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WHAT IS MISDIRECTION

Dictum

See ACHILIHU VS ANYATONWU (2013) 1 SCNJ 332 at 359 thus: “The exception is where there is misdirection by the trial Court. Misdirection occurs where issues of fact in the case for the parties or the law applicable to the issue raised are not fairly appraised or considered or misconceived or the law applicable is incorrectly applied by the trial Court as a result there would be a miscarriage of justice if the decision reached is allowed to stand.”

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ERROR IN LAW IS MISTAKEN APPLICATION OF THE LAW TO FACTS

What is error and misdirection or put in another way what constitute or amount to error and misdirection in law. An error in law is defined as a mistaken judgment incorrect as to the existence or effect of matters of fact or a false misconception or application of law. A mistake of law or fact or irregular application of the law, such as to vitiate the proceedings and warrants the reversal of the judgments appealed against. See the case of NWADIKE V. IBEKWE (1987) 4 NWLR 718 at 744. Misdirection in law is when the judge misconceives the issues whether of fact, law or summarises the evidence inadequately or incorrectly. Misdirection may come to be by positive act of the trial judge or by non direction see the old case of CHIDIAK V. LAGUDA (1964) 1 N.M.L.R 123 at 125. Let me add that where the mistake is substantial to the extent that it affects or the decision appealed against, the appeal would be allowed in that such mistakes would amount to miscarriage of justice. See the case of ONAKOYA V. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERA (2002) 11 NWLR (part. 779) 595, where it was held that it is not in every slip of the lower Court that will result in an appeal being allowed.

— M.N. Oniyangi JCA. Presentation National High School & Ors. v. Ogbebor (CA/B/105/2012, 17 MAY 2018)

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NOT EVERY APPEAL ON ERROR WILL SUCCEED; THE ERROR MUST OCCASION A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

I think I ought to point out in this connection that even if there was any error in the procedure the evidence of the fourth defendant was taken, and I clearly do not so hold, it is not every error or mistake that will result in an appeal against the judgment in a suit being allowed. It is only when the error is substantial in that it has occasioned a miscarriage of justice that an appellate court is bound to interfere. (See Onajobi v Olanipekun (1985) 4 SC (Part 2) 156 at 163; Ukejianya v Uchendu 13 WACA 45, at 46; Anyanwu v Mbara (1992) 5 NWLR (Part 242) 386 at 400; Azuetonma lke v Ugboaja (1993) 6 NWLR (Part 301) 539 at 556 etc.).

— Iguh JSC. Chime v Chime (2001) – SC 179/1991

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AN ERROR OF LAW COMPLAINED OF MUST HAVE CAUSED A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

OLADEJO ADEWUYI AJUWON & ORS VS FADELE AKANNI & ORS (1993) 12 SCNJ 32 AT 52 this Court held “It is not every error of law that is committed by a trial or appellate Court that justifies the reversal of a judgment. An appellant, to secure the reversal of a judgment, must further establish that the error of law complained of did in fact occasion a miscarriage of justice and/or substantially affected the result of the decision. An error in law which has occasioned no miscarriage of justice is immaterial and may not affect the final decision of a Court. This is because what an Appeal Court has to decide is whether the decision of judge was right and not whether his reasons were, and a misdirection that does not occasion injustice is immaterial. The error in law in applying the doctrine of lis pendens complained of did not occasion any miscarriage of justice. The erroneous application of the doctrine of lis pendens notwithstanding, there was no other course that was open to the Court of Appeal in the appeal than to invalidate the sale in issue and to dismiss the appeal before it”.

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EXCEPT ACCUSED IS MISLED AN ERROR IS NOT MATERIAL

It has to be pointed out that by virtue of Section 166 of the Criminal Procedure Act, no error in stating the offence or the particulars required to be stated in the charge and no omission to state the offence or those particulars shall be regarded at any stage of the case as material unless the accused was infact misled by such error or omission.

– M. Peter-Odili, JSC. Enabeli v. State (2021)

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