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FAIR HEARING BEING SO FUNDAMENTAL MUST BE RAISED IN GOOD FAITH

Dictum

My lords, so fundamental and crucial is the right to fair hearing of the citizen before all Courts of the land that a failure by a Court to observe it in the litigation processes would invariably vitiate both the proceedings and judgment of such a Court, notwithstanding the merit or otherwise of the cases of the parties or indeed how meticulous the proceedings were conducted or even how sound the resultant judgment was on the merit, they are all a nullity. However, it must be pointed out at once that the issue of fair hearing must be raised with all seriousness and in good faith. It must never be raised in bad faith or merely intended as a red herring to raise a storm in a teacup without any factual basis. See Agbogu V. Adiche (2003) 2 NWLR (Pt. 805) 509@ p. 531. See also Agbapuonwu V. Agbapuonwu (1991) 1 NWLR (Pt. 165) 33 @p.40; Adegbesin V. The State (2014) 9 NWLR (pt. 1413) 609 @pp. 641 – 642.

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. UBA v. Ashimina (2018) – CA/L/1033/2014

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COUNSEL MUST SHOW HOW FAIR HEARING WAS BREACHED

A complaint founded on a denial of fair hearing is an invitation to the Court hearing the Appeal to consider whether or not the Court against which the complaint is made, has been generally fair on the basis of equality to all the parties before it. Counsel has not indicated or shown in what circumstances the Appellant was denied fair hearing. It is not enough for Counsel to say that the right to fair hearing was breached in a matter; he must show such by the evidence available and the circumstances of such breach. And the evidence must be that the party was not given an opportunity to state his case which he wanted to state in his own way. As was rightly submitted by learned Counsel for the Respondent, fair hearing is not a technical doctrine, but a rule of substance.

– Sankey JCA. Abdul v. State (2021)

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FAILURE TO GIVE FAIR HEARING DOES NOT AUTOMATICALLY LEAD TO A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

On whether the court below was right when it failed to consider and pronounce upon all the issues submitted to it by the appellant for its determination, I agree with the submission of the appellant’s Counsel that the court below failed to consider and pronounce upon the second issue for determination submitted by the appellant in that court. However, I am unable to hold that the failure to do so led to any miscarriage of justice in the circumstances of the case. There was also no denial of fair hearing as enshrined in Section 33 of 1979 Constitution. Failure to consider and pronounce on all issues submitted to a court or tribunal will not, per se, amount to a denial of a right to fair hearing having regard to the judicial decisions on the principle. In some cases, it may occasion failure of justice which amounts to denial of fair hearing and in others as is the case in the present proceedings, it will not. See Kotoye v Central Bank of Nigeria & others (1989) 1 NWLR (Part 98) 419.

— Ogwuegbu, JSC. Bamaiyi v State (SC 292/2000, Supreme Court, 6th April 2001)

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FAIR HEARING INCLUDES SUFFICIENT TIME GIVEN TO PRESENT DEFENCE

Here is a case where the panel has three months within which to conduct and conclude its investigation of impeachable allegations against appellant but appellant requested for a four days adjournment on health grounds and to enable two of his witnesses attend and testify on his behalf but the panel refused the request, closed the case of appellant and prepared its report which was submitted to the Taraba House of Assembly the next day. The said House proceeded on the same day of receipt of the report to remove appellant from office. In all, the proceedings lasted a period of about six days out of the three months assigned. Why all the rush one may ask. The rush in this case has obviously resulted in a breach of the right to fair hearing of appellant which in turn nullifies the proceedings of the panel. Appellant was, in the circumstances of the case not given sufficient time or opportunity to present his defence to the charges leveled against him.

– Onnoghen, J.S.C. Danladi v. Dangiri (2014)

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NATURE OF AUDI ALTERAM PARTEM

The audi alteram partem rule stipulates that each party must be given an opportunity of stating his case and answering if he can any arguments put forward against it. See Cooper v. Wandsworth Board of Works 14 C.B. (N.S.) 180. The rule requires that a person liable to be directly affected by proposed administrative acts, decisions or proceedings be given adequate notice of what is proposed so as to give him an opportunity to make representations, and effectively prepare his own case and to answer the case he has to meet. It is therefore essential that the person involved be given prior notice of the case against him so that he can prepare to meet that case. – Nnamani, JSC. Garba & Ors. v. The University Of Maiduguri (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt.18) 550

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FAIR HEARING APPLIES TO QUASI JUDICIAL BODIES

It is the very antithesis of justice to agree to the suggestion that a quasi-judicial body like the LPDC should not obey the rules of fair hearing.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Gbenoba v. LPDC (2021)

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ONE CANNOT BE A WITNESS AND A JUDGE AT THE SAME TIME

This submission is incontestible. The Deputy Vice-Chancellor cannot be a witness and a judge all at the same time. The likelihood of bias is a necessary inference from the assumption of the two positions. – Andrews Otutu Obaseki, JSC. Garba & Ors. v. The University Of Maiduguri (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt.18) 550

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