Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

WHERE FINDING OF COURT NOT APPEALED

Dictum

The law is that a finding or holding of a Court, not appealed against or challenged, remains binding and conclusive. – Mbaba JCA. Aduba v. Aduba (2018)

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

WHAT APPELLATE COURT CONSIDERS WHERE FINDING OF FACT IS CHALLENGED

An appellate court in its primary role in considering a judgment on appeal in a civil case in which the finding or non-finding of facts is questioned will seek to know:- The evidence before the trial court. Whether it accepted or rejected any evidence upon the correct perception. Whether it correctly approached the assessment of the evidence before it and placed the right probative value on it. Whether it used the imaginary scale of justice to weigh the evidence on either side and Whether it appreciated upon the preponderance of evidence which side of the scale weighed having regard to the burden of proof.

– ADEKEYE JCA. Anyafulu v. Agazie (2005)

Was this dictum helpful?

WHERE FACTS PROPERLY APPRAISED, COURT OF APPEAL SHOULD NOT SUBSTITUTE VIEWS FOR TRIAL COURT

It is settled that where a court of trial unquestionably evaluates the evidence and appraises the facts it is not the business of a Court of Appeal to substitute its own views for the trial court. It is equally settled that a Court of Appeal should not easily disturb the findings of fact of a trial Judge who had the singular opportunity of listening to the witnesses and watching their performance although such findings of fact or the inferences drawn from them may be questioned in certain circumstances (See for example Akinola v. Fatoyimbo Oluwo & 0rs ( 1962) 1 SCNLR 352: (1962) 1 All NLR 244: Fabumiyi & 0rs. V. Obaje & Anor (1968) NMLR 242; Fatoyinbo Williams (1956) SCNLR 274: (1956) 1 FSC 87.

— Kutigi, JSC. Awaogbo & Ors. v. Eze (1995) – SC.69/1991

Was this dictum helpful?

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

Was this dictum helpful?

TWO TYPES OF FINDING OF FACTS – WHEN APPEAL COURT CAN INTERFERE

In a trial, there are generally two sets of findings of facts: A finding of fact may be based on the credibility of witnesses or may be informed from other facts proved before the trial court. Where a witness gives direct evidence that is the evidence of the facts in issue as seen, heard or perceived by any other sense by him. (Section 77 of the Evidence Act). The finding of the trial court on such evidence depends on whether or not it believes that witness (credibility of the witness). Such a finding on such evidence is a primary finding of fact, i.e. the way the witness testifies, his demeanor in the box tells much of his credibility. The trial court that saw and heard the witness is in the best position to assess his credibility and make findings of primary facts. But, where on the other hand, other facts are put in evidence from which the facts in issue can be inferred, or where a witness gave circumstantial evidence, the finding of the trial court on the facts in issue depends on inference. This is a secondary finding of fact as it is not based on the credibility of the witness but on logical process of inference. In the former’s case, i.e. primary findings of fact, an appeal court should always be loathe in interfering with such a finding as it did not have the privilege of seeing, hearing or observing the demeanour of the witness. There are several decided authorities on this: Ebba v. Ogodo & Anor (1984) 4 SC 75; Akintola v. Olowa (1962) 1 All NLR 224; Fatoyinbo v. Williams (1956) 1 FSC 87; Egri v. Uperi (1974) 1 NMLR 22; just to mention a few. In the latter’s case, i.e. where findings of fact are secondary, i.e. drawn from inferences, an appeal court is in as good position as a court of trial to do this. It can differ from the trial court. See: Akpopuma V. Nzeka (1983) 2 SCNLR 1.

— T. Muhammad, JSC. VAB Petroleum v. Momah (2013) – SC.99/2004

Was this dictum helpful?

DISTURBED FINDING OF FACT

The trite position of the law is that where the Court of Appeal wrongly disturbed any finding of fact of a trial court, the Supreme Court will not hesitate in restoring that finding, See: Board of Customs and Excise v. Barau (1987) 10 SC 48.

— T. Muhammad, JSC. VAB Petroleum v. Momah (2013) – SC.99/2004

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.