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APPEAL: FINDING NOT APPEALED IS BINDING ON PARTY

Dictum

It is trite law that in an appeal against a judgment, a party who did not appeal against a finding, holding or decision, accepts it as correct, conclusive and binding and cannot argue against it.

– Agim JSC. Pillars v. William (2021)

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DUTY OF COURT TO MAKE FINDINGS OF FACT ON EVIDENCE

The point must be made that, it is the primary duty of a trial Court to make findings of fact on evidence adduced before it and ascribe due probative value to same. It is only when the trial court abdicates its duty or fails to perform it properly that an appellate court can step in to perform such a function. Even then, an appellate court can only do so, if the demeanour of witnesses is not in point.

– Afolabi Fabiyi JCA. Mueller v. Mueller (2005)

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WHERE FINDING OF COURT NOT APPEALED

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)

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RATIONALE FOR UPHOLDING CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACT

The attitude of this Court to concurrent findings of fact, is that it would not usually interfere with such findings unless they are shown to be perverse, not based on the evidence before the Court or where there has been an error of law or error in procedure which has occasioned a miscarriage of justice. The rationale for this position was eloquently stated by His Lordship, Belgore, JSC (as he then was) in Bamgboye v. Olarewaju (1991) LPELR 745 SC as follows: “Once a Court of trial has made a finding of fact, it is no more within the competence of the appellate Court to interfere with those findings except in certain circumstances. The real reason behind this attitude of appellate Courts is that the Court hearing the appeal is at a disadvantage as to the demeanour of witnesses in the lower Court as they were not seen and heard by the appellate Court. It is not right for the appellate Court to substitute its own eyes and ears for those of the trial Court which physically saw the witnesses and heard them and thus able to form an opinion as to what weight he place on their evidence…”

– Abdu Aboki JSC. Junaidu v. State (2021)

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IF NO PERVERSITY IS SHOWN, FINDINGS OF FACT WILL NOT BE DISTURBED

The trial Tribunal and the court below have arrived at concurrent findings of fact and the attitude of the Supreme Court is replete in a number of judicial authorities which is that except there is established miscarriage of justice or violation of some principle of law or procedure or the findings are perverse the Supreme Court will not disturb such findings. See ADAKU AMADE V. EDWARD NWOSU (1992) 6 SCNJ 59. ONWUJUBA V. OBIENU (1991) 4 NWLR (PART 188) 16; OGUNDIYAN V. STATE (1991) 3 NWLR (PART 181) 519; IYARO V. THE STATE 1 NWLR (PART 69) 256. The list is indeed inexhaustive. I do not find the findings of fact bedeviled by any of these lapses.

— Alaoga, JSC. Akeredolu v. Mimiko (2013) – SC. 352/2013

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APPEAL COURT WILL REVERSE WRONG FINDINGS OF FACT

It is true that the Court of Appeal will be reluctant to upset the findings of fact of a trial court but where as in this case the learned trial court draws wrong conclusions from the totality of the evidence before it, the Court of Appeal will and in fact has a duty to reverse the wrong conclusions and make findings that the facts before it demand.

– Babalakin JSC. Finnih v. Imade (1992)

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WHAT IS A PERVERSE FINDING?

A perverse finding is when it runs against and counter to the evidence led and the pleadings of the parties or where it has been shown that the trial judge took into consideration or account of matters which he ought not to have taken into account or shuts his eyes to the obvious. See: Akinloye v. Eyiola (1968) NWLR 92; Isah Onu and Ors v. Ibrahim Idu and Ors (2006) 6 SCNJ 23 at Pg. 45-46.

— T.S. YAKUBU, JCA. Fayose v ICN (2012) – CA/AE/58/2010

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