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IN OUR COUNTRY, COURTS SHOULD BE CAUTIOUS IN REMANDING ACCUSED

Dictum

In a country such as ours where there is so much inter-ethnic animosity and hatred, the court ought to be cautious in remanding accused persons in custody unless there is some substantial evidence in support of allegations of crime against them because it is so easy for an enemy to make a false allegation of murder or robbery against a citizen to keep him out of circulation.

— J.O. Ogebe JCA. Vincent Ogueri v. The State (12th July 2000)

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APPLICATION TO FORFEIT BAIL BOND MUST BE PROVED

✓ In Ahmadu Tea v. Commissioner of Police (1963) NWLR 77 the appellant was a surety person in a magistrate’s Court. The accused did not attend to stand trial. The recognizance was forfeited and the magistrate there upon ordered the surety to pay a penalty or be imprisoned for six months, On appeal, the appellate Court held inter alia that before a bail bond is forfeited by the trial Court; the bail bond and the facts causing the forfeiture must be proved. The surety must also be given a fair hearing.

✓ In Lamidi Abudu in Re A. K. Kotun v. Inspector General of Police (1961) LLR 83 the accused person absconded and the Court forfeited the bail bond without hearing the appellant who was the surety. On appeal, it was held that forfeiture of the bail bond without hearing the surety was premature and the ground for forfeiture was not proved.

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AN ACCUSED PERSON PRESUMED GUILTY SHOULD NOT BE UNNECESSARILY REMANDED IN CUSTODY

An accused person is not in jurisprudence a person presumed guilty but is given the benefit of being innocent until the contrary is proved. This pre-supposes that he is not to be bounded or be punished or remanded in custody for an unnecessarily long time without a reasonable cause to defeat the course of justice. In other words, he has to be treated humanely and given all the constitutional rights that are allowed to a citizen.

— Pats-Acholonu JCA. Vincent Ogueri v. The State (12th July 2000)

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MURDER AND BAIL; IT MAY NOT BE PROPER TO KEEP ACCUSED IN CUSTODY JUST BECAUSE MURDER IS ALLEGED AGAINST HIM

In the case of Christian Diogu v. The Commissioner of Police (2000) 1 K.L.R. (Pt. 94) 195 the appellant was charged for conspiracy and murder before the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Onitsha. The Chief Magistrate remanded the appellant in custody. He applied to the High Court for a bail. The High Court dismissed his application on the ground that it would not be in public interest to admit the applicant to bail. The applicant then appealed to the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division. The Court of Appeal in granting bail was of the view that it would be dangerous to merely arrest citizens of this country on allegation of murder without substantial facts in support and keep them in custody merely because they are being accused of murder. From the facts of that case the prosecution did not even provide the court with proof of evidence to show that there was a prima facie case of murder against the appellant.

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MATTERS TO BE CONSIDERED BEFORE BAIL IS GRANTED NEED NOT BE NECESSARILY ADMISSIBLE DURING TRIAL

There are paragraphs 10, 11, 18, 19 and 20 which also tend to implicate the appellant as to the procurement of weapons used for committing some of the crimes, the foreboding in the sudden killing in suspicious circumstances of the armourer who was a vital witness, and how proposed witnesses are now afraid of their safety. These are not matters that should be glossed over. Some of them may not be admissible as evidence in the main trial but they are certainly worthy to be taken into account in an application for bail pending trial. That does not necessarily prejudice the presumed innocence of the appellant of the charge brought against him until the contrary is proved, but it at least tries to ensure avoidable interruptions of the trial.

— Uwaifo, JSC. Bamaiyi v State (SC 292/2000, Supreme Court, 6th April 2001)

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WHEN APPELLATE COURT WILL NOT INTERFERE WITH TRIAL COURT’S DISCRETION NOT TO GRANT BAIL

By the judicial interpretation of the provisions of Sections 340 and 341 of the Criminal Procedure Code, it appears settled law that the power to grant or not to grant bail is entirely at the discretion of the Judge, and when a judge is considering whether to release an applicant to bail pending trial, the following are paramount, viz:- a) The nature of the charge; b) The evidence by which it is supported; c) The sentence which by law may be passed in the event of a conviction and; d) The probability that the accused will appear to take his trial. Where these are weighty, an Appellate Court will not interfere with exercise of discretion by the trial Court not to grant bail, see MAMUPA DANTATA VS IGP (1958) NNLR 3, see BAMAIYI VS THE STATE (2001) 8 NWLR (PT.715) 270, DOKUBO ASARI VS FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2006) 11 NWLR (PT.991) 141 at 155, NWUDE VS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA (2004) 17 NWLR (PT.902) 306 at 328; LIKITA VS COMMISSIONER OF POLICE (2002) 11 NWLR (PT.777) 145; and ANAJEMBA VS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT OF NIGERIA (2004) 13 NWLR (PT.890) 267. The relevant considerations for a decision in respect of the above requirements can be listed as:- a) The evidence available against the accused; b) Availability of the accused to stand trial; c) The nature and gravity of the offence; d) The likelihood of the accused committing another offence while on bail; e) The likelihood of the accused interfering with the course of justice; f) The criminal antecedents of the accused person; g) The likelihood of further charge being brought against the accused; h) The probability of guilt; i) The detention for the prosecution of the accused j) The necessity to procure medical or social report pending final disposal of the case. These factors may not be relevant in all bail application cases and they are not also exhaustive. It may well be that any one or other may be applied to determine the question of bail in a particular case.

— U.M.A. Aji, JCA. Rajab v State (CA/A/128C/2009, 11th day of March, 2010)

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APPLICATION FOR FORFEITURE OF BAIL BOND BROUGHT AFTER JUDGEMENT IS UNKNOWN TO LAW

Further, by the combined effect of Sections 119, 120, 122, 127, 128, 137, 141 and 143 of the Criminal Procedure Act, forfeiture of bail bond is contemplated during criminal trial and not after the discharge and acquittal of the accused person as in the instant case. Once judgment is delivered, resulting in conviction or discharge and acquittal of the accused person, the obligation of the surety terminates. Thus, an application for forfeiture, brought after judgment has been delivered with the accused person discharged and acquitted, is with respect, unknown to law.

— I.T. Muhammad, JSC. FRN v Maishanu (2019) – SC.51/2015

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