539;Odofin v. Ayoola, supra; Ogbero Egri v. Uperi (1974) 1 NMLR 22; Ogundulu & Ors. v. Phillips & Ors. (1973) NMLR 267 etc. This, as already stated, is because findings of fact made by a trial court are matters peculiarly within its exclusive jurisdiction and they are presumed to be correct unless and until an appellant satisfactorily proves that they are wrong. Such trial courts saw the witnesses and heard them testify and unless the findings are perverse or unsupported by credible evidence, the Court of Appeal will not interfere with them. See: Adelumola v. The State (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt.73) 683. An appellate court may however interfere with such findings in circumstances such as where the trial court did not make a proper use of the opportunity of seeing and hearing the witnesses at the trial or where it drew wrong conclusions from accepted credible evidence or took an erroneous view of the evidence adduced before it or its findings of fact are perverse in the sense that they did not flow from the evidence accepted by it. See: Okpiri v. Jonah (1961) 1SCNLR 174; (1961) 1 All NLR 102 at 104-5; Maja v. Stocco (1968) 1 All NLR 141 at 149; Woluchem v. Gudi (1981) 5 SC 291 at 295-6 and 326-9.

— Iguh, JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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WRONG FACT FINDING CANNOT SET ASIDE AN ARBITRAL AWARD

In arbitration proceedings, the general principle is that facts finding by an Arbitrator is not a ground for setting aside an award on the ground that it is wrong nor on the ground that there is no evidence on which the facts could be found because that would be mere error of law.

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

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FACTS OF THE CASE DETERMINE LEGAL OUTCOME

Whichever is the case, it is important to state and emphasize that in a case of the nature before us, Counsel should have studied the facts of the case very well. Facts are the springboard of law. It is the facts of the case that determine the appropriate remedy.

— I.C. Pats Acholonu, JSC. Abdulhamid v Akar & Anor. (2006) – S.C. 240/2001

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UNCHALLENGED FINDINGS OF FACT ARE DEEMED TO BE ADMITTED BY A PARTY

The law is trite that a specific finding of fact by a court which is neither challenged nor appealed is deemed to be an acceptable and admitted fact by the party against whom it was made. In this case, this specific finding of fact was made concurrently by the trial court and the lower court. Such findings of fact, as this Court held in BAKARE v. THE STATE (1987) 3 SC 1, are presumed to be correct. The burden of displacing this presumption is on the party challenging the specific finding, as this Respondent purports to do belatedly and without any cross-appeal. The burden, as Agim, JCA, stated in DONATUS OKAFOR v. IFEANYIISIADINSO (2014) LPELR – 14 23013 (CA), is not discharged by a mere assertion that the findings is wrong.

— E. Eko, JSC. CITEC v. Edicomisa (2017) – SC. 163 2006

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ONLY PERVERSENESS CAN SET ASIDE LOWER COURT’S FINDINGS

Learned respondent/cross appellant’s counsel is right in his submission that a finding of a lower court on appeal is only set-aside where same is perverse. In a seemingly endless number of the decisions of this court, it has been held that a decision of a court is perverse when it ignores the facts or evidence before it which lapse when considered as a whole constitutes a miscarriage of justice. In such a case an appellate court is bound to interfere with such a decision and set it aside.

– Dattijo Muhammad JSC. Union Bank v. Chimaeze (2014)

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WHERE LOWER COURT FINDINGS WILL BE SET ASIDE

Although appellate courts are very slow and reluctant in interfering with the findings of fact by the trial lower courts, nevertheless where such findings are not borne out by conclusive or positive evidence, or where the lower court did not properly evaluate the evidence before making the findings or where the lower court failed to apply the law properly to the facts proved, the appellate courts are under a duty to interfere with such findings. To neglect to do so will certainly occasion a miscarriage of justice sufficient to warrant a superior appellate court to interfere with the trial court’s findings.

– Mahmud JSC. Ogiorio v. Igbinovia (1998)

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