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INFERENCE NOT FRESH POINT OF LAW

Dictum

An appellate court can draw conclusion or make inference from the record before it. Conclusion or inference borne out of/from the record cannot be branded as raising fresh point of law. A fresh point of law is a new point of law which was not raised by any of the parties at the trial of the case. A point of law which was raised by the parties at the trial cannot be a fresh point of law.

– Niki Tobi JSC. Gbadamosi v. Dairo (2007)

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FINDING OF FACT WILL BE DISTURBED WHEN PERVERSE

It is elementary law that needs no citation of any authority that an appellate court shall not disturb any finding of fact unless the finding is found to be perverse or cannot be justified having regard to the pleadings and the evidence led.

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

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EXCEPT FINDINGS OF FACT ARE PERVERSE, APPEAL COURT WILL NOT INTERFERE IN SUCH FINDINGS

Before I turn to the treatment of the above findings of fact by the Court of Appeal, I think I need re-emphasize that where facts in issue, whether in a criminal or civil proceedings are accepted or believed by the trial court and no question of misdirection arises, an appellate court, will not ordinarily interfere with such findings of fact made by a trial Judge which are supported by evidence simply because there is some other evidence in contradiction of the finding or that if the same facts were before the appellate court, it would not have come to the same decision as the trial Judge. See: Ike v. Ugboaja (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt.301) 539;Odofin v. Ayoola, supra; Ogbero Egri v. Uperi (1974) 1 NMLR 22; Ogundulu & Ors. v. Phillips & Ors. (1973) NMLR 267 etc. This, as already stated, is because findings of fact made by a trial court are matters peculiarly within its exclusive jurisdiction and they are presumed to be correct unless and until an appellant satisfactorily proves that they are wrong. Such trial courts saw the witnesses and heard them testify and unless the findings are perverse or unsupported by credible evidence, the Court of Appeal will not interfere with them. See: Adelumola v. The State (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt.73) 683. An appellate court may however interfere with such findings in circumstances such as where the trial court did not make a proper use of the opportunity of seeing and hearing the witnesses at the trial or where it drew wrong conclusions from accepted credible evidence or took an erroneous view of the evidence adduced before it or its findings of fact are perverse in the sense that they did not flow from the evidence accepted by it. See: Okpiri v. Jonah (1961) 1SCNLR 174; (1961) 1 All NLR 102 at 104-5; Maja v. Stocco (1968) 1 All NLR 141 at 149; Woluchem v. Gudi (1981) 5 SC 291 at 295-6 and 326-9.

— Iguh, JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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APPELLATE COURT WILL NOT INTERFERE IN FINDING OF FACT

In concluding this Issue, it is now firmly established, that where the question involved are purely those of fact, an Appellate Court, will not interfere, unless the decision of the trial Judge, is shown to be perverse and not the result of a proper exercise of judicial discretion (to believe or disbelieve witnesses) or that there is no evidence at all to support a particular crucial finding or that the trial court made wrong deductions or drew wrong inferences from admitted or established facts. See Ubani & 2 ore, v. The State (2003) 12 SCNJ 111 @ 727-728.

— Ogbuagu, JSC. Moses v State [2006] – S.C.308/2002

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APPRAISAL OF FACT

It is settled law that the appraisal of facts is the duty of the trial Judge and the Appellant court will only intervene when the finding is perverse or wrongly made. – Nwodo, JCA. OLAM v. Intercontinental Bank (2009)

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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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HOW COURT SHOULD EVALUATE EVIDENCE – CONCEPT OF FACT FINDING

The law has saddled a trial Court, like the lower Court herein, with the primary duty to evaluate relevant and material evidence, both oral and documentary, after hearing and watching the demeanour of witnesses called by the parties in any proceedings having regard to their pleadings. To discharge that bounden duty, a trial Court must show how and why it arrived at its findings of fact and final determination of the issues before it. It has to be cautious and understand the distinction between summary or restatement of evidence and evaluation of evidence which means assessment of evidence and giving them probative value. It appraises evidence by constructing an imaginary scale of justice and putting the evidence of the parties on the two different pans of the scale. Then, it weighs them to determine which is heavier, not in terms of quantity, but quality of the testimonies, see Mogaji v. Odofin (supra); Olagunju v. Adesoye (2009) 9 NWLR (Pt. 1146) 225; Oyewole v. Akande (supra); Ayuya v. Yonrin (2011) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1254) 135; Adusei v. Adebayo (2012) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1288) 534; Odutola v. Mabogunje (2013) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1356) 522; Ndulue v. Ojiakor (2013) 8 NWLR (Pt. 1356) 311.

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

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