Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

PLEA BEFORE TRIAL COMMENCES

Dictum

The trial does not commence until the plea is taken.

– Chima Centus Nweze, J.S.C. Independent National Electoral Commission & Anor v. Ejike Oguebego & Ors (2017)

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

IT IS THE PRIMARY DUTY OF TRIAL COURT TO ASSESS WITNESSES

I fully subscribe to the well settled position of the law that an appellate Court which had not seen the witnesses testify and observe their demeanour in the witness stand, should respect the views of a trial Court and should not readily substitute its own views except where it is shown that the conclusion reached by the Court below was perverse. An appellate Court must always bear it in mind that the primary function of assessing the quality of evidence and ascribing probative value thereto is that of the trial Court, which heard and saw the witnesses testify. Thus, it is only when the findings of the trial Court have been demonstrated to be perverse as not flowing from the established and proved evidence or hinged on extraneous matters or for whatsoever other reasons not correct that an appellate Court would intervene to disturb such findings of fact and re-evaluate the evidence on the printed record, if so called upon by the Appellant to make proper findings in accordance with the dictates of justice. See Saeed v. Yakowa (2013) All FWLR (P. 692) 1650 @ p. 1681. See also Layinka v. Makinde (2002) FWLR (Pt. 109) 1557 @ p. 1570; Martins v. COP (2013) All FWLR (Pt. 666) 446 @ p. 460; Obajimi v. Adeobi (2008) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1075) 1 @ p. 19. See also Owor v. Christopher (2010) All FWLR (Pt. 511) 962 @ p. 992; Sogbamu v. Odunaiya (2013) All FWLR (Pt. 700) 1247 @ p. 1307.

— B.A. Georgewill JCA. Stanbic IBTC Bank Plc V. Longterm Global Capital Limited & Ors. (CA/L/427/2016, 9 Mar 2018)

Was this dictum helpful?

WHERE ABSENT PANELIST RELIES ON REPORT OF OTHER COLLEAGUES

In Nwalutu v. NBA & Anor (2019) 8 NWLR Pt.1673 Pg.174 at Pg.195. wherein his Lordship stated thus: “It appears to me, and I so hold, that when an absent panelist relies on the colleague present when a witness (es) testified to render an opinion that such opinion is premised on hearsay evidence and it is perverse. A Decision in the circumstance is nothing but travesty of justice. In such circumstance also, it cannot be said that the person tried by the LPDC had received fair trial. Fair hearing, as this Court has consistently held, involves a fair trial and a fair trial of a case consists of the whole hearing. There is no difference between the two.”

Was this dictum helpful?

STATUTE SETTING TRIAL TIME LIMIT IS VOID

Bello, JSC, (later CJN, now of blessed memory) in the case of Unongo v. Aku and Ors. (1983) 14 NSCC 563 at 577-578 thus – “One of the powers which has always been recognised as inherent in courts has been the right to control their internal proceedings and to so conduct the same that the rights of all suitors before them may be safeguarded in such a manner that all parties are given ample opportunity to prosecute or defend the cases for or against them without let or hinderance. The old adage that delay of justice is denial of justice has the same force as the maxim that hasty or hurried justice is also a denial of justice. On this account any statute which prescribes time limit within which a trial court must try and determine cases or within which an appeal court must hear and determine appeals is inconsistent with the provisions of Sections 4(8) and 6(9)(b) of the Constitution and is therefore void by virtue of Section 1(3) of the Constitution.”

Was this dictum helpful?

VARIATIONS IN LPDC PANEL MEMBERS AFFECTS ITS’ FINAL DECISION

In Adeigbe & Anor v. Salami Kusimo & Ors (1965) LPELR -25226 (SC) this issue was properly explained by Ademola JSC (as he then was) as follows: “The complaint against a hearing that was not always before the same bench does not pertain to any matter that goes to the jurisdiction of the Court. It is at bottom a complaint that the judgment cannot be satisfactory on the ground that as the persons who gave it had not seen and heard all the witnesses, they could not appraise the evidence as a whole and decide the facts properly. Thus, it is a complaint on the soundness of the judgment itself, and not a complaint that is extrinsic to the adjudication, which is the test to apply when considering a submission on jurisdiction. We are therefore of the opinion that variations in the bench do not make the judgment a nullity; they may make it unsatisfactory, and it may have to be set aside for this reason, but whether they do or not depends on the particular circumstances of the case.”

Was this dictum helpful?

DISCIPLINARY PANEL CANNOT TRY OFFENCES IN THE CRIMINAL/PENAL CODE

The trial of erring students for criminal offences or breaches of the criminal code and penal code Laws are not within the jurisdiction conferred. Accordingly the purported investigation by the Investigating Panel and Disciplinary Board and the punishment meted out to the appellants cannot stand and are hereby declared a nullity … It is in the interest of the Government and every individual in this country that the guilt of crime should not be tagged on to any individual without a proper trial in courts of law known as such under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. – Andrews Otutu Obaseki, JSC. Garba & Ors. v. The University Of Maiduguri (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt.18) 550

Was this dictum helpful?

ASSESSMENT OF WITNESS IS WITHIN THE PROVINCE OF THE TRIAL COURT

In the case of Afolalu v. The State (2012) vol. 10 LRCNCC 30 at 40, ratio 13; (2010) 16 NWLR (Pt. 1220) 584, when this court held, inter alia, that: “The assessment of credibility of a witness is a matter within the province of the trial court as it is the only court that has the advantage of seeing, watching and observing the witness in the witness box. The court also has the liberty and privilege of believing him and accepting his evidence in preference to the evidence adduced by the defence. On the issue of credibility of witnesses, the appraisal of evidence and the confidence to be reposed in the testimony of any witness, an appellate court cannot on printed evidence usurp the essential function of the trial court which saw, heard and watched the witnesses testify.”

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.