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MEANING OF A PERVERSE FINDING

Dictum

A perverse finding is a wrong, unreasonable or unacceptable finding, having due regard to the evidence before the court. A perverse finding is one not supported by the evidence before the court. It is a finding raised on a wrong assessment of the evidence before the court. A finding of fact based on exaggerated or bloated evidence on the part of the trial court could be perverse. So too finding of fact borne out from addition or subtraction from the evidence before the court.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. Buhari v. INEC (2008) – SC 51/2008

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FINDINGS OF FACT WILL NOT BE ORDINARILY DISTURBED

In per Nimpar, JCA. Adepoju v. State (2014) LPELR-23312(CA) “An Appellate Court would not readily interfere with findings of facts by a trial Court except it is perverse and evident on the record”.

In ODOFIN V AYOOLA (1984) LPELR 2227 (SC): “Where a Court of trial which saw and heard witnesses has come to specific findings of facts on the evidence in issues before it, an appellant Court which had no similar opportunity should refrain from coming to different finding, unless it can show that the conclusion of the trial Court was perverse, or that the conclusion would not follow from the evidence before it”.

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PRESUMPTION AS TO CORRECT FINDING OF FACT

When there is an appeal where there is a finding of fact affirmed by the Court of Appeal, this court would presume that the trial judge’s conclusions are correct. This is so since the trial judge was the only judge who saw and heard the witnesses. When the Court of Appeal affirms the conclusions of the trial court the presumption becomes much stronger. The presumption can only be displaced by the appellant who seeks, to upset the judgment on facts.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Ukeje v. Ukeje (2014)

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FACTS OF THE CASE DETERMINE LEGAL OUTCOME

Whichever is the case, it is important to state and emphasize that in a case of the nature before us, Counsel should have studied the facts of the case very well. Facts are the springboard of law. It is the facts of the case that determine the appropriate remedy.

— I.C. Pats Acholonu, JSC. Abdulhamid v Akar & Anor. (2006) – S.C. 240/2001

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WHEN FINDINGS OF FACT OF TRIAL COURT ARE NOT APPEALED, THERE NO NEED FOR APPELLATE COURT TO REVIEW THEM

There was, with the greatest respect, no earthly reason for the Court of Appeal to review the pleadings and the evidence in view of the findings of fact of the trial Court at p.160 that EXS.D and E were not loan receipts but receipts for the sale of land and the conclusion of law at p.161 “that all the plaintiff got by virtue of the receipts Exhibits D and E was an equitable interest”. There was no cross-appeal by the 2nd Defendant challenging the above findings. What the Court below should have then concentrated on would have been the legal effect of the above findings on the relationship of the Plaintiff and the 2nd Defendant.

— Oputa, JSC. Osagie v. Oyeyinka & Anor. (1987) – SC.194/1985

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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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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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