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
4
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
6
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
7
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.
8
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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