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REASON WHY NOT TO INTERFERE IN CONCURRENT FINDINGS

Dictum

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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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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INTERFERENCE: WHERE APPELLATE COURT CAN INTERFERE WITH TRIAL COURT’S FINDING

As a matter of practice, this court rarely interferes with or disturbs the concurrent finding of two lower court, except in special or exceptional circumstances. Some of these exceptional or special circumstance that would warrant such interference by an appeal court are if it is shown that there was a miscarriage of justice, misconception of fact or serious violation of some principle of law whether substantive or procedural or that such findings were erroneous or perverse.

– Sanusi JSC. Chemiron v. Stabilini (2018)

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ONLY IN EXTREME CIRCUMSTANCES WILL DISCRETION OF TRIAL JUDGE BE REVERSED

It is a trite procedural tenet that the evaluation of evidence and ascription of probative value to such evidence are the exclusive preserve of the trial court which had the opportunity of hearing and assessing the testimony and conduct of the witnesses. It is unusual for an appellate court to disturb such findings of a trial court except where it is found to be perverse irrational or does not accord with common sense. See DARE VS FAGBAMILA (2009) 14 NWLR (PT 1160) 177; SULE VS HABU (2011) 7 NWLR (PT 1246) 339 and KARIBO VS GREND (1992) 3 NWLR (PT 230) 426.

— S.C. Oseji, JCA. ACB v Ajugwo (2011) – CA/E/66/2006

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NATURE OF CONCURRENT FINDINGS

There are thus concurrent findings of fact that the appellant was in breach of contract to fly the respondent from Lagos to Manzini and back to Lagos. It is very well settled that concurrent findings by the trial court and the court of Appeal would not be disturbed by the Supreme Court except there has been exceptional circumstances to disturb those findings such as: 1. The findings cannot be supported by evidence, or are perverse. 2. There is miscarriage of justice or violation of law or procedure.

– Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Cameroon v. Otutuizu (2011) – SC.217/2004

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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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WHEN THE SUPREME COURT WILL SET ASIDE A CONCURRENT DECISION OF A COURT

From the onset it must be emphasized that being a concurrent finding of fact by the two courts, this Court is very slow at intervening except where the Appellants succeed in showing to us that notwithstanding the fact of concurrence in the decisions of both courts, the finding is perverse or that the finding has violated some essential principle of law or procedure and that the violation is substantial enough to lead to miscarriage of justice. See Onowan v Isarhjen (1976) 9-10 SC 95, Fashanu v. Adekoya (1974) 1 ALL NLR (PT. 1) 35 and Onwuka v Ediala (1989) 1 NWLR (pt.96) 182 at 202. It is only if this is demonstrated that this court will interfere. See Abinabina v Enyimadu 12 WACA 171 at 173, Omoborinola II v Military Governor Ondo State (1998) 14 NWLR (pt 584) 89 at 107, U.A.C Nig. Ltd. v Fashoyiten (1998) 11 NWLR (pt.573) 199 at 185 and Chinwedu v Mbamah & Or (1980) 3-4 SC 31 at 75.

— M.D. Muhammad, JSC. Kubor v. Dickson (2012) – SC.369/2012

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