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WHEN COURT WILL INTERFERE IN THE EXERCISE BY THE TRIAL COURT

Dictum

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

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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WHERE CONCURRENT FINDINGS, THE SUPREME COURT WILL NOT INTERFERE

In view of the concurrent findings of fact by both the High Court and the Court of Appeal on the issues raised in this case, and in the absence of any special circumstance warranting this Court to do so, this Court will not interfere. See Ukpe Ibodo & Ors. v. Enarofie & Ors. (1980) 5-7 S.C. 42 at 55; David Dawodu Lokoyi & Anor. v. Emmanuel Babalola Olojo (1983) 8 S.C. 61 and Sockna Moromodu Allie & Ors. v. Ahmed Alhaji & Ors. 13 W.A.C.A. 320, particularly at 321 wherein their Lordships of the Privy Council stated thus: “However that may be, it is not a matter upon which their Lordships could or ever do, interfere, when the matter has been not only to the Court of first instance but to the Court of Appeal in the Colony itself.”

— Wali, JSC. Uredi v. Dada (1998) – SC.106/1986

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CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF FACT

The position of this Court has always been to refrain from interfering with concurrent findings of fact unless it is shown that the findings are perverse. A finding is perverse (i) Where it is not supported by evidence on the record; (ii) Where it does not reflect a proper exercise of judicial discretion; (iii) Where evidence has been wrongly admitted or rejected at the trial; (iv) Where there has been an erroneous appraisal of facts leading to erroneous conclusion; (v) Where the finding has been reached as a result of a wrong application of some principles of substantive law or procedure. See: Ayeni Vs Adesina (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt. 370) 1451 @ 1457-1458; Woluchem Vs Gudi (1981) 5 SC 291 @ 326; Adegbite Vs Ogunfaolu, (1990) 4 NWLR (Pt.146) 578; Itu Vs The State (2016) 5 NWLR (Pt.1506) 443.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. MTN v. Corporate (2019) – SC.674/2014

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