Defendant willingly waives his right to legal representation, and concedes to evidence against him

Deborah Warrie

Deborah Warrie

At the Magistrate Court sitting in Lugbe, Federal Capital Territory Abuja, the case of JOHN CHAWA VS EZKAWA BAMA CV/LUG/39/22, came up for hearing. Interestingly the Defendant to the suit was absent, but the claimant’s lawyer was present and stated to the court, that the defendant who was present at the last sitting gave no reason for his absence  in court, he further requested, that the plaintiff who was in court be allowed to open his case.

The court stated that in view of no substantial reason given by the defense, the plaintiff be allowed to open his case. Thirty Five minutes into the hearing of the suit, the Defendant came to court. The Defendant since the beginning of the suit, opted to represent himself in the suit without a lawyer.  When the Court asked him why he came late, he gave no response.

The Court gave the Defendant an opportunity to look at the documents, sought to be tendered, by the opposing party and the Defendant, after looking at the document with his human logic, stated to the Court that he had no objection to their admissibility. Which invariably made him concede to the evidence of the opposing party, against his own case.

THE DEFENDANT WHO HAD NO LEGAL REPRESENTATIVE BUT DECIDED TO REPRESENT HIMSELF, WAS ALSO GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY TO CROSS EXAMINE THE PLAINTIFF”S SOLE WITNESS AND ASKED ONLY ONE QUESTION, AFTER WHICH HE CLOSED HIS CROSS EXAMINATION.

This waiver by the Defendant has been addressed in the case  AMANCHUKWU v. FRN (2006) LPELR-7637(CA) where it was held thus

“On 4th October, 1990 when the appellant appeared before the lower tribunal, he was informed by the learned trial Judge that he had a right to engage counsel of his choice. That was before the charge was read and explained to him. He informed the tribunal that he had no counsel as he had no money to engage one. He was not inhibited from engaging the service of a counsel of his choice. I cannot see why he should make a mountain out of the fact that he had no legal representation. I am of the considered view that he waived his right to employ the service of a legal practitioner. Waiver is the intentional or voluntary relinquishment of a known right or such conduct and warrants an inference of the abandonment of such a right. See Black’s Law Dictionary, 5th Edn. 1417; Ariori v Elemo (1983) 1 SC, 13. It is clearly wrong for the appellant to attempt to heap the outcome of his own inaction at the doorstep of the lower Tribunal. I cannot see how the appellant’s right to fair hearing was breached. For my above observations and the full reasons adumbrated in the lead judgment, I too agree that the appeal lacks merit and should be dismissed. I order accordingly.” Per JOHN AFOLABI FABIYI, JCA (Pp 18 – 19 Paras E – B)

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