A CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF THE RIGHTS OF AN ACCUSED UNDER THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM

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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.

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 good 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.