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A RETRIAL WILL NOT BE MADE WHERE THE PLAINTIFF FAILS TO PROVE HIS CASE

Dictum

There are two options open to this court. 1. to remit the case to the trial court to be heard de novo by another judge, or 2. for this court to put itself in the shoes of the trial court and do what that court ought to have done after hearing arguments on the admissibility of both letters. It would be wrong to make an order of retrial if such an order would give the party that lost an opportunity a second time to prove what he failed to prove. A retrial should not be made where the plaintiff fails to prove his case and there is no substantial irregularity apparent on the record. See Thompson v. Arowolo (2003) 7 NWLR Pt.818 P.163 Solomon v. Magaji (1982) 11 SC. P.1. Wassah & Ors. v. Kara & Ors. (2014) – SC.309/2001

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WHERE ABSENT PANELIST RELIES ON REPORT OF OTHER COLLEAGUES

In Nwalutu v. NBA & Anor (2019) 8 NWLR Pt.1673 Pg.174 at Pg.195. wherein his Lordship stated thus: “It appears to me, and I so hold, that when an absent panelist relies on the colleague present when a witness (es) testified to render an opinion that such opinion is premised on hearsay evidence and it is perverse. A Decision in the circumstance is nothing but travesty of justice. In such circumstance also, it cannot be said that the person tried by the LPDC had received fair trial. Fair hearing, as this Court has consistently held, involves a fair trial and a fair trial of a case consists of the whole hearing. There is no difference between the two.”

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EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE IS THE PRIMARY FUNCTION OF A TRIAL COURT

“Courts of trial are expected to carry out their sacred duties of review, evaluation and appraisal, as ascription of probative values, when determining cases presented before them, so that as much as possible, cases are decided on admissible and credible evidence. The receipt of relevant evidence is an act of perception, while the evaluation of evidence and findings of facts by a trial Court involves both perception and evaluation. A trial Court that fails in this duty, fails in its duty of being an impartial arbiter in the adversarial system of the administration of justice – Guardian Newspaper V Ajeh (2011) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1256) 574, 582. Thus the evaluation of relevant and material evidence and ascription of probative value to such evidence, both oral and documentary, are the primary functions and within the domain of the trial Court which saw, heard and assessed the witnesses.”

— J.H. Sankey, JCA. Ibrahim Muli v Sali Akwai (2021) – CA/G/423/2019

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VARIATIONS IN LPDC PANEL MEMBERS AFFECTS ITS’ FINAL DECISION

In Adeigbe & Anor v. Salami Kusimo & Ors (1965) LPELR -25226 (SC) this issue was properly explained by Ademola JSC (as he then was) as follows: “The complaint against a hearing that was not always before the same bench does not pertain to any matter that goes to the jurisdiction of the Court. It is at bottom a complaint that the judgment cannot be satisfactory on the ground that as the persons who gave it had not seen and heard all the witnesses, they could not appraise the evidence as a whole and decide the facts properly. Thus, it is a complaint on the soundness of the judgment itself, and not a complaint that is extrinsic to the adjudication, which is the test to apply when considering a submission on jurisdiction. We are therefore of the opinion that variations in the bench do not make the judgment a nullity; they may make it unsatisfactory, and it may have to be set aside for this reason, but whether they do or not depends on the particular circumstances of the case.”

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WHAT IS A SUMMARY TRIAL IN CRIMINAL CASES?

A summary trial is therefore a short proceeding that does away with the rigours of a full trial, hearing of witnesses or tendering of documents. It is a proceeding that settles a controversy or disposes of a case in a relatively prompt and simple manner. It entails immediate action without following the rigmarole in normal legal procedure. As a matter of procedure, summary trial allows for conviction of an accused person based on his or her admission of guilt to an indictable offence other than capital.

– A. Jauro JSC. Balogun v. FRN (2021)

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IT IS THE PRIMARY DUTY OF TRIAL COURT TO ASSESS WITNESSES

I fully subscribe to the well settled position of the law that an appellate Court which had not seen the witnesses testify and observe their demeanour in the witness stand, should respect the views of a trial Court and should not readily substitute its own views except where it is shown that the conclusion reached by the Court below was perverse. An appellate Court must always bear it in mind that the primary function of assessing the quality of evidence and ascribing probative value thereto is that of the trial Court, which heard and saw the witnesses testify. Thus, it is only when the findings of the trial Court have been demonstrated to be perverse as not flowing from the established and proved evidence or hinged on extraneous matters or for whatsoever other reasons not correct that an appellate Court would intervene to disturb such findings of fact and re-evaluate the evidence on the printed record, if so called upon by the Appellant to make proper findings in accordance with the dictates of justice. See Saeed v. Yakowa (2013) All FWLR (P. 692) 1650 @ p. 1681. See also Layinka v. Makinde (2002) FWLR (Pt. 109) 1557 @ p. 1570; Martins v. COP (2013) All FWLR (Pt. 666) 446 @ p. 460; Obajimi v. Adeobi (2008) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1075) 1 @ p. 19. See also Owor v. Christopher (2010) All FWLR (Pt. 511) 962 @ p. 992; Sogbamu v. Odunaiya (2013) All FWLR (Pt. 700) 1247 @ p. 1307.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

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PLEA BEFORE TRIAL COMMENCES

The trial does not commence until the plea is taken.

– Chima Centus Nweze, J.S.C. Independent National Electoral Commission & Anor v. Ejike Oguebego & Ors (2017)

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