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UNCHALLENGED FINDINGS OF FACT ARE DEEMED TO BE ADMITTED BY A PARTY

Dictum

The law is trite that a specific finding of fact by a court which is neither challenged nor appealed is deemed to be an acceptable and admitted fact by the party against whom it was made. In this case, this specific finding of fact was made concurrently by the trial court and the lower court. Such findings of fact, as this Court held in BAKARE v. THE STATE (1987) 3 SC 1, are presumed to be correct. The burden of displacing this presumption is on the party challenging the specific finding, as this Respondent purports to do belatedly and without any cross-appeal. The burden, as Agim, JCA, stated in DONATUS OKAFOR v. IFEANYIISIADINSO (2014) LPELR – 14 23013 (CA), is not discharged by a mere assertion that the findings is wrong.

— E. Eko, JSC. CITEC v. Edicomisa (2017) – SC. 163 2006

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APPEAL COURT WILL REVERSE WRONG FINDINGS OF FACT

It is true that the Court of Appeal will be reluctant to upset the findings of fact of a trial court but where as in this case the learned trial court draws wrong conclusions from the totality of the evidence before it, the Court of Appeal will and in fact has a duty to reverse the wrong conclusions and make findings that the facts before it demand.

– Babalakin JSC. Finnih v. Imade (1992)

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TWO TYPES OF FINDING OF FACTS – WHEN APPEAL COURT CAN INTERFERE

In a trial, there are generally two sets of findings of facts: A finding of fact may be based on the credibility of witnesses or may be informed from other facts proved before the trial court. Where a witness gives direct evidence that is the evidence of the facts in issue as seen, heard or perceived by any other sense by him. (Section 77 of the Evidence Act). The finding of the trial court on such evidence depends on whether or not it believes that witness (credibility of the witness). Such a finding on such evidence is a primary finding of fact, i.e. the way the witness testifies, his demeanor in the box tells much of his credibility. The trial court that saw and heard the witness is in the best position to assess his credibility and make findings of primary facts. But, where on the other hand, other facts are put in evidence from which the facts in issue can be inferred, or where a witness gave circumstantial evidence, the finding of the trial court on the facts in issue depends on inference. This is a secondary finding of fact as it is not based on the credibility of the witness but on logical process of inference. In the former’s case, i.e. primary findings of fact, an appeal court should always be loathe in interfering with such a finding as it did not have the privilege of seeing, hearing or observing the demeanour of the witness. There are several decided authorities on this: Ebba v. Ogodo & Anor (1984) 4 SC 75; Akintola v. Olowa (1962) 1 All NLR 224; Fatoyinbo v. Williams (1956) 1 FSC 87; Egri v. Uperi (1974) 1 NMLR 22; just to mention a few. In the latter’s case, i.e. where findings of fact are secondary, i.e. drawn from inferences, an appeal court is in as good position as a court of trial to do this. It can differ from the trial court. See: Akpopuma V. Nzeka (1983) 2 SCNLR 1.

— T. Muhammad, JSC. VAB Petroleum v. Momah (2013) – SC.99/2004

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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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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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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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