Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution: Right to Fair Hearing

Fair Hearing

The 1999 Constitution

Section 36 (1)

In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.

(This mean that every citizen of Nigeria in order to defend of his/her rights and obligations as a citizen of Nigeria has the right to a hearing that is fair within a reasonable time in any lawful court or tribunal in the Country to enforce his/her rights against any Government or person, and such a Court or tribunal shall be formed in a way to secure its independence and impartiality)


Section 36 (2)

Without prejudice to the foregoing provisions of this section, a law shall not be invalidated by reason only that it confers on any government or authority power to determine questions arising in the administration of a law that affects or may affect the civil rights and obligations of any person if such law –

(Without prejudice to the application of the laws in this section, a law shall not be nullified solely because it gives the government powers that affect the civil rights and obligations of any person if such law -)


Section 36 (2) (a)

provides for an opportunity for the persons whose rights and obligations may be affected to make representations to the administering authority before that authority makes the decision affecting that person; and

(Gives the person whose rights may be affected an opportunity to defend himself before the authority that is to administer a sentence takes any decision that would affect such a person’s rights and obligations.)


Section 36 (2) (b)

contains no provision making the determination of the administering authority final and conclusive.

(Has no provisions in the law that makes the decision of the Authority that is to administer a sentence the final decision in the matter)


Section 36 (3)

The proceedings of a court or the proceedings of any tribunal relating to the matters mentioned in subsection (1) of this section (including the announcement of the decisions of the court or tribunal) shall be held in public.

(The proceedings and announcements of decisions of a Court or Tribunal sittings and the decisions of the Court on matters mentioned in Subsection 1 shall be held in public)  


Section 36 (4)

Whenever any person is charged with a criminal offence, he shall, unless the charge is withdrawn, be entitled to a fair hearing in public within a reasonable time by a court or tribunal:

(When any person is charged with a criminal offence, unless the charge is withdrawn, that person has a right to heard fairly in public within a reasonable time in a Court or Tribunal)  


Section 36 (4) (a)

Provided that –

a court or such a tribunal may exclude from its proceedings persons other than the parties thereto or their legal practitioners in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, the welfare of persons who have not attained the age of eighteen years, the protection of the private lives of the parties or to such extent as it may consider necessary by reason of special circumstances in which publicity would be contrary to the interests of justice;

(The Court or Tribunal may prevent other members of the public from being present in the Courtroom in the interest of defence, safety, order, morality, welfare of children under 18 years old, protection of life of the person involved and other special circumstances which publicity would not be in the interest of justice.)


Section 36 (4) (b)

if in any proceedings before a court or such a tribunal, a Minister of the Government of the Federation or a commissioner of the government of a State satisfies the court or tribunal that it would not be in the public interest for any matter to be publicly disclosed, the court or tribunal shall make arrangements for evidence relating to that matter to be heard in private and shall take such other action as may be necessary or expedient to prevent the disclosure of the matter.

(Where matters in a Court or Tribunal, and a Minister of the Federal Government or a Commissioner of a State Government satisfies the Court or Tribunal that the matter should not be held in public due to public interest, the Court or Tribunal shall make arrangements for the matter to be held in private and take other measures to prevent the disclosure of the matter.)


Section 36 (5)

Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty;

(Every person charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proven guilty.)

Provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts.

(This section shall not apply if a law places a burden on the person charged to prove particular facts)


Section 36 (6)

Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to –

(Every person charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to -)


Section 36 (6) (a)

be informed promptly in the language that he understands and in detail of the nature of the offence;

(Informed immediately of the detail and nature of the offence he/she is charged with in a language that he understands)


Section 36 (6) (b)

be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence;

(be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence)


Section 36 (6) (c)

defend himself in person or by legal practitioners of his own choice;

(To defend himself personally or by a lawyer of his choice)


Section 36 (6) (d)

examine, in person or by his legal practitioners, the witnesses called by the prosecution before any court or tribunal and obtain the attendance and carry out the examination of witnesses to testify on his behalf before the court or tribunal on the same conditions as those applying to the witnesses called by the prosecution; and

(To question the prosecution’s witness by himself or through his lawyers, and be able to call his own witnesses to testify on his behalf in the Court on the same conditions as the prosecution’s witnesses and)


Section 36 (6) (e)

have, without payment, the assistance of an interpreter if he cannot understand the language used at the trial of the offence.

(Have an interpreter free of charge if he cannot understand the language used in the trial of the offence.)


Section 36 (7)

When any person is tried for any criminal offence, the court or tribunal shall keep a record of the proceedings and the accused person or any persons authorised by him in that behalf shall be entitled to obtain copies of the judgement in the case within seven days of the conclusion of the case.

(When any person is tried for a criminal offence, the Court or Tribunal shall keep a record of the proceedings and the accused person or anybody authorised by him shall be entitled to collect copies of the judgment of the case within 7 days of the end of the case.)


Section 36 (8)

No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed

(No person shall be guilty of a criminal offence because of an act or omission that was not an offence under the law as at the time that the act or omission was done, and no penalty imposed for a criminal offence shall be heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed.)     


Section 36 (9)

No person who shows that he has been tried by any court of competent jurisdiction or tribunal for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall again be tried for that offence or for a criminal offence having the same ingredients as that offence save upon the order of a superior court.

(No person who shows that he has been tried for a criminal offence by any court of competent jurisdiction and was either convicted or acquitted shall be tried again for that same offence or a criminal offence having the same ingredients as the offence he was tried for except upon the order of a superior court.)


Section 36 (10)

No person who shows that he has been pardoned for a criminal offence shall again be tried for that offence.

(A person who shows that he has been pardoned for a criminal offence shall not be tried for that same offence again.)


Section 36 (11)

No person who is tried for a criminal offence shall be compelled to give evidence at the trial.

(A person who is tried for a criminal offence shall not be compelled to give evidence at the trial.)


Section 36 (12)

Subject as otherwise provided by this Constitution, a person shall not be convicted of a criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty therefore is prescribed in a written law, and in this subsection, a written law refers to an Act of the National Assembly or a Law of a State, any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provisions of a law.

(Unless as otherwise provided by this Constitution, a person shall not convicted of a criminal offence unless that criminal offence and its penalty is defined under a written law. A written law under this subsection means as act of the National Assembly, a law of a State and any subsidiary legislation or instrument under the provisions of a law.

Subsidiary Legislation means an additional or supplemental law usually for an already existing Act/ Statute.)

Section 17 and 18 of the 1999 Constitution

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