Police bail is where a suspect is released without being charged but must return to the police station at a given time.
When a person is arrested and detained by the Police for allegedly committing a crime. The constitution provides that such a suspect must be taken to court within 24 hours if there is a Court within 40km radius. Where there is no court within such distance the person shall be taken to court within 48 hours of arrest or such longer period as in the circumstances may be considered by the court to be reasonable: S.35(5)(a) &(b) CFRN.
However where investigation cannot be completed within such period, a court may order the person to be detained for a longer period.
We have different kinds of offences, some are bailable such as simple offences and misdemeanors while police cannot accept bail in capital offences such as armed robbery, kidnapping, murder etc. If the crime is not a capital offence, the officer in charge of the police station or place of detention may admit the accused to bail on such terms and conditions as may be appropriate, pending investigation.
TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF POLICE BAIL
It must be entered upon recognisance with or without surety. The term of bail will be dependent on the kind of offence allegedly committed. Bail does not mean the accused person is free completely, neither does it mean the state will not press charges against the accused person.
The essence of police bail is to ensure that the accused enjoys liberty while ensuring that he is available.
Where there is a significant flight risk or very likelihood of the accused jumping bail, the police is less inclined to grant bail.
Bail is not generally monetary; may require you to execute a bond and other conditions.
It is wise to note that before you stand as surety for an accused, you must be sure that the accused person will not jump bail. Where the accused does not show up for trial, the surety usually bears the consequences. Do not stand as surety for someone you do not really know.
PROCEDURE FOR POLICE BAIL.
Bail may be granted upon an application by the suspect or his counsel
1.Application by counsel is made on the letter head of chambers or by relatives and friends of suspect.
2.The application is addressed to the DPO, COP, AIG, IG as the case may be or any other senior officer who has the power to grant bail.
3.At the state level, the application may also be addressed to the ACP (Assistant Commissioner of Police) in charge of CID (Criminal Investigation Department) if the COP permits.
4. The application letter should state those who will stand as surety for the suspect and who sureties to provide him should the need arises.
5. Police reviews the letter and grants bail. The law is that bail is free.
Remedies available to a detainee who is refused or denied police bail
WHAT TO DO WHEN POLICE REFUSES BAIL.
NB.This step will require the services of a lawyer.
1) Application for enforcement of fundamental rights:
Fundamental Rights refer to any of the rights provided for in CHAPTER IV CFRN and includes any of the rights stipulated in the African Charter on Human and Peoples Right (Ratification and Enforcement) Act.
ORDER 1 RULE 2 of Fundamental Rights (Enforcement Procedure) Rules 2009
The rules set out the practice and procedure for the litigation, regulation and prosecution of all matters relating to the enforcements of fundamental rights of citizens by the courts, pursuant to the provisions of chapter IV of the constitution. In pursuance of the foregoing statutory enactments for the protection and enforcement of rights of an aggrieved person, such person has the following legitimate and constitutional guaranteed remedies, whenever the rights are violated.
a.An order of leave to enforce his rights
b.An order of declaration
c.An order of mandamus
d.An order of injunction
e.Award of damages
f.An order of release or habeas corpus
g.An order of certiorari and prohibition
Another option available to an action person who has been refused bail by the Police is to approach a Court to grant him bail.
WHO CAN INSTITUTE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS PROCEEDINGS UNDER THE 2009 RULES
a. Anyone acting in his own interest;
b. Anyone acting on behalf of another person;
c.Anyone acting as a member of, or in the interest of a group or class of persons;
d. Anyone acting in the public interest: Public interest INCLUDES Interest of Nigerian society; and Interest of any segment of it
e. Association acting in the interest of its members or other individually
2) Habeas corpus proceedings: Writ of HABEAS CORPUS
This is a Latin word, which means “that you have the body”. This remedy is to secure the release or liberty of the subject, whose right to personal liberty has been lawfully infringed on, and which is better explained by the more elaborate Latin expression habeas corpus ad subjiciendum meaning a writ directed to the person detaining another, and commanding him to produce the body of the prisoner, or person detained. Release from unlawful imprisonment (bring the body) e.g. know they have taken the person away but not sure where he is being imprisoned.
Habeas corpus proceedings are usually governed by State Laws and an application herein is made ex-parte accompanied by a deposition on oath, stating the facts and circumstances of the wrongful detention, necessitating the filing of the application. It is a very potent weapon for restoration of abridged and deprived fundamental rights of detainees.
In Dele Giwa v. Inspector General of Police(Unreported Suit No FHC/12C/83, cited in Gani Fawehinmi (1989), Nigerian Press under the Constitution and the Criminal Laws, Nigerian Law Publications Ltd., p. C479) the court awarded monetary compensation to the applicant who had been illegally detained by the police and a public apology was also offered to the applicant. In the Court of Appeal’s decision in Adeyemi Candide-Johnson v. Mrs Esther Edigin (1991) 1 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 129) 659.
the propriety of monetary compensation in fundamental rights violation cases was confirmed; also in Minister of Internal Affairs v. Shugaba(1982) 3 N.C.L.R. 915 at 928, the Supreme Court stated as follows: ‘…in cases involving an infraction of fundamental rights of a citizen, the court ought to award such damages as would serve as a deterrent against naked, arrogant, arbitrary and oppressive abuse of power…However, such award must not be excessive.’
3) In Lagos State and CPCL he may apply to a magistrate CT for an order for his production in CT (s77(2) CPCL). Note if suspect does not fulfil conditions of bail, he cannot just run to court to grant bail as police will state that bail has been granted upon certain provisions.