A fair hearing presupposes first and foremost a hearing. We operate the “Adversary System”. The major feature of this system is the passive and inactive role of the judge in the presentation of cases in court. The judge under our system is at best an attentive listener to all that is said on both sides. He is not an investigator. He speaks mainly to deliver judgments. This passive role of the judge emphasises the active role of counsel for the prosecution and for the defence. What is a “hearing” worth to an accused person who does not understand the language of the court, who does not know the rules of procedure, and who cannot properly present his case The right to counsel is thus at the very root of, and is the necessary foundation for a fair hearing. The ordinary layman, even the intelligent and educated layman is not skilled in the science of law and he therefore needs the aid and advice of counsel. It is because of this need that, in capital offences, attracting the death penalty, the accused is not left undefended. If he cannot afford the services of counsel the State assigns one to him. It is surprising that none was assigned to the appellant in the court of first instance.
— Oputa, JSC. G. Josiah v. The State (1985) – SC.59/1984