Section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution
Section 36 of the constitution of Nigeria is about Right to fair hearing of the people of the country. It is under Chapter IV (Fundamental Rights) of the constitution. Section 36 has twelve subsections.
- (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 persons
whose rights and obligations may be affected to
make representations to the administering
authority before that authority makes the decision
affecting that person; and
(b) contains no provision making the
determination of the administering authority final
(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charge is withdrawn, be entitled to a fair hearing in public within a reasonable time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:
Provided that –
(a) a court or such a tribunal may exclude from
its proceedings persons other than the parties
thereto or their legal practitioners in the interest
of defence, public safety, public order, public
morality, the welfare of persons who have not
attained the age of eighteen years, the protection
of the private lives of the parties or to such extent
as it may consider necessary by reason of special
circumstances in which publicity would be
contrary to the interests of justice;
(b) if in any proceedings before a court or such a
tribunal, a Minister of the Government of the
Federation or a commissioner of the government
of a State satisfies the court or tribunal that it
would not be in the public interest for any matter
to be publicly disclosed, the court or tribunal
shall make arrangements for evidence relating to
that matter to be heard in private and shall take
such other action as may be necessary or
expedient to prevent the disclosure of the matter.
(5) Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be
innocent until he is proved guilty;
Provided that nothing in this section shall invalidate any law by reason only that the
law imposes upon any such person the burden of proving particular facts.
(6) Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to –
(a) be informed promptly in the language that he
understands and in detail of the nature of the
(b) be given adequate time and facilities for the
preparation of his defence;
(c) defend himself in person or by legal
practitioners of his own choice;
(d) examine, in person or by his legal
practitioners, the witnesses called by the
prosecution before any court or tribunal and
obtain the attendance and carry out the
examination of witnesses to testify on his behalf
before the court or tribunal on the same
conditions as those applying to the witnesses
called by the prosecution; and
(e) have, without payment, the assistance of an
interpreter if he cannot understand the language
used at the trial of the offence.
(7) When any person is tried for any criminal offence, the court or tribunal shall keep
a record of the proceedings and the accused person or any persons authorised by him
in that behalf shall be entitled to obtain copies of the judgement in the case within
seven days of the conclusion of the case.
(8) No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or
omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no
penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at
the time the offence was committed
(9) No person who shows that he has been tried by any court of competent
jurisdiction or tribunal for a criminal offence and either convicted or acquitted shall
again be tried for that offence or for a criminal offence having the same ingredients as
that offence save upon the order of a superior court.
(10) No person who shows that he has been pardoned for a criminal offence shall again be tried for that offence.
(11) No person who is tried for a criminal offence shall be compelled to give
evidence at the trial.
(12) Subject as otherwise provided by this Constitution, a person shall not be
convicted of a criminal offence unless that offence is defined and the penalty therefor
is prescribed in a written law, and in this subsection, a written law refers to an Act of
the National Assembly or a Law of a State, any subsidiary legislation or instrument
under the provisions of a law.
Inioluwa Olaposi is a Law student at Obafemi Awolowo Universities, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. Before LawHub NG, he started publishing law-related posts on his former multi-niche website.