LAW & U: Concept Of Bail

First of all, what is bail? This is a procedure by which a person, arrested or detained in connection with a crime may be released, upon a security being taken for his appearance on a day and place as may be determined by the person or authority effecting the release. In order to secure the release of a suspect who has been arrested from a law enforcement agent’s custody or jail with the understanding that the suspect will return for trial and court appearances, a bail can be requested. Bail can also be said to be a mechanism or money or some form of property that is deposited or that which stands as a pledge to a court.

The concept of bail is an enforcement of fundamental human right in Nigeria has recently taken a centre stage of discussion among jurist and people. In a nutshell, bail is a security of attendance in court from commencement of proceedings to judgment. In determining whether to grant or refuse bail, the determinant factors appear to depend upon the peculiar facts of every case. This takes us to the CONCEPT OF BAIL and its enforcement in Nigeria.

The concept of bail which is the right of a person to have or be granted a bail. This is an adjunct or direct offshoot of the constitutional right to liberty, guaranteed under Section 35 (1) and the right to freedom of movement under Section 38 of the Nigerian Constitution. It is also not unconnected with right to presumption of innocence as well as the fair trial granted by the same Nigerian constitution. Though, the power of court to grant bail is not inherent as such, it has constitutional, as well as statutory foundation. It can be buttressed in, Ikotun Vs FRN & Anor (2015).    Bail generally is of right to a person accused of committing a crime. This is informed by the presumption of innocence that the accused enjoys under the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Over a period of years, most suspects who might not have committed any offence or whose relation had been suspected of committing a crime have found themselves incarcerated in police detention. Sometimes, they can’t press or hold charge, and sometimes this incarceration could take a longer period of time or many years before the actual trial (if any) would be instituted.

The objectives of this topic, is to enlighten Nigerians on their constitutional right to bail, and why every suspected criminals is in compelling right other than bail. Its objective is to expose the unconstitutional practice of holding charge with a view to detaining a suspect.

Bail arises at three (3) stages of the criminal justice which are:

  • The police may release suspect on bail pending further investigation.
  • The court may release an accused person on bail pending the determination of the case against him.
  • The court may release a convicted person on bail pending the determination of his appeal against his conviction.

Bail by police can be buttressed in the Police Act of Nigerian in Section 129 and 27 (b) which provides that bail can be granted by the police pending the investigation of the allegation against the person arrested. When a person is arrested to the police station, the law enjoins the officer in charge of the station to release the suspect on bail pending further investigation into the case or before a charge is preferred against the person in court.  It’s very annoying when some officers of the Nigerian police force insist on collection of money, whereas policing law in Nigeria states that “BAIL IS FREE”. Rather than bail is free, it has been turned to “BAIL FEE”.

Bail by the court can be emphasised in Section 161(1) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act provides for an instance which states:  “a suspect arrested, detained or charged with offence punishable with death shall only be admitted to bail by a judge of the high court, under exceptional circumstances”.


EDITORIAL: A Senate’s Overreach

Apparently angered by what it perceives as the executive’s dilatoriness over the matter of EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu following his non-confirmation, the Senate has literally been threatening fire and brimstone. Last week, it directed the acting President , Yemi Osinbajo to either sack Magu or risk suspension of further confirmation of any nominations into public offices. It also wants the acting President to withdraw the statement credited to him that the Senate does not have the power to confirm certain nominees.

Senator George Sekibo (PDP, Rivers State) capped the resolution with a threat: “…I don’t want to talk about gross misconduct, but the moment you are playing with the constitution and laws, it means you are playing down on Nigerians who make the laws”. To this, the Senate President lend his voice: “These resolutions of the Senate must be acted upon by the acting president; otherwise we will take appropriate action.”

If we are not used to costly tantrums by our parliamentarians, we would have treated the threat of unspecified actions against Osinbajo as one of such jokes meant to douse tension in a troubled polity. For a parliament that has ordinarily lost its value, this latest tantrum is least surprising; for while the resort of threat would be in line with the character of a parliament that has long lost its rationale, that the highest lawmaking body in the country would, like some bunch of school children, consider abdicating its functions to fight their turf wars takes parliamentary activism to a new low.   

To start with, the acting President has done nothing that can be remotely suggestive of breaking the law on the basis of which the parliament could resort to the threat of sanction. Yes, we are mindful of the fact that the Senate has twice rejected Magu’s confirmation; and the acting President was quoted to have argued that heads of agencies like the EFCC do not have to go to the Senate for confirmation – the plank of his argument being that the EFCC Act is inferior to the constitution and that the provisions of Section 171 which mandates certain categories of appointments to be confirmed by the Senate is inapplicable to the office of the EFCC chairman. As far as we can see, the issues as well as the debates that they have spawned are matters of public interest that Nigerians have voiced diverse opinions.  

However, suffice to say that on the first, the Senate, up till now, has not pointed out any law that precludes the President from either re-nominating Magu or any regulation automatically voiding his occupancy of the office on being rejected by the Senate. As for the second, much as the Senate may find that position unsettling, the matter seems to us as one of the constitutional imports that would require the apex court – as against the senators in their chambers – to resolve.

In the circumstance, it seems to us that the Senate will do well to spend quality time on serious issues of governance, against what has become their penchants for endless motions, driven more by ego and nothing else. If they have nothing better to do, the least we expect is that they spare the nation the needless and unhelpful overreach.

Lagos Swears in Three New Judges

Three new Judges have taken oath of office into the Lagos State Judiciary with a charge to maintain a high standard of professional competence and integrity.

The new judges are former Director of the State’s Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Idowu Alakija; former Chief Registrar, High Court of Lagos State, Olugbemiga Ogundare; and former Deputy Registrar of the Court, Serifat Solebo.

Speaking at the Banquet Hall of Lagos House in Ikeja, the state Governor Akinwunmi Ambode said the swearing in of the judges was the first of his administration which signified another milestone in his commitment to enhance the quality of life of the people through a justice administration system that is just and fair.

Governor Ambode explained that “over the years, the State Judiciary, apart from being the busiest and most vibrant in the country, had established a reputation for itself as a trail blazer in the entire federation with intellectual judicial pronouncements that have stood the test of time at appellate courts.”

The Governor added that the niche which the State Judiciary had carved for itself over the years was achieved through various reforms that were initiated and implemented by succeeding leaderships of the State Judiciary in partnership with Executive and Legislature.

He however pledged that “his administration would initiative key reforms in the sector especially in areas of infrastructure, technology, people and processes and improved welfare for the judiciary.”

He said the reforms would be based on the recommendations of the recently held Justice Summit by the State’s Ministry of Justice which brought together several stakeholders in the justice sector.

“I congratulate the newly appointed judges for being adjudged fit and proper persons to be on the respected higher bench of the busiest and most vibrant State judiciary in the country.

“In the end, we hope to bequeath a more vibrant and qualitative judiciary and justice sector fit for the 21st century and beyond. It is also my hope that with the caliber and qualities of these new learned personalities, our bench will be further enriched to effectively discharge its constitutional functions and deliver hope and justice to our people.” Governor added

Appointment Process

Earlier, the State’s Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade thanked Governor Ambode for approving the exercise that led to the appointment of the judges, as well as other stakeholders who contributed in the painstaking appointment process.

The Chief Judge also urged the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Walter Onnoghen to approve the appointment of more judges for Lagos State Judiciary, being the busiest in the country.

According to her “On the average, a judge in Lagos has over 500 to 600 cases in his or her docket. I was talking with the Chief Judge of Ekiti State the other time and I was told that the whole of the Judiciary of the State has just 400 cases. So, I like to renew my call to the CJN to approve more judges for us and I also urge Governor Ambode to approve another appointment process,”

She however urged the newly appointed judges to embrace hard work and dispense justice without fear or favour.

Responding on behalf of the appointees, Justice Alakija thanked Governor Ambode for their appointments, and pledged that they would carry out their duties diligently and abide by the code of conduct.


Bello Sani Is Dead

A member of the green chamber of the National Assembly, and the Honorable member representing Mashi/Dvisi Federal Constituency on the platform of the All Progressives Congress, Mallam Sani Bello has been confirmed dead.

Bello died on Wednesday, February 15 morning. He was 51.

Premium Times quoted Abubakar Adamu, an aide to the late lawmaker, as saying that he had been suffering from an unnamed illness for many months before he finally gave up the ghost

Adamu said Bello’s illness turned worse weeks ago and he was rushed to the Federal Medical Centre in Kaduna but eventually died Wednesday morning.

“He died this morning few minutes after 11:00 and we’re now taking his body to Katsina,” Adamu said.

 Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara confirmed the passing of the lawmaker in a statement in which he also mourned the late politician.

“Our late colleague was humane, principled and a cosmopolitan who interacted freely with all members.

 “Our heartfelt condolences goe to his immediate family, government and people of Katsina State and his colleagues and the government and people of Nigeria.

“We pray God to give all of us the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss,” the Speaker said in the statement issued by his special adviser on media and public affairs Turaki Hassan.

Late Sani is the second lawmaker in the House of Representatives to die in office in a year.

His death comes months after another lawmaker, Adewale Oluwatayo, representing Ifako-Ijaiye constituency in Lagos state died in Abuja.