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WHEN FINDINGS OF FACT OF TRIAL COURT ARE NOT APPEALED, THERE NO NEED FOR APPELLATE COURT TO REVIEW THEM

Dictum

There was, with the greatest respect, no earthly reason for the Court of Appeal to review the pleadings and the evidence in view of the findings of fact of the trial Court at p.160 that EXS.D and E were not loan receipts but receipts for the sale of land and the conclusion of law at p.161 “that all the plaintiff got by virtue of the receipts Exhibits D and E was an equitable interest”. There was no cross-appeal by the 2nd Defendant challenging the above findings. What the Court below should have then concentrated on would have been the legal effect of the above findings on the relationship of the Plaintiff and the 2nd Defendant.

— Oputa, JSC. Osagie v. Oyeyinka & Anor. (1987) – SC.194/1985

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PARTY CANNOT RAISE NEW ARGUMENT FOR THE FIRST TIME ON APPEAL WITHOUT LEAVE

A counsel cannot make out a case not pleaded by a litigant in his address before the court. Where the appellant did not predicate her case on customary law before the lower court, she cannot raise same here afresh before this court. The simple answer is that an appeal is not a new action but a continuation of the matter which is the subject – mater of the appeal. Hence an appellant cannot be allowed to set up a case different to that which was made out at the court below. This is because the appellate court would not have had the benefit of the opinion of the lower court on the issue. Eze V. A- G Rivers State (2001) 18 NWLR pt, 746, pg. 524 Ejiofodomi V. Okonkwo (1982) II SC 74 Dwege V. Iyamahan (1983) 8 SC 76 A-G Oyo State V. Fairlakes Hotels Limited (1988) 5 NWLR pt. 92, pg. 1 FRN V. Zebra Energy Limited (2002) 3 NWLR pt. 754, pg. 471.

— O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Agboola v UBA (2011) – SC.86/2003

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WHERE NO APPEAL AGAINST SPECIFIC FINDINGS, THOSE FINDINGS REMAIN UNASSAILABLE

The excerpts above of the trial Court findings and conclusions were not appealed against at the lower Court which throws up the settled law that where there is no appeal against specific findings of fact made at the trial Court, those findings remain for all time unassailable and deemed accepted as representing the true state of affairs. It therefore becomes futile trying to smuggle those same issues at another level of appeal since they have in effect been conceded by the party against whom they were decided and remains valid and binding on all parties forever. I rely on Anyanwu v Ogunewe (2014) All FWLR (Pt. 738) 1012 at 1037; Nwankwo v Yar’Adua (2010) All FWLR (Pt.534) 1; L.A. & A.C. Ltd v U.B.A. Plc (2014) All FWLR (Pt.739) 1080 at 1094.

— M.U. Peter-Odili, JSC. MTN v. Corporate (2019) – SC.674/2014

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WAYS BY WHICH FACTS ARE PROVED IN COURT

Now, a court in the determination of a matter before it enquires into and relies on the relevant facts led by parties before it, draws inferences from such facts and the arguments canvassed by the parties or their counsel. Judicial evidence is the means by which the facts relied upon in taking decisions are proved. Facts are proved by oral testimony of the persons who perceived them, by the production of documents and inspections of things or places. Facts can also be proved by admissions, confessions, judicial notice, presumptions and estoppel. A Judge is free to take Judicial notice of all such facts he is either called upon to or from his general knowledge of such facts or from enquiries made by him on such facts from sources to which it is proper for him to refer.

– M.D. Muhammad, J.C.A. Shona-Jason v Omega Air (2005) – CA/L/418/2000

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APPEAL IS THE CONTINUATION OF THE ORIGINAL ACTION

It is also trite that an appeal is a continuation of the original action. The parties are therefore confined to their case as pleaded and presented at the Court of first instance. See: Ngige Vs Obi (2006) 14 NWLR (Pt.999) 1 @ 225; Adegoke Motors Vs Adesanya (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 109) 250 @ 266; Alhassan Vs Ishaku (2016) LPELR – 40083 (SC) @ 680.

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

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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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A RESPONDENT IS TO DEFEND THE JUDGEMENT ON APPEAL

A Respondent’s role in an Appeal is to defend the judgment on Appeal, and not attack it. On the other hand, it is duty of the Appellant to attack the judgment. After all he filed the Appeal because he believes it is wrong. If a Respondent is not satisfied with the judgment on Appeal he should file a Cross Appeal or Respondents Notice. See New Nig Bank PLC v Egun (2001) 7 NWLR (Pt. 711) p.1 and Ibe v Onuorah (1999) 14 NWLR (Pt. 638) p. 340. It must be noted, though that a Cross Appeal and a Respondents Notice cannot co-exist.

— O. Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Bakari v. Ogundipe (2020) – SC.514/2015

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