All I need to know when I am facing trial-Tribunal-Administrative Panel

If you or any relative is facing Administrative panel, Tribunal or court trial, you need to take note of the following:

Publicity of Trial

Publicity of trial here means trial in a place where the public has unimpeded access. In such trial, open court shall be where the trial will take place not Judges chambers most especially where members of the public are not excluded from the trial.[1]

Presumption of innocence

Every person charged before a court of law for any offence shall be presumed innocent until his guilt is established in court. To do otherwise is to ask the accused to establish his innocence.[2]

Information of crime committed

The accused shall be informed promptly in the language he understands and in details of the nature of the offence. This is in addition to the provisions of Section 35 (3) dealing with arrest and detention. Note that failure to inform the accused of the nature and/or details of an offence lesser in nature than the one charged is not fatal if the accused has been informed of the graver offence.[3]

Adequate Time and facility to prepare for defence

An accused person has right to adequate time and facilities for the preparation of defence. The time being referred to in this subject matter relates not only to the first day to which his case is slated for the defence but also includes any other reasonable adjournment that may be sought by the defence.[4]

Note: the court may not tolerate unreasonable requests for adjournment.[5]

Where adjournment is sought to procure attendance of a witness, the accused must show:

  1. That the witness is material
  2. That he has not been guilty of neglect in procuring him
  • That he can procure his attendance for a certain date.

Note: “facilities” as used in the sub-section includes making available to the accused the proof of evidence including witness statements in the case.


Right to Counsel of his own choice or defend himself

This right is simply means that a person cannot be denied a right to a counsel/lawyer of his choice neither can a counsel/lawyer be imposed on him if he chooses to defend himself. [6]


Examination of Prosecution Witnesses and present his witness

The accused has a right not only to call and examine his witnesses but also to cross-examine the witnesses called by the prosecution. This is a mandatory provision in the constitution.[7] Any contrary position will fail.


Right to Interpreter

An accused person has right to be informed promptly and in a language he understands, and in detail, the nature of the offence for which he is to be charged. Failure to provide one where one is required is fatal to the proceedings and any decision reach against you will fail.[8]

Where one is provided and found to be incompetent, any conviction based on it is liable to be quashed[9].

The provision of interpreter should be at no cost to the accused.

However, where the accused fails to inform the court of his defect in the language of the court, the trial will stand as the failure will be treated as a mere irregularity[10].


Right to silence

This right is both constitutional and statutory.[11]

NOTE: In addition to these various constitutional provisions, there is statutory provision for Mandatory Legal Representation in capital offences.


[1] S. 36 (4) of the 1999 Constitution

[2] Eyu Vs. The State (1988) 2 NWLR (pt. 78) 602. Okoro Vs The State (1988) 12 SCNJ 19. Uso Vs COP (1972) 11 SC 37. See the exceptions  in SS. 141 (3)(b) & 142  of the Evidence Act. See the proviso to S. 36 (5) CFRN.

[3] Sections 36(6)(a), 179 (2) CPA; 218 (2) CPC; Maja Vs. The State (1980) 1 NCR 212, Nwachukwu Vs The State (1986) 4 SC 378.

[4] See Section 36 (6)(b) of the 1999 Constitution, Udo Vs The State (1988) 3 NWLR (pt. 82) 316. See also Gokpa Vs. IGP (1961) 1 All NLR 423

[5] See   Yanor Vs The State (1965) 1 All NLR 193; Shemfe Vs. COP (1962) NNLR 87.

[6] S 36 (6)(C) of the 1999 Constitution

[7] See Section 36 (6)(d) of the 1999 Constitution, Tulu Vs Bauchi N.A (1965) NMLR 343; Idrisu Vs. The State (1967) 1 All NLR 32.

[8] See Section 36 (6)(e) of the 1999 Constitution, Anyanwu Vs The State (2002) 13 NWLR (pt. 783) 107.

[9] Ajayi Vs Zaria N.A.(1964) NNLR 61.

[10] Udosen Vs. The State (2007) All FWLR (pt. 356) 669. See also The State Vs Gwonto (1983) 3 SC.67

[11] See– Sections. 36 (11) of the 1999 Constitution, 160 (a) of Evidence Act; 287 (1)(a) CPA; 236 (1)(a) CPC. See also Sugh Vs The State (1988) 2 NWLR (pt. 77) 475.