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DISCRETION OF TRIAL COURT WILL ONLY BE INTERFERED WITH WHERE IT IS ABSURD

Dictum

In ANYAH v. AFRICAN NEWSPAPER OF NIG. LTD. [1992] NWLR (Pt. 247) Pg.319; (1992) LPELR-511 (SC) Pg.20-21, Paras. G – A the Supreme Court of Nigeria pertinently stated that: “It is not in all cases that an appeal Court will interfere with the exercise of discretion by a trial judge, simply because it did not favour one of the parties litigating before him. The Court will not interfere with the exercise of discretion in the absence of proof that it was wrongly exercised. You cannot lay down hard and fast rules as to the exercise of judicial discretion by a Court, for the moment you do that, the discretion is fettered.” See also the decision of the Supreme Court in OLATUBOSUN v. TEXACO NIG. PLC (2012) LPELR-7805 (SC) Pg. 18, Paras. C – D where it was held that “…an appellate Court like ours will not interfere with the exercise of discretion of the Court below merely because this Court would have acted differently…This Court will only interfere where the discretion exercised is manifestly wrong, arbitrary, reckless and injudicious.” Also, in FALEYE and ORS v. DADA and ORS (2016) LPELR- 40297 (SC) Pg.33-34, Paras. E – C, the Supreme Court of Nigeria per MUHAMMAD JSC held as follows: “…This Court has stated it times without number that it is none of its functions or indeed that of an appellate Court to substitute its own views of the evidence for those of the trial Court that is better placed to deal with those matters. The appellate High Court could only have interfered with findings of facts of the trial Customary Court when the findings are perverse and/or consequent upon improper exercise of judicial discretion further resulting in miscarriage of justice…”

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COURTS OF LAW EXERCISE DISCRETION ACCORDING TO RULES OF LAW

Judges and Courts exercise their discretion in accordance with rules of law and justice 42 and not according to private opinion. An exercise of discretion is a liberty or privilege to decide and act in accordance with what is fair and equitable under the peculiar circumstances of the particular case, guided by the spirit and principles of law.

— H.M. Ogunwumiju, JSC. UBA v Triedent Consulting Ltd. (SC.CV/405/2013, July 07, 2023)

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WHERE APPEAL COURT WILL NOT SET ASIDE DISCRETION OF LOWER COURT

A court of appeal will not set aside a discretion exercised by the Court below if it is judicially exercised i.e. it is not arbitrary, or based on extraneous or irrelevant materials.

– Nnamani, JSC. Adejumo v. Ayantegbe (1989)

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POWER TO TRANSFER CASE TO ANOTHER DIVISION IS DISCRETIONARY – FHC

There is no doubt that the starting point with regards to the territorial jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is the statutorily codified and judicially noticed principle that the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court is one and nationwide. It is also however settled that same has been divided into Judicial Divisions and where a crime has been committed, such crime ought to be prosecuted in the Judicial Division of the Federal High Court in the State or States where any of the elements of the crime was allegedly committed, or one that is close to it, subject to the power of transfer, by which a matter may be tried outside the State of commission upon compelling reasons to so do. The foregoing is in my view the import of the Provisions of Sections, Section 45 of the Federal high Court Act; and Sections 93, 98, 385, 386 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, relied on by both parties. — J.Y. Tukur, JCA. Fani-Kayode v. FRN & Ors. (2019) – CA/L/722C/2018

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THE EXERCISE OF DISCRETION IS BASED ON FACTS

In ADIGWE v. FRN (2015) 18 NWLR (pt. 1490) 105 this Court reiterated the point that “the exercise of discretion is not based on mere judgment of the person doing so but upon facts on circumstances necessary for the proper exercise of that discretion”. See also OYEGUN v. NZERIBE (2010) 41 NSCQR 127 at 147.

— E. Eko, JSC. Francis v. FRN (2020) – SC.810/2014

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TRIAL JUDGE DISCRETION FOR LOCUS IN QUO; LOCUS IN QUO

It is clearly at the discretion of the trial Judge to determine whether in the light of the evidence before him, there is need to resolve, by a visit to the locus in quo, the conflict of evidence or clear a doubt as to the accuracy of a piece of evidence when there is such conflict of evidence.

– Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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APPELLATE COURT INTERFERENCE WITH TRIAL COURTS DISCRETION

It needs to be emphasised here that an appellate Court will usually not interfere with an exercise of discretion in its quest to obtain substantial justice except where it is satisfied that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or illegally or without due regard to all necessary consideration having regard to the circumstances of the particular case. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

Even then, it is well – established that an appellate Court will not, in principle, interfere with the exercise of discretion by the trial Court unless that discretion is shown to have been exercised upon wrong principles or that the exercise was tainted with some illegality or substantial irregularity. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)

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