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THE RIGHT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON UNDER THE NIGERIAN LEGAL SYSTEM

THE RIGHT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON UNDER THE NIGERIAN LEGAL SYSTEM

ABSTRACT

Under the Nigerian criminal justice the constitutional right of an accused person is

enshrined in Section 35 and 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of

Nigeria 1999 such rights include, the right to be informed promptly in the language

that he understands, the details and nature of the offence of the accused, the right to

be given adequate time to prepare his defence, the right to defend himself in person

or by legal practitioner of his own choice, the right to have an interpreter free of

charge if he does not understand the language of the court, the right to have record of

the proceeding kept and the right to have copies of this within seven days of the

conclusion of the case, the right to remain silent during the trial, the right not to be

tried and convicted twice for the same offence, the right to be presumed innocent

until he is proved guilty and the right not to be charged for an unwritten offence. All

these rights aimed at ensuring that an accused person is not unjustly dealt with.

Also the relevant provisions in CRIMINAL PROCEDURE CODE, CRIMINAL

PROCEDURE ACT and the CHILD RIGHT ACT shed more light on the rights of

an accused person in criminal trials. The thesis in its totality is channelled toward

making sure that Nigerians are fully informed/aware of their rights especially the

accused person and how it could be enforced. This project will not seek to look at the

rights generally but most importantly the right of an accused person vis-a-vis the

relevant provisions.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

COVER PAGE………………………………………………………………………………………………. i

CERTIFICATION PAGE……………………………………………………………………………….iii

ABSTRACT………………………………………………………………………………………………….iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS…………………………………………………………… v

DEDICATION……………………………………………………………………………………………..vii

ACKNOWLEDGMENT……………………………………………………………………………….. ix

TABLE OF CASES………………………………………………………………………………………. xi

TABLE OF STATUTES………………………………………………………………………………. xii

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS………………………………………………………………………. xiii

CHAPTER 1

 

TABLE OF CASES

NIGERIA

Aliu Bello V the Attorney General of Oyo State (1986) 5 NWLR 828

Dele Giwa V Inspector General of Police 6 NCLR 369

Dogo V Commissioner of Police (pt.1980) 1 NCR 14, 17

Domini Peter Ekannen V Assistant Inspector General of Police (2008) All FWLR

(pt.420) 77, 775

Gani Fawehinmi V Abacha (1998) 1 HRLRA

Liversidge V Anderson (1942) AC206, 244

Nigeria Custom Prison Service V Adekeye (2002) 7 S.C (pt.111) P.188, 195

Ogoli V Federal Republic of Nigeria (2002) 10 NSCQR (pt.1) 498

Olufeagba V Abdur-Raheem (2010) All FWLR (pt.512) 1033, 1042

Shugaba Darman V Minister of Internal Affairs (1981) 2 NCLR 459

Thomas & four other V Timothy Olufosoye (1966) All NLR 178

Tori V National Park Service of Nigeria (2009) All FWLR (pt.495) 1779, 1789

Uwaekweghinya V State (2005) 1 NCC 369, 379

Uwazurike V Attorney General of the Federation (2009) All FWLR (pt.489) 549, 553

xii

TABLE OF STATUTES

NIGERIA

 Child Right Act cap 50 LFN 2004

 Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, Cap 24, LFN 2004

 Criminal Procedure Act, Laws of Southern Nigeria

 Criminal Procedure Code, Laws of Northern Nigeria

 Laws of Kwara State of Nigeria Vol.1 Cap 29

 Legal Aid Act Cap.L9 Vol.8 LFN 2004

 Promulgation of Cap.10 (Ratification and Enforcement ACT) LFN 1990

xiii

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

 ABULSJ: Ahmadu Bello University Law Society Journal

 AC: Appeal Cases

 CAP: Chapter

 FWLR: Federal Weekly Law Report

 HRLRA: Human Right Law Reports of Africa

 LFN: Law of the Federation of Nigeria

 NCC: Nigeria Constitutional Cases

 NCLR: Nigerian Constitutional Law Reports

 NLR: Nigeria Law Reports

 NSCQR: Nigerian Supreme Court Quarterly Report

 NWLR: Nigeria Weekly Law Report

 P: Page

 SC: Supreme Court

 UILSSJ University of Ilorin Law Student Society Journal

 Vol: Volume

1

CHAPTER I

GENERAL INTRODUCTION

1.0.0: INTRODUCTION

When a suspect is described as having right, he is acknowledged to be entitled to

something to which he has just claim under the law. By virtue of man’s creation, he

has certain rights which are common to those of all other men. Most of the

fundamental rights are in a sense natural right vested in every individual and to

which he is entitled without any obligation or duty on the part of the government to

provide facilities for their enjoyment.

Moreover, all fundamental rights are in the final analysis rights, which impose

limitations on executive, legislative or judicial powers of the government and are

accordingly easily justifiable. Fundamental Human Right entails universal humanity

which men enjoys and shares with his fellow men whether he is a suspect or a

freeman. This in its totality has informed the writing of this project.

1.1.0: BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY

Based on the adoption of universal declaration of Human Rights and the

incorporation of fundamental human rights in our constitution, basic fundamental

human rights have been created and which should be respected by all men in the

Nigeria society. Unfortunately however, many people in our society face untold

2

hardship day in day out because they are denied their basic rights, which normally

the Constitution of Nigeria would enforce even though they are suspects but because

they are unaware of these rights they rarely or never claim them. However, those

who are saddled with these responsibilities fail to do their work properly. In this

respect, this project will discuss some of the rights and the major rights of the

suspects and how it could be known, respected and enforced properly by those

concerned.

1.2.0: STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM

Even though there is a universal declaration of Fundamental Human Rights and

Chapter IV of the Nigerian constitution in Fundamental Human Rights, the

practicality has not been perfect because of the prevailing situation of unlawful

treatment of suspects in the country.

It is unlawful to treat suspect any how simply because they are being regarded as

suspects. This clearly shows that the judiciary is aware of the right of an accused

person and that it is sacrosanct and cannot be taken away unlawfully in this country.

The violations of these rights have been so rampant in Nigeria.

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1.3.0: OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

  1. To study the relevance of the rule of law as a vital instrument for the protection

and enjoyment of Fundamental Human Right by the people most especially an

accused person, who is the main centre of this work.

  1. To know the principle of the rule of law, through which the rights of the

accused can be respected and recognized by everyone.

iii. To enable the people know the best way to seek redress in the court of law

whenever their rights are being infringed upon.

1.4.0: PURPOSE OF THE STUDY

Ignorance as we all know is a disease, and has been earlier said, Nigerians generally

are not well abreast of their legal rights even though it has been boldly written and

spelt out in the Constitution of the country. But because every disease has a cure, the

cure for the lack of awareness of these rights is the major purpose of this work

particularly the right of an accused as stipulated in section 36 of the Constitution of

the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Which are: Right to silence, Right to be presumed

innocent until proved guilty, Right to an interpreter, Right to informed properly the

nature and detail of the charge among others

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1.5.0: METHODOLOGY

The method that will be used to carry out this work is descriptive and not analytical.

Major primary and secondary sources of law would be considered for the proper

appraisal of this topic. The primary sources include the Constitution of the Federal

Republic of Nigeria, mainly Chapter IV and Section 35 and 36; the Criminal

Procedure Code; the Criminal Procedure Act; and the Child Rights Act. The

secondary source includes the International Articles on pro-bono services.

1.6.0: DEFINITION OF TERMS

ACCUSED: One charged with an offence

AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM: The other party must be heard

LEGAL AID: Free or inexpensive legal services provided to those who cannot afford

to pay full price. Legal Aid is usually administered locally by a

specially established organisation

NEMO DEBET ESSE JUDEX IN PROPRIA CAUSA: No one can be a judge in his

own case

PRO BONO: Being or involving uncompensated legal services especially for the

public good

5

PUBLIC DEFENDER: A lawyer or staff of lawyers, usually publicly appointed and

paid, whose duty is to represent indigent criminal defendants

SUSPECT: A person believed to have committed a crime or offence. To consider

wrong doing without certain truth

UBI JUS IBI REMEDIUM: Where there is a right there is a remedy

1.7.0: LITERATURE REVIEW

Jide Bodede1 opined that the right of fair hearing within a reasonable time is the

fundamental right of every accused person guaranteed in the constitution. He

emphasizes the importance of the right to fair hearing as entitled to everyone

especially an accused person.

Adesiyan G.O2 on the right of an accused person to silence limiting his work to

Nigeria says that while the police have a legal right to interrogate a suspect, any use

of force made to make him answer a question is illegal and judges rule was introduce

as a result of discuss.

1 Criminal Evidence in Nigeria, (Florence and Lambard, Nig. Ltd publisher 2008 )p.89

2 An Accused Person’s Rights in Nigeria Criminal Law, (Heinemann Educational Books Nigeria

1996) p.67

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Ibrahim Imam3 View on the constitutional safeguard for an accused person rights to

fair trial in the Nigerian criminal justice write extensively on the duty of counsel to

an accused person in criminal proceeding that he should devote himself completely

to his task irrespective of what he may think of the charge.

To Onawola4 explained that where a bail condition is breached, the bail granted will

be revoked if the accused is found supported with clear evidence to have interfered

with witnesses or otherwise obstruct the cause of justice.

Audi Jummai5 opined that human rights contained in the constitution will be

meaningless if we cannot enforce its breaches (Ubi Jus Ibi remeduim).

1.8.0: CONCLUSION

A vibrant and effective criminal justice is an absolute necessity if law and order is to

be maintained in any society. Under Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution of the

Federal Republic of Nigeria, the rights of an accused person standing trial for a

criminal offence are fully guaranteed. The relevant sections are sections 35 and 36 of

3 Constitutional Safeguard of the Accused Person Rights to Fair Trial in the Nigeria Criminal Law,

(2008) The Legal Issues, a publication of Legal Aid Club. p. 273

4 Bail and Bail pending – An appraisal (2007) UILSSJ 12 P.5

5 Means of Enforcing Human Rights, Accountability and Democracy in Nigeria (1999) ABULJ, 6

p.150

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the 1999 constitution. For an effective criminal justice to come to stay, the law is to

adequately protect the accused person rights so that justice is not only done but seen

to be done because the full weights of the laws tend to fall towards the accused.

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CHAPTER 2

THE CONCEPT OF HUMAN RIGHT

2.0.0: INTRODUCTION

The issue of human right is the most widely debated issue in the world today and

which cannot be meddle with. The phrase ‘Human rights’ are qualified as civil or

legal, absolute or inalienable and fundamental or universal right.

When we talks of inalienable right, it means a right which is an integral part of an

individual [dignity of human] which cannot be taken away stricto- Sensu because the

taking away of such rights would be tantamount to inhuman treatment6, this was held

in Thomas & Four Ors v Timothy Olufosoye7

In common parlance “right” means an action or conduct which is morally

good in the eyes of the law. Thus, whoever keeps the law does right and

whoever violates it does wrong. Also, human right is based on the

assumption of a natural law that posits that there are certain immutable

rights that belong to man everywhere and which in virtue of man’s security

should be secured and guaranteed to everyone. Such rights are not right

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Updated: March 29, 2018 — 3:02 pm

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