Lets have a little discussion on a very important principle in law, natural justice.
Summarily, it means fairness. The draftsmen of the 1999 Constitution recognised its importance when they enshrined it in section 36 thereof. Subsection 1 provides in effect that a person, whether in a civil or criminal suit cannot be deprived of his rights unless he is presented before a court or tribunal constituted in such a nature as to ensure its impartiality.
In the legal parlance, the above can be placed under two pillars- audi alterem patem (fair hearing) and nemo judex in causa sua (the rule against bias). While the first refers to giving the parties the opportunity to state their own side of the story, the latter deals with barring a person who has an interest in a matter from presiding over that matter.
In a very often cited case, Garba v. University of Maiduguri, the students went on a riot and amongst other things, burnt the premises of the vice chancellor. The vice chancellor himself presided over the panel that was setup to 'try' the students. See if you can attempt what an appellate court would do if this matter gets to them. Also try and find out the meaning of the word "appellate".
I do hope this lesson has been enlightening. Don't forget to ask questions or make suggestions. 03 September 2010Comment
JP WilliamsTho I'm not a law student, I think the appellate court will quash the panel's decision based on nemo judex in causa sua. I have a question tho, I heard that in the 1999 Nigeria constitution that one cannot sue the president or a governor likewise a president/governors cannot sue someone. But Atiku did that against Obasanjo when he was President and the court entertained the case why? 0003 September 2010
Ebimobowei JikenghanYou are very correct. I'm glad you followed. I'm going to write another article based on the very interesting question you asked. Thank you 0003 September 2010