THE RIGHT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON UNDER THE NIGERIAN LEGAL SYSTEM

THE RIGHT OF AN ACCUSED PERSON UNDER THE NIGERIAN LEGAL SYSTEM

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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 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.

1.3.0: OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

i. 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.

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

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 organization.

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 goodPUBLIC 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

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 Ibiremeduim).

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

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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