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UNLESS CLEAR ERROR IS SHOWN, CONCURRENT FINDING WILL NOT BE DISTURBED

Dictum

The attitude of the Supreme Court to concurrent findings of fact has been reiterated in a plethora of authorities. In Ogundiyan Vs The State (1991) 3 NWLR Pt. 1811 519 @ 528-529 H-A this court held per Obaseki, JSC: “without any clear evidence of errors in law or fact leading to or occasioning miscarriage of justice, this court will not interfere with the concurrent findings. It is settled law that there must be clear proof of error either of law or fact on the record which has occasioned miscarriage of justice before the Supreme Court can upset or reverse concurrent findings of fact,” Per Nnaemaka-Agu, JSC in Ogoala Vs The State (1991) 2 NWLR (Pt. 175) 509 @: It is settled that where there is sufficient evidence to support the findings of fact by two lower courts, such findings should not be disturbed unless there is a substantial error apparent on the record: that is, the findings have been shown to be perverse, or some miscarriage of justice or some material violation of some principle of law or procedure is shown.”

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CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACT – WHEN CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACT WILL BE DISTURBED

Where the appeal challenges only the concurrent findings of fact the burden on the appellant to displace the presumption that the concurrent findings of fact are correct is made difficult by the rule of practice in the appellate Courts to the effect that an appellate Court is loathe to disturb concurrent findings of fact and therefore such concurrent findings of fact should rarely disturbed: ENANG v. ADU (1981) 11 12 SC 17 at 27 (Reprint) … The usual circumstances concurrent findings of fact are disturbed are: when it is shown that the findings are perverse and not the result of a proper exercise of judicial discretion, 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 inference from the admitted or established facts: UBANI & ORS v. THE STATE (2003) 18 NWLR (PT. 851) 224.

— E. Eko, JSC. Lawali v State (2019) – SC.272/2017

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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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REASON WHY NOT TO INTERFERE IN CONCURRENT FINDINGS

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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MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE WILL LEAD TO REVERSAL OF CONCURRENT FINDINGS

This court would be quick to reverse concurrent findings of fact if there was miscarriage of justice or a violation of some principle of law or procedure or the finding, is found to be perverse.

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

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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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SUPREME COURT WILL NOT INTERFERE WILL CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF LOWER COURTS

We have to emphasize all over again that the Supreme Court will not interfere with the concurrent findings of a trial court and the court of Appeal on issues of fact. The two courts are presumed to have considered all the facts necessary for their coming to such findings. The Supreme Court will only disturb or upturn a concurrent finding of fact of the two lower courts in exceptional circumstances like: – (1) Where violation of some principles of law or procedure exists, and such erroneous proposition cannot stand if not corrected; (2) Patently erroneous findings of fact which amount to a travesty of justice if not left uncorrected; (3) Where the findings of fact are erroneous or perverse.

— O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Mini Lodge v. Ngei (2009) – SC.231/2006

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