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THE FAIR HEARING OF A PERSON CANNOT BE WAIVED BY ANOTHER

Dictum

I cannot agree with the view of the learned Respondent’s counsel that the Appellant’s counsel compromised the right of the Appellant and thus the Appellant cannot complain. The right to fair hearing cannot be waived or compromised as it is not donated but inherent for the person involved.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Junaidu v. State (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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FAIR HEARING IS TRIAL ACCORDING TO ALL LEGAL RULES

The law is indeed well settled that fair hearing within the meaning of Section 36(1) of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), means a trial or hearing conducted according to all legal rules formulated to ensure that justice is done to the parties. It requires the observation or observance of the twin pillars of the rules of natural justice, namely audi alterem partem and nemo judex in causa sua. These rules, the obligation to hear the other side of a dispute or the right of a party in dispute to be heard, is so basic and fundamental a principle of our adjudicatory system in the determination of disputes that it cannot be compromised on any ground. See Per PETER-ODILI, JSC in EYE v. FRN (2018) LPELR-43599(SC) (P. 28-30, PARA. A).

— U.M. Abba Aji, JSC. State v. Andrew Yanga (SC.712/2018, 15 Jan 2021)

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THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD CONNOTES AN OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE REPRESENTATION

Para. 53: “The Court recognizes the principles of Audi alteram partem (hear the other side) which requires that persons affected by an adverse position must be given an opportunity to make representation. The right to be heard by its own nature connotes an opportunity to be heard within a reasonable time by an impartial court or Tribunal. This right is not limited to a one on one verbal representation but encompasses every avenue accorded to a party to be heard in a matter. This Court 18 reiterated the principle that parties must be given an opportunity to be heard in any matter affecting their interest in the following words: “the right to fair hearing is a human right derived from the concept of fair hearing, in this regard, a fair trial is not only seen as an additional instrument for protection of the rights of defence largo sensu…..” See MOHAMMED TAYYIB BAH V. REP OF SIERRA LEONE JUD NO: ECW/CCJ/JUD/11/15, (Unreported) in its consideration relied on the case of Ugokwe v. Okeke (2008), CCJELR pg. 149@ 146.”

— Uuter Dery v Republic of Ghana (2019) – ECW/CCJ/JUD/17/19

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DENIAL OF FAIR HEARING RENDERS PROCEEDINGS NULL & VOID

There is a plethora of authorities of this Court on the effect of a breach of the right to fair hearing. It is fundamental. It is a breach of one of the twin pillars of natural justice, “audi alteram partem,” meaning, “let the other side be heard”, the other being “nemo judex in causa sua” meaning “a person should not be a judge in his own cause.” A denial of fair hearing renders the affected proceedings and any order, ruling or judgment therein, null and void. See: Adigun Vs A.G. Oyo State (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt. 53) 678; Salu Vs Egeibon (1994) 6 NWLR (Pt. 348) 23 @ 44; Bamgboye Vs Unilorin (1999) 10 NWLR (Pt. 622) 290 @ 333; NUT, Taraba State & Ors Vs Habu & Ors (2018) LPELR – 44057 (SC) @ 13 – 14 D – A; Zenith Plastics Industries Ltd. Vs Samotech Ltd. (2018) LPELR 44056(SC) @ 13 – 14 D – F.

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun JSC. Umeano v. Anaekwe (SC.323/2008, Friday January 28 2022)

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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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ONE MUST BE GIVEN THE CHANCE TO EXCULPATE HIMSELF

It is my considered view that after the Disciplinary Investigation Panel had completed its investigation, each of such students against who disciplinary action was contemplated must be informed of the available evidence against him and in addition given reasonable opportunity of exculpating himself. It is essential that in the exercise, the Vice Chancellor must observe the principles of impartiality and fairness. – Coker, J.S.C. Garba & Ors. v. The University Of Maiduguri (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt.18) 550

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