After a suspect for an offence is apprehended and taken into police custody, investigations would be commenced against him. If evidence is found linking such an individual with the offence in question, he or she would be charged to court for trial.
During the trial of such accused person, he is entitled to certain rights and under no condition should he be denied of these rights. Some of them include:
1. Right to Silence:
Section 36(11) of the Nigerian Constitution states that no person who is tried for an offence shall be compelled to give evidence at the trial. This right means that it is not compulsory for an accused person to give evidence when he has been charged to court. As a matter of fact, he can decide to remain silent throughout court proceedings.
2. Right to legal representation in capital offences:
Whenever a person has been charged with the commission of a capital offence like murder or treason in which case he might be punished with a death sentence, he shall have the right to a legal representation. According to Section 263 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Laws, where he cannot afford a counsel, it is compulsory for the government to provide him one. Failure to do so would render the entire trial a nullity
3. Right not to be convicted on a retroactive legislation:
Section 36(8) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that a person cannot be charged for an offence which at the time it was committed, such act did not constitute an offence.
4. Right to examine witnesses:
Section 36(6) of the Nigerian Constitution also guarantees an accused person the right to call and examine both his witnesses and that of the prosecution. Failure to avail the accused with this right will render the trial a nullity.
5. Right to pardon:
Section 36(10) of the Nigerian Constitution provides that once an accused person has been granted pardon by the state for an offence, he can no longer be tried for that offence.
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