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WHEN FINDING OF FACT IS SAID TO BE PERVERSE

Dictum

A finding of fact is said to be perverse – (a) Where it runs counter to the evidence and pleadings. (b) Where it has been shown that the trial court took into account matters which it ought not to have taken into account. (c) Where the trial court shuts its eyes to the obvious. (d) When the decision has occasioned a miscarriage of justice. State v. Agie (2000) 11 NWLR pt. 678 pg. 434 Atolagbe v. Shorun (1985) 1 NWLR pt.2 pg. 360 Adimora v. Ajufo (1988) 3 NWLR pt. 80 pg.1. Akinloye v. Eyiyola (1968) NWLR 92.

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

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INTERFERING WITH FINDINGS OF FACT

I agree with the law that an appellate court should not interfere with the findings of fact by a trial court once the findings are based on the evidence upon the pleading of the parties. The appellate court can however interfere where the trial court failed to inter alia make findings or arrived at inconsistent findings on a crucial issue raised by the parties.

– Onnoghen JCA. Union Bank v. Akinrinmade (1999)

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WHERE LOWER COURT FINDINGS WILL BE SET ASIDE

Although appellate courts are very slow and reluctant in interfering with the findings of fact by the trial lower courts, nevertheless where such findings are not borne out by conclusive or positive evidence, or where the lower court did not properly evaluate the evidence before making the findings or where the lower court failed to apply the law properly to the facts proved, the appellate courts are under a duty to interfere with such findings. To neglect to do so will certainly occasion a miscarriage of justice sufficient to warrant a superior appellate court to interfere with the trial court’s findings.

– Mahmud JSC. Ogiorio v. Igbinovia (1998)

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WHAT APPELLATE COURT CONSIDERS WHERE FINDING OF FACT IS CHALLENGED

An appellate court in its primary role in considering a judgment on appeal in a civil case in which the finding or non-finding of facts is questioned will seek to know:- The evidence before the trial court. Whether it accepted or rejected any evidence upon the correct perception. Whether it correctly approached the assessment of the evidence before it and placed the right probative value on it. Whether it used the imaginary scale of justice to weigh the evidence on either side and Whether it appreciated upon the preponderance of evidence which side of the scale weighed having regard to the burden of proof.

– ADEKEYE JCA. Anyafulu v. Agazie (2005)

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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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A COMPLAINT IS CHARACTERISED BY THE CASE FACTS SUBMITTED – (African Court)

The jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights on what qualifies as a complaint is defined as the purpose or legal basis of the claim, The complaint is characterised by the facts alleged in it and not merely by the legal grounds or arguments relied on.

– CHACHA v. THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA (003/2012) [2014] AFCHPR 48 para 120

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EXCEPT FINDINGS OF FACT ARE PERVERSE, APPEAL COURT WILL NOT INTERFERE IN SUCH FINDINGS

Before I turn to the treatment of the above findings of fact by the Court of Appeal, I think I need re-emphasize that where facts in issue, whether in a criminal or civil proceedings are accepted or believed by the trial court and no question of misdirection arises, an appellate court, will not ordinarily interfere with such findings of fact made by a trial Judge which are supported by evidence simply because there is some other evidence in contradiction of the finding or that if the same facts were before the appellate court, it would not have come to the same decision as the trial Judge. See: Ike v. Ugboaja (1993) 6 NWLR (Pt.301) 539;Odofin v. Ayoola, supra; Ogbero Egri v. Uperi (1974) 1 NMLR 22; Ogundulu & Ors. v. Phillips & Ors. (1973) NMLR 267 etc. This, as already stated, is because findings of fact made by a trial court are matters peculiarly within its exclusive jurisdiction and they are presumed to be correct unless and until an appellant satisfactorily proves that they are wrong. Such trial courts saw the witnesses and heard them testify and unless the findings are perverse or unsupported by credible evidence, the Court of Appeal will not interfere with them. See: Adelumola v. The State (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt.73) 683. An appellate court may however interfere with such findings in circumstances such as where the trial court did not make a proper use of the opportunity of seeing and hearing the witnesses at the trial or where it drew wrong conclusions from accepted credible evidence or took an erroneous view of the evidence adduced before it or its findings of fact are perverse in the sense that they did not flow from the evidence accepted by it. See: Okpiri v. Jonah (1961) 1SCNLR 174; (1961) 1 All NLR 102 at 104-5; Maja v. Stocco (1968) 1 All NLR 141 at 149; Woluchem v. Gudi (1981) 5 SC 291 at 295-6 and 326-9.

— Iguh, JSC. Oguonzee v State (1998) – SC.131/97

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