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Sunday, November 27, 2022

Is bail free?

By Abimbola Akindunbi & Kayode Olabanji
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The Nigerian Police re-launched the ‘Bail is Free Campaign’ last year in all the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory, FCT.

To ensure compliance with the order, the Inspector General of Police gave orders to all Assistant Inspectors General of Police and State Commissioners of Police to make sure that bail is free and for a sign/inscription be written on the wall in the crime branch, statement room or charge room in all police divisions.

The Hope Classics went to town to ask some stakeholders, the question: “Is bail actually free.”

Excerpts.

Nigerian Police Complaint Response Unit has stated that bail is free in Nigeria, negating the widely held belief that people are obligated to pay before they are released on bail, but the question is; is bail free in Nigeria?.

Managing corruption is one of the major goals of this government. And so far so good, corruption is slowly on a decline. But the government is ignoring the grassroots level in the corruption fight and a good example is this issue of bail.

The command has always made the announcement to the general public that bail is free. From time immemorial, since the police has been established, bail has been free.

We have always re-echoed this that bail is free statutorily and right from the days that police was even established, bail has been free. We would want to say again here without mincing words that “bail is free”.

People could say that whenever they got to police stations, they are asked to pay. What you need to do on bail is to stand in for somebody. That is the misunderstanding which is known as surety. The person would have to forfeit a bond to assure that the person would not run away. And this is forfeited to either the federal or state government and not to the police.

“But, unfortunately these days, people even contribute to this mess of saying police demand; whereas they are the first persons to start asking police how much they want to collect. If they want to bail or detain someone, it takes two to tango. If you know your right and you stand by it, no one can take you for a fool. You must put your feet on the ground if anyone asks you to pay for bail. You have the right to ask what you are paying for. If any policeman demands money for bail, be bold enough to look at him or her in the face and say it is free.

The people have our phone numbers. The phone number of the Commissioner of Police is displayed on the wall of every police station. If you do not see it, you may ask.

 I am very sure no police officer would want to decline the decree of the Commissioner that bail is free.

The world has gone digital now that so many are always online. Recently, when a policeman on duty got himself drunk, it was the members of the public who snapped him. And before you know it, the video went viral. And you saw what happened to the police officer that he was immediately dismissed from the police force.

These things that some policemen do by demanding money for bail cannot be handled by those in high ranking alone, since the senior officers of the public can help to sanitise the system by reporting any policeman found demanding money.

When you report those who have taken the bull by the horn, you need to have the boldness to report any situation that will stratify to the level of discipline.

Mr Adekola Adejorin,

a School Proprietor

I think the government on its part should ensure that the citizens are well educated on their right. Once that is done, there will be an uproar and revolt to payment of bail.

The fact is that the populace has to know what bail is. Bail in the Nigerian constitution which every citizen ought to know is the process whereby a person accused or being charged for the commission of an offence, is being released by the constituted authority  detained. Bail is granted on the condition that the accused will appear or report to a police station or court or other identified location in future whenever his presence is required or so ordered.

  It is a pity that an average educated Nigerian does not know the law and does not care to know. I went out of my way to study Law to enable me  stand upright in the society. All they want is the easy way out. The general public should understand that with the Police or administratively, when someone is suspected of a crime and the police or government agencies investigating the crime are yet to obtain enough evidence to charge the suspect to court, “The Nigeria 1999 constitution provides that the accused person who has been arrested on the said allegation must be charged to court within 24 hours, where a court of proximate jurisdiction is located within the radius of forty kilometers from the police station.

The accused person must be charged to court within 48 hours.

He further explained that it is therefore illegal and unconstitutional for a suspect to be detained for more than 48hours by the police without bail or without charging them to court. This law does not just affect the police, but other government agencies like EFCC, ICPC and NDLEA.

Court bail is granted by the court of law. It can be granted under two scenarios.

Bail, pending appeal is where the person has been found guilty and he/she intends to appeal the conviction. This type is generally more difficult to obtain because the presumption of innocence is no longer there.

While bail conditions are the conditions which are set to ensure that the accused person presents him/herself to the authorities when his/her presence is required.

The conditions are to appear in court at a certain date, living at a particular address. Not contacting certain people. Sometimes, even house arrest.

Giving his/her passport to the police or other law enforcement agency.

The fact is that once a citizen knows these basics, it will be hard for the police to extort them in that manner.

I think a unit should be created or formed to serve as a watch dog to this corrupt practice. That unit will create a deterrent to the extortion practices of the Police officer.

Ho.jpgMr Bamiduro Emmanuel esq.

An Akure-based legal practitioner

Bail is free in court, but coming up with the conditions attached to it might cost you money. Whether you spend money in a bid to meet up with the bail conditions or not, it is still adjudged that bail is free.

Bail is a process whereby a person who is accused of an offence is released by constituted authority. It may be by the or law enforcement agents.

But we need to understand that there are types of bail, we have police or administrative bail and the court bail.

In the administrative bail, once a person is arrested by the law enforcement agents, such a person having been investigated or interrogated. Such a person is expected to be bailed. And if it is an offence that needs to go further, that person is expected to be brought before a court.

The provision of law and the constitution is clear in this regard; that the accused should be in court within 24 hours of arrest or maximum of 48 hours, if runs into the weekend. We need to understand that an accused person is presumed innocent, until the contrary is proved.

At the level of police, there are some officers who use opportunity of bail to extort money from the family of an accused person, because nobody wants his or her relations to be in the custody of police. So, they are always looking for a way to release their people from the police custody. By doing this, you are exposing yourself to unscrupulous officers. They will demand for money when they know that you want your relation to be released by all means.

But in the court, the essence of bail is to give the accused person freedom pending the trial and judgement. And it is also to make sure he always appears before the court for trial to defend himself, with other conditions attached to it. You can only spend money in the process of getting a surety, mobilizing the police to verify the address of the surety, both office and residential.

 

Hope Classi.jpgMr Akintayo Ogunsakin

An Akure-based legal practitioner

There are two types of bail; bail pending trial and bail pending appeal. Bail is supposed to be free. The general rule is that a person who has not been tried and convicted by a competent court for an offence known in law is entitled to be admitted into bail.

 As a matter of course, bail is a right of an accused person without monetary gain attached. Police officers are not supposed to collect money from an accused before admission to bail.

It is an aberration for police to collect money before admitting an accused to bail.

The moment you make an entry into any police station in Nigeria, you will be welcomed with the bold inscription on the wall, “Bail is free”. This is a law that has never been respected or upheld by the general public.

 

Hope.jpgMr Tosin Eye,

an Akure-based legal practitioner

Bail, when relating it to court is very different from the law enforcement agency which on their own side is not totally free. But in court, it is free, it is a temporary freedom granted by court of competent Jurisdiction to a defendant who is facing a criminal charge, before the court pending the determination, (convictions or otherwise acquitter) of the defendant.

According to Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution, “every person charged with criminal offence should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The implication is when someone is facing a criminal charge before the court, and to make sure such person appears for trial, that is when the issue of bail comes in. That, let this man go while he is facing criminal trial. Let him not be under detention, whether detention by the medium security prison or detention at any of the law enforcement agency.

The court grants such bail pending the final determination. They would have heard all parties involved in the case (prosecution and the defendant).

When we look at the whole consent of bail, there is a bail we refer to as a bail by self recognition, which you hardly see. It is not common, but it happened. Like the case of “Senate President Bukola Saraki”. When he was charged before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), he was granted bail on self recognition, meaning that he is a reputable person in the society. The court believes that he cannot run away as a Senate President.

Not only to a Senate President, but as long as the person is well known or a reputable person in the society, and the system believes (The administrative of criminal Justice) which depends on the judge or the magistrate to determine that such a person is well reputable. It is the job of the defence counsel to tell the court about the person. Court will look at the surrounding circumstances to show whether or not, the person is well known, before it grant bail by self recognition with conditions attached to it or without condition, even the condition cannot go beyond deposition of his international passport.

According to Provisions of Section 146 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law(ACL) up to about 170, you get to understand the definition of bail, conditions for bail, how to enter a recognizance for bail and how a surety makes recognizance, everything is stipulated there. In the section, the court has the power to grant bail on conditions which may due fit.

What are the conditions? The court can say the defendant should bring a responsible, reasonable and credible surety, to the satisfaction of the court. where someone will now stand for the defendant, the court can as well say the defendant should bring a surety that will enter a recognizance.

Recognizance, simply mean a particular document. It is called a Bail-bond, both in High Court and Magistrate Court, usually prepared by the lawyer. The court can give a particular sum, like granting bail in the sum of two millions, fifty millions, it’s depend on what the court feel. It is usually at the discretion of the court.

The whole essence of bail is to make sure the defendant always appear in court for trial in order not to keep the defendant in detention pending determination or guilt.

Whosoever stands as a surety, will sign that he is standing as a surety. Of most important, is the affidavit of bond where the surety will declares that he or she is having a bank account worth that sum. Not that the court wants to collect the money, but it is to be sure that the person standing as a surety worths that sum.

If at the end of the day this person (defendant) is not found to stand for trial, definitely the surety will forfeit the bond sum. For instance, the case of Abarege, when he stood for Nnamdi Kanu. Whether Nnamdi Kanu ran away or disappeared, nobody knows. But the fact remains that he, Abarege, stood as surety before the court. The next thing, the court called on the surety to ask about Nnamdi Kanu or to forfeit that bond sum, that is, you enter a condition of bail on a recognizance of sitting sum.

The second type of condition is recognizance of bond sum and payment of money into the court account. The court can say go and enter a recognizance of 50million Naira sum, like the former government of Ekiti, what he need is to fulfill all requirements. Unless when the court specifically say, deposit 5million in the court account. All those things are at the discretion of the court to ensure the person stand for trial.

There is this presumption that when you used money to hold someone, there is possibility that the person will not allow the defendant to run away, because the surety knows that everything will come back on him. Sometime, the court can ask for Certificate of Occupancy (CofO), of the surety to enter recognizance. But as regards the defendant, the highest the court can ask is to deposit his International passport, especially when the person is a flight risk.

People should understand that unlike the law enforcement agencies where bail is not actually free,  it is free in court. Nobody collects money from defendant (s).

In summary, bail is the conditional release of a defendant with the promise to appear in court when  required.

The Hope Owena Press
The Hope Owena Presshttp://www.thehopenewspaper.com
Owena Press Limited (Publisher of The Hope Newspaper), Akure

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