Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

APPEAL COURT IS IN A POSITION TO RE-APPRAISE EVIDENCE ON RECORD

Dictum

I have gone through the evidence of the witnesses on record and the judgment of the trial Court and I am firmly of the view that there was no issue of the trial court’s assessment of the credibility of witnesses. The result is that this Court, like the court below, is in as good a position as the trial court to appraise or re-appraise the evidence on record to see if the concurrent findings of the two courts below are not perverse. With respect to the evidence itself, there is a lot of oral as well as documentary evidence. I am however of the view that the issues raised would be resolved mainly by the documentary evidence. I am guided in this view by the settled principle of law that oral evidence is only to be hangars on for documentary evidence.

— F.F. Tabai, JSC. Mini Lodge v. Ngei (2009) – SC.231/2006

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

COURT OF APPEAL CAN EVALUATE DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE

By way of prefatory remarks, I must place on record, that documentary evidence form the corpus and integral part of the case. Interestingly, the law, in order to remedy and expel injustice from proceedings, donates concurrent jurisdiction to this Court and the lower Court in evaluation of documentary evidence, see Gonzee (Nig.) Ltd. v. NERDC (2005) 13 NWLR (Pt. 943) 634; Olagunju v. Adesoye(2009) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1146) 225; Ayuya v. Yonrin (2011) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1254) 135; Eyiboh v. Abia (2012) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1325) 51; Odutola v. Mabogunje (2013) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1354); CPC v. Ombugadu (2013) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1385) 66; UTC (Nig) Plc v. Lawal (2014) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1400) 221; Ogundalu v. Macjob (2015) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1460) 96; Onwuzuruike v. Edoziem (2016) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1508) 215; Ezechukwu v. Onwuka (2016) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1506) 529; C.K. & W.M.C. Ltd. v. Akingbade (2016) 14 NWLR (Pt. 1533) 487.

— O.F. Ogbuinya, JCA. Impact Solutions v. International Breweries (2018) – CA/AK/122/2016

Was this dictum helpful?

EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE IS PRIMARY FUNCTION OF TRIAL JUDGE

The evaluation and ascription of probative value are primary functions of the trial court who saw and watched the demeanour of the witnesses who testified at the trial. It is not proper for an appellate court to interfere where the trial court has properly discharged its functions in relation thereto. This appeal court will not interfere with findings of fact where there is sufficient evidence backed by the pleadings in support of such findings and where no substantial error is apparent on the record such as a miscarriage of justice or violation of some principle of law or procedure.

– Musdapher, JSC. Atta v. Ezeanah (2000)

Was this dictum helpful?

EVALUATION, ASCRIBING PROBATIVE VALUE, DUTY OF TRIAL JUDGE

Generally, and it is settled law that the evaluation of evidence adduced and ascription of probative value or weight to such evidence is the primary duty of the trial judge who saw and heard the witnesses testified. The trial judge is therefore in a position to access the credibility and watch the demeanour of the witnesses.

– O. Ariwoola, JSC. Tukur v. Uba (2012) – SC.390/2011

Was this dictum helpful?

EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE AND IMAGINARY SCALE

Re-evaluation suggests and presupposes a prior evaluation. If evidence has already been evaluated by the trial Court, on what grounds, on what basis, on what principles would an appellate court undertake another re-evaluation of the same evidence? Before tackling this main issue, it may be necessary to dispose of a subsidiary but related issue: What does evaluation of evidence consist of? What is the meaning of the expression evaluation? To evaluate simply means to give value to, to ascertain the amount, to find numerical expression for etc. Thus if a plaintiffs case is supported by witnesses, while the defendant’s case is supported by 6 witnesses then the numerical expression, the quantum of evidence, the amount, would be 4 to 6. If cases are decided solely by the number of witnesses called by either side, then in the above instance the plaintiff will lose, having a preponderance of 6 witnesses to 4 witnesses in the scale against him. Now talking of scale naturally leads one to the famous dictum of Fatayi Williams, J.S.C.(as he then was) in A.R. Mogaji and ors v. Madam Rabiatu Odafin and ors (1978) 4 S.C.91 at 93:- “When an appellant complains that a judgment is against the weight of evidence, all he means is that when the evidence adduced by him is balanced against that adduced by the respondent, the judgment given in favour of the respondent is against the weight which have been given to the totality of the evidence before him, (the trial Judge) ….. Therefore in deciding whether certain set of facts given in evidence by one party in a civil case before a court in which both parties appear is preferable to another set of facts given in evidence by the other party, the trial Judge, after a summary of all the facts, must put the two sets of facts on an imaginary scale, weigh one against the other, then decide upon the preponderance of credible evidence which weighs more, accept it in preference to the other, and then apply the appropriate law to it ….” (italics ours). This scale though imaginary is still the scale of justice, and the scale of truth. Such a scale will automatically repel and expel any and all false evidence. What ought to go into that imaginary scale should therefore be no other than credible evidence. What is therefore necessary in deciding what goes into the imaginary scale is the value, credibility and quality as well as the probative essence of the evidence.

— Oputa JSC. Onwuka & Ors. V. Ediala & Anor. (SC.18/1987, 20 January 1989)

Was this dictum helpful?

THERE MUST BE IMPROPER EVALUATION FOR APPEAL COURT TO RE-EVALUATE EVIDENCE

Unless and until the appellate Court comes to the conclusion that the trial Court had not carried out its duty of proper evaluation and ascription of probative value to the evidence before it, the duty of the appellate Court to re – evaluate the evidence on the printed records would not arise. The law is that for an appellate Court to embark on such a duty it must be demonstrated that the Court below had either not carried out its duty of evaluation of the evidence led before it or had carried out an improper evaluation of the evidence and had arrived at findings which are perverse, and which ought in law to be set aside so that proper findings as dictated by the proved evidence as in the printed record are made by the appellate Court in the interest of justice and to avoid the perpetuation of injustice should the perverse judgment of the trial Court be allowed to stand.

– B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Ganiyu v. Oshoakpemhe & Ors. (2021) – CA/B/12A/2021

Was this dictum helpful?

THE APPEAL COURT IS IN A POSITION TO EVALUATE ADMITTED EVIDENCE WHERE IT IS BASICALLY TO DRAW INFERENCES FROM DOCUMENTS

Where however the nature of the case is such that the evaluation would not entail the assessment of credibility of witnesses and would be confined to drawing inferences and making findings from admitted and proved facts and from the contents of documentary evidence, the appellate court is in as vantage a position as the trial court to evaluate or re-evaluate the evidence and make its own findings. These principles have been applied in a number of cases amongst which are WOLUCHEM v. GUDI (1981) 5 SC 291; MOGAJI v. ODOFIN (1978) 4 SC 91; DURU v. NWOSU (1989) 4 NWLR (Part 113) 24; OLADEHIN v. CONTINENTAL ILE MILLS LTD. (1978) 2 SC 28; CHUKWU v. NNEJI (1990) 6 NWLR (Part 156) 363; AKINTOLA v. BALOGUN (2000) 1 NWLR (Part 642) 532 at 546. I have gone through the evidence of the witnesses on record and the judgment of the trial Court and I am firmly of the view that there was no issue of the trial court’s assessment of the credibility of witnesses. The result is that this Court, like the court below, is in as good a position as the trial court to appraise or re-appraise the evidence on record to see if the concurrent findings of the two courts below are not perverse. With respect to the evidence itself, there is a lot of oral as well as documentary evidence. I am however of the view that the issues raised would be resolved mainly by the documentary evidence. I am guided in this view by the settled principle of law that oral evidence is only to be hangars on for documentary evidence.

— F.F. Tabai, JSC. Mini Lodge v. Ngei (2009) – SC.231/2006

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.