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CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACT

Dictum

The position of this Court has always been to refrain from interfering with concurrent findings of fact unless it is shown that the findings are perverse. A finding is perverse (i) Where it is not supported by evidence on the record; (ii) Where it does not reflect a proper exercise of judicial discretion; (iii) Where evidence has been wrongly admitted or rejected at the trial; (iv) Where there has been an erroneous appraisal of facts leading to erroneous conclusion; (v) Where the finding has been reached as a result of a wrong application of some principles of substantive law or procedure. See: Ayeni Vs Adesina (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt. 370) 1451 @ 1457-1458; Woluchem Vs Gudi (1981) 5 SC 291 @ 326; Adegbite Vs Ogunfaolu, (1990) 4 NWLR (Pt.146) 578; Itu Vs The State (2016) 5 NWLR (Pt.1506) 443.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. MTN v. Corporate (2019) – SC.674/2014

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REASON WHY NOT TO INTERFERE IN CONCURRENT FINDINGS

True, it has long been established that this Court, generally speaking, should not interfere with findings of facts by lower Courts. The reason is simple. In the first place, the trial Courts had the unique opportunity of seeing and hearing the witnesses give evidence. They not only see the witnesses, they equally observe all their habits and mannerisms. These include their demeanour and idiosyncrasies. As a corollary to these peculiar advantages, the Law anticipates that they should utilize all their judicial competence; competence or skill rooted or anchored on law and commonsense to evaluate the evidence by eliminating the chaff from the grain of probative evidence. Proper conclusions which a reasonable Court ought to arrive at, expectedly or ideally, should eventuate from that rigorous exercise. The lower Court, upon being persuaded by such findings, would endorse them as concurrent.

– Chima Centus, JSC. Dondos v. State (2021) – SC.905/2014

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UNLESS CLEAR ERROR IS SHOWN, CONCURRENT FINDING WILL NOT BE DISTURBED

The attitude of the Supreme Court to concurrent findings of fact has been reiterated in a plethora of authorities. In Ogundiyan Vs The State (1991) 3 NWLR Pt. 1811 519 @ 528-529 H-A this court held per Obaseki, JSC: “without any clear evidence of errors in law or fact leading to or occasioning miscarriage of justice, this court will not interfere with the concurrent findings. It is settled law that there must be clear proof of error either of law or fact on the record which has occasioned miscarriage of justice before the Supreme Court can upset or reverse concurrent findings of fact,” Per Nnaemaka-Agu, JSC in Ogoala Vs The State (1991) 2 NWLR (Pt. 175) 509 @: It is settled that where there is sufficient evidence to support the findings of fact by two lower courts, such findings should not be disturbed unless there is a substantial error apparent on the record: that is, the findings have been shown to be perverse, or some miscarriage of justice or some material violation of some principle of law or procedure is shown.”

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POLICY OF THE COURT NOT TO INTERFERE IN CONCURRENT FINDINGS

From a long line of cases, it is clearly evident that it is the policy of this Court not to interfere with the concurrent findings of the two courts below. This policy is predicated on, and presupposes that, the court of first instance evaluated the evidence, exercised its right to believe or disbelieve witnesses, and then finally arrived at specific findings on the issues of fact arising from the pleadings and evidence as presented to the court for resolution. When that had been done and the Court of Appeal confirms the findings of the trial court, then an appellant is confronted with a rather uphill task. There again, such an appellant will be required to show either that the findings were perverse thus leading to an obvious miscarriage of justice or that there was a violation of some principle of law or procedure.

– Oputa JSC. OLUFOSOYE v. OLORUNFEMI (1989)

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WHERE CONCURRENT FINDINGS, THE SUPREME COURT WILL NOT INTERFERE

In view of the concurrent findings of fact by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal on the issues raised in this case, and in the absence of any special circumstance warranting this Court to do so, this Court will not interfere. See Ukpe Ibodo & Ors. v. Enarofie & Ors. (1980) 5-7 S.C. 42 at 55; David Dawodu Lokoyi & Anor. v. Emmanuel Babalola Olojo (1983) 8 S.C. 61 and Sockna Moromodu Allie & Ors. v. Ahmed Alhaji & Ors. 13 W.A.C.A. 320, particularly at 321 wherein their Lordships of the Privy Council stated thus: “However that may be, it is not a matter upon which their Lordships could or ever do, interfere, when the matter has been not only to the Court of first instance but to the Court of Appeal in the Colony itself.”

— Wali, JSC. Uredi v. Dada (1998) – SC.106/1986

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WHEN COURT WILL INTERFERE IN THE EXERCISE BY THE TRIAL COURT

The appellate court will therefore not interfere with the exercise of it by the lower court unless it has been shown that it was not exercised judicially, that is bonafide, and not arbitrarily or illegally or by reference to extraneous considerations or by omitting to take relevant factors into account. This is the result of all the cases.

– Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Adejumo v. Ayantegbe (1989)

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SUPREME COURT WILL NOT INTERVENE IN CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF LOWER COURTS

My lords, the appellants have not shown that the concurrent findings of fact made by the trial court and the lower court are perverse or unreasonable. Neither have they shown that any miscarriage of justice had been occasioned by the concurrent findings. The attitude of this court to concurrent findings of facts by the two lower courts is well settled. This court will only interfere with such concurrent findings when the appellants show special circumstances by establishing either that there was a miscarriage of justice, or a serious violation of some principles of substantive law or procedure, or that the findings are perverse, or that the findings do not flow from the evidence adduced by the parties. See Enang v. Adu (1981) 11 – 12 SC 25 at page 42, (1981) 5 SC 291; Lokoyi v. Olojo (1983) 8 SC 61 at page 73; Ojomu v. Ajao (1983) 9 SC 22 at page 53; Ibodo v. Enarofia (1980) 5 – 7 SC 42 at page 45; Akayepe v. Akayepe (2009) 11 NWLR (Pt. 1152) 217. The principle has been repeated and repeated times without numbers. Unfortunately, legal practitioners, obviously for their economic gains, keep encouraging litigants to approach this court with appeals repeating the same complaints over findings of facts by courts of first instance which had been duly affirmed by the intermediate court. I think there should be serious sanction for these vexatious frivolities.

— Eko JSC. Benjamin v Kalio (2017) – SC/207/2006

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