........Says ingredients of fairness absent in Nnamdi Kanu's trial
“Following the prosecution of the detained leader of the proscribed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB) Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, a warning has been sounded to the Youths of South East of Nigeria not to take the bait of reactionary forces working to instigate social unrest in the South East”.
Civil Rights Advocacy Group:- HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) has alleged that the simple agendum of the federal ministry of justice in to ‘deliberately weave around strange charges and wage internecine media Campaign of calumny against Nnamdi Kanu to pollute the process and deny the defendant his constitutionally guaranteed fair hearing.‘
“HURIWA therefore condemned the continuous detention of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu and the slow wheel of Justice that has been deliberately calibrated by the officials of the ministry of justice in a bid to deny the defendant of justice, fairness and transparency.
“This cocktail of contrived trial is essentially meant to provoke the Igbo youths so as to set the South East of Nigeria on fire just as the Rights group has appealed to the teeming supporters of Nnamdi Kanu to resist the generous and overwhelming temptation to destroy their homestead which is the dream of those who planned and executed his arrest and illegal detention.
“We appeal to the young people of South East of Nigeria to resist the temptation to be used as canon fodders for the planned destabilization of the South East of Nigeria. We urge members and supporters of the detained leader of IPOB to think deeply and work out other strategies on how to press on for the speedy release of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu.
“The straight jacket strategy of ordering traders to sit at home is stiffling economic development and it is apparent that those prosecutors in the Federal Ministry of Justice are under some kinds of Clandestine Machinations to continue and escalate the orchestration of civil unrest using delay tactics in the trial of Nnamdi Kanu by every possible illegal means”.
“We are of the considered opinion that the purpose of clearly denying Mazi Nnamdi Kanu of any sort of constitutional protection and his treatment like someone that has already been convicted by the sheer display of military arrogance and the consistent inhibition of free movements of persons and vehicles in the central business district during the pendency of the trial at the Federal High Court Abuja is just to continue to stoke the embers of hatred and to try to instigate Civil unrests in the South East of Nigeria with the concomitant expectation that these crises will degenerate and result in the total annihilation of the economy and political stability of the South East of Nigeria.
“The gameplan of reactionary forces embedded within the office of the Federal Attorney General is to deploy subterfuge and manipulation to try to stoke up Bitterness and agony amongst the supporters and loyalists of Mazi Nnamdi Kanu with the overall goal of precipitating civil UPHEAVALS IN the Igbo speaking South East of Nigeria”.
“The truth is that constitutionally in Nigeria the right to fair hearing is guaranteed under section 36 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It provides as follows:
(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.
(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-
(a)provides for an opportunity for the person whose rights and obligations may be affected to make representations to the administering authority before that authority makes the decision affecting that person;
(b)contains no provision making the determination of the administering authority final and conclusive.
(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.
(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.”
“We affirm that the Supreme Court in interpreting this provision viewed it as a compression of the plenitude of natural justice in the special technical context of the ancient twin pillars of justice — audi alteram partem, and nemo judex in causa sua. This is also based on the wide understanding of what is both equally right and fair to all affected parties.
THE INGREDIENTS ON FAIR HEARING
In the case of Baba v Civil Aviation the apex court expatiated on the ingredients that make up this hallowed concept, viz. a party’s right of presence during the proceedings and to hear all the evidence against him, to cross-examine or otherwise confront or contradict all the witnesses who testified against him; to have read before him all the documents tendered in evidence; to be acquainted with the nature of all material documentary or real evidence prejudicial to him; to be apprised of the case against him and be afforded opportunity to prepare his defence; and to present his defence personally or through his chosen Counsel.
“The simplest connotation of these requirements is that the party be given unhindered opportunity to present his case before a court, tribunal, or body that will dispassionately determine his right. In this vein the Court of Appeal has held that an ad hoc panel set up by the Chief Registrar of a High Court to investigate allegations made against a person may not necessarily follow procedures and practice of a regular court of law, but it has to observe and apply the principles of natural justice as anybody adversely affected by its decision has the right to claim adequate opportunity to know and answer the case against him.
“Essentially, therefore, the dispensation of the right to fair hearing can be demonstrated when the court is not determining its own case directly or indirectly, and the parties are given equal opportunity to present their cases. From the numerous authorities the purport of this rule is to secure the independence and partiality of the ‘court’ as to enable it perform its functions justly. It is also on this ground that every exercise of judicial or quasi-judicial authority is tested on this parameter to ascertain its validity.”
“HURIWA is once more demanding that Mazi Nnamdi Kanu be accorded all his Constitutionally guaranteed rights to fairness, total justice, equity and equality before the law.