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The Unalloyed Right and Opportunity to be Heard

The Unalloyed Right and Opportunity to be Heard

“A hearing can only be fair when all parties to the dispute are given a hearing or an opportunity of hearing. If any party is refused a hearing or denied the opportunity to be heard, the hearing cannot qualify as fair hearing”- Supreme Court Justice Obaseki in the case of Otapo v Sunmonu

The right to a fair hearing is one of the most important fundamental human rights available to any person. It can be argued to be the most important fundamental human right recognizable in most jurisdictions of the world. 

It is basically the right of any/every party in a suit or litigation to be accorded the right and opportunity to be heard and to have the opportunity to respond to every allegation made against him. This right mandates the court to be unbiased and independent and to just act as an umpire in the litigation. This right to fair hearing also extends to the right of an individual to be given a lawyer (free of charge or at the cost of the state), if the individual cannot afford a lawyer, so that the individual will properly be heard in court, especially in a criminal matter. 

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This right is provided for in S. 36 of the constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended). 

It is recognized in the amendment rights of the United States of America and it is The Sixth Amendment right. It is also provided for and fully recognized in the United Nations Declaration on Human and People’s Rights, hence provided for in Article 10 and also provided for in Article 7 of the African Charter. 

These laws (both national, regional and worldwide) are all saying one thing; that every human should have an unalloyed right (to speak) & be heard at any point in time. 

Once your right to speak and to be heard is denied you as a person, you are good as nothing. 

This right is so important that if a person can prove that he was denied the right to speak and be heard in the lower court before judgment was given, such judgment will be annulled and voided in its entirety. But if you slept on this right and failed to exercise it when it was accorded to you and judgment was given, you will not be permitted to appeal for the reversal of the judgment just because you by your own will failed to exercise this right and the judgment given was not in your favor. 

Even in everyday life occurrences, you should always exercise your fundamental human right to speak and say your bit, especially when it comes to defending yourself even if what you said is regarded as nonsense or doesn’t make any sense.

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