RIGHT TO FAIR HEARING
The section 36, sub (4) and (6) of the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended has help to promote Human Right most particularly right to fair hearing which at first without it, generated a rot of problems in the part of the offenders or accused persons, the lawyers and the court. The objectives of this project are:
(a) To evaluate the importance of human rights particularly fair hearing to human beings.
(b) To evaluate the effects of a country staying without fair hearing in relation with criminal code, criminal litigation and many more in Nigerian
(c) To access to attitude of the court towards section 36 or the 1999 constitution of Nigeria as amended.
(d) Make recommendations that would promote development and rights to fair hearing in Nigeria.
To achieve these, the work is divide into some chapters. Chapter one deals with the introduction, chapter two deals with the purpose and essence of fair hearing in Nigeria, while chapter three deals with fair hearing as a right at the core of natural justice and as an immutable and unassailable principle of law, chapter four deals with the Act vis-s-vis right to for/hear and chapter five deals with the conclusion. The methodology employed are intensive and thorough book research. This will help to improve and awaken the mentality of fair hearing in Nigeria.
TABLE OF CONTENT
Table of contents
Table of cases
Table of statues
Table of abbreviations
Purpose of fair hearing
Audi alterem patem
Nemo judex in causa sua
In azokwu v. Nwokanna supra at 56
Presumption of innocence
Right to information of crime committed
Right to adequate time and facilities to prepare for
Difference between fair trial and fair hearing
Per j. I. Okoro jsc; [p. 21, paras. B-e]
Per a. Sanusi jsc: [p. 30, paras. G – h.)
The land use act vis-à-vis right to fair hearing
References CHAPTER ONE
In any relationship between two or more persons, there is bound to be disagreement or friction between the parties. Where the parties are not equal in status or strength, there is the possibility or likelihood that one party may dominate or oppress the other. It is also safe to say that in a situation where the parties are unequal and one is likely to oppress the other, it can be supposed that the stronger is likely to oppress the weaker, the bigger will oppress the smaller, and the richer will oppress the poorer and so on.
In the symbiotic relationship between the state on the other hand and the citizen on the other hand, there is no gainsaying the fact that the state as an entity is a stronger and bigger than the individual citizen. It is safe to suggest that unless some checks are put in place, the state represented by a few persons elected or selected into offices through which the state acts), is likely to oppress the ordinary citizen.
It is in the light of this fear that the constitution, as well as other statues make elaborate provisions for some safeguards to protect the citizens especially where a citizen is standing trial for a criminal offence.
The word “safeguard” simply means” a thing that serve as a protection from harm, risk or danger” coming from somebody or something see (case of Jonathan Crowther), Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of current English (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998) p. 10:36). Thus when we talk about constitutional and statutory safeguards to ensure fair trial, what is referred to as the protective measures put in place by the constitution and other statues to ensure that an accused person standing trial for an offence is given a fair trial that is, a trial that is not only fair offence is given a fair trial that is, a trial that is not only fair but seen to be fair instead of prosecution of criminal cases. There are many of such legal safeguards. These include:
Rights of suspect and accused persons under Nigerian criminal law is a conscious attempt at putting together in one volume all the information every citizen of this country ought to know about his/her nights, with particular reference to suspects and accused persons, as provided for under the Nigerian constitution and the criminal laws. The knowledge is very important given the fact that anyone could become a suspect or an accused person by accident, omission or commission. Of all segments of the law, the criminal law and its applications, touch and affect the ordinary man in his daily circle of activities, in the most profound way.
Many at times, Nigerians, perceive law as nothing more than criminal law, with the belief that it hovers around him like an irresistible force, directing the totality of his affairs and pursuits in life. Experience has shown over the years, that the greatest obstacle to people’s access to justice, according to law, is not effect, but mainly the paucity of accessible information through a composite reference material, on what this rights are and the ways and how to enforce them. instead, the pieces of information are found in on avalanche of diverse books and periodicals on the laws, statutes, bye laws, miles and regulations, mostly resting in various government libraries, scattered across the length and breadth of the country. The high rate of cases of illegal and wrongful and detentions of ignorant citizens, as well as other brazen acts of intimidation, victimization, torture, extortion and inhuman treatment of citizens, by law enforcement agencies lends credence to the absence of relevant information. This debilitating ignorance finds no excuse in law. It leaves the victim without a respite. Overzealous enforcement agents latch on and exploit all sorts of the ignorance to perpetrate nefarious activities. These enforcement agencies employ brutality and intimidations as their greatest weapon, to oppress, suppress and consummate their ulterior motives against the innocent and ignorant common man.
Everybody no matter his status in life, today has a story to tell, on the reality of this problem, which has inadvertently become part and parcel of our everyday life. This project will therefore conceive, basically as a story, borne out of personal experiences and garnered out of my thorough research because knowledge is power. As a potent weapon of change, it remains the greatest bulk walk against the perpetuation of this sordid state of affairs. The kind of knowledge, referred to above, is no other than, that which will keep one fully abreast, of the whole gamut or corpus of rights, available to you under the laws.
In the light of the identified problems and drawback of the HRA (Human Right Act) and the 1999 constitution of the FRN as amended, these recommendations are hereby preferred.
First, the provisions of section 36 of the 1999 constitution as amended and provisions of section 47 of the Act ousting the jurisdiction of the court to inquire into questions pertaining to vesting of land in the governor, granting of right of occupancy and the amount or adequacy of any compensation paid or to be paid under the act offends the right to fair hearing, right to own property, right to have access to court and should therefore be expunched from the acts. The Land Use Act and allocation Committee must not be the final arbiter on the quantum of compensation, rather, the court or the tribunal should be vested with constitutional rights to entertain matters in respect to fair hearing.
Secondly, it is recommended that the Chief Judge of a State with the veto-power he has should pay frequent visit to Nigerian prisons in order to grant bail to suspect who have been incarcerated in Prison custody for a long time without trial. Many are being tortured probably for the offence they have less or no idea about. Sometimes, it may be that they (the accused person) may not have lawyers to defend them, as a result of that they continue staying in prison custody and suffer badly the hands of the police or prison custodians. So the governor should grant the offenders bail for their immediate release.
Some are being incarcerated in prison custody for awaiting trial in minor offences which if the were convicted would not have spent so long a time in prison or police cell. Some suspects are charged with armed robbery offences which carries capital punishment and these suspects are rarely grated bail, such suspect should be speedily tried because some of them are family dispute armed rubbers, some are land dispute armed rubbers, some are political struggle armed robbers, some are communal dispute armed robbers etc.
Some of the allegations are concocted and fabricated to destroy the destiny of another some are set up and fraudulently libeled to deprive them of the position they would or have occupied. Some also are real armed robbers, therefore the police should instead of detaining these suspect in their custody for along time, they should send the case files to the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) who will file their cases in court.
The court in consideration of my assertion should give much attention to those cases of capital offences in order to grant bail or hear and dispose of such cases so that an innocent person may not be dumped in prison.
Thirdly, it is also recommended that the police should not apply force by torturing the accused person or offender in order to elicit confessional statement under duress from him or her. Instead of torturing the accused person, proper and well-ordered investigations, and interrogations should be carried out but not intimidation. Because in a situation were torture is applied to get the truth out someone (accused or offender) might be forced to say something else and lie thereby implicating another person who was not involved and had no idea about the offence that was committed. Thereby put it to all the interrogators or agents a police to stop torturing an offended for the purpose or getting the truth from that accused person, definitely he might be pushed to lie, which may have not been his intention, so that is why am suggesting and at the same time advising the instead of applying force or torture on the accused, proper interrogations should be made by a well specialized and agent, that has the know-how and the necessary techniques to carryout and even the questions to ask and the kind of words to use; by this, solutions to such situations can be made easy and un-stressful..