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PRINCIPLE BEHIND THE GRANT OF BAIL

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What is the principle governing the grant of bail. What it might be asked is the accused’s right of bail. It is to be stated that in virtually all civilised countries where the rule of law reigns supreme, the procedural law does not rest upon any priori sentimentality about the criminal act. Indeed the great Jurists and lawmakers and the framers of the constitution who in their different activities fashioned our laws were not and are not motivated or animated by any particular softness towards the lawbreakers. The basis behind all the procedures which ensure adequate reasonable safeguards is not rooted in coddling the criminal or any miscreant or indeed treat his alleged nefarious act with kid gloves. It is not equally to ensure that there are large and enough veritable loopholes by which he can effect his escape from the consequences of the result of his evil act. Rather it is to preserve our heritage for freedom; that a person accused is not detained for the purpose of making him suffer indignity, and that it is effectively to make certain as nearly as the complexity and perplexity of our world will permit that the truth will be discovered and that justice will be done. It therefore does not rest on a misguided and naïve unrequited emotionalism.

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

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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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IN OUR COUNTRY, COURTS SHOULD BE CAUTIOUS IN REMANDING ACCUSED

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 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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FACTORS TAKEN INTO CONSIDERATION FOR BAIL

The learned trial Judge listed out a number of factors or criteria that may be taken into consideration by a Judge in granting or refusing bail pending trial. These include (1) the evidence available against the accused; (2) availability of the accused to stand trial; (3) the nature and gravity of the offence; (4) the likelihood of the accused committing another offence while on bail; (5) the likelihood of the accused interfering with the course of justice; (6) the criminal antecedents of the accused person; (7) the likelihood of further charge being brought against the accused; (8) the probability of guilt; (9) detention for the protection of the accused; (10) the necessity to procure medical or social report pending final disposal of the case. Generally, these are some of the factors that may be taken into consideration. It is by no means expected that all will be relevant in every case. I do not also think they are exhaustive. It may well be any one or others may be applied to determine the question of bail in a particular case. The learned trial Judge realised this when he said:- “The bailability of an accused depends largely upon the weight a Judge attached to one or several of the criteria open to him in any given case”. This is eminently a correct view. The learned trial Judge said further:- “The determination of the criteria is very important because the liberty of the individual stands or falls by the decision of a Judge in performing the function. A Judge wields discretionary power which, like all other discretionary powers, must be exercised judiciously and judicially. In exercising the discretion, a Judge is bound to examine the evidence before him without considering any extraneous matter”. This is also correct.

— 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 TO ENFORCE BAIL BOND IS INTERLOCUTORY

The application to enforce bail bond or recognisance is ordinarily interlocutory. Of course, an interlocutory application is an application or motion for an equitable or legal relief sought before a final decision. The appropriate time to bring such application, ordinarily, is during the pendency or subsistence of the substantive criminal proceedings; an interlocutory application being one for interim or temporary relief. I have read Sections 137 and 140 of the Criminal Procedure Act, and I am of the firm view that the interlocutory application for the forfeiture of recognisance or bail bond must be made during the pendency of the matter and at the time the trial Court has “jurisdiction over the matter”. Once the trial Court becomes functus officio in the matter of the criminal proceedings it ceases thenceforth to have jurisdiction over the matter.

— E. Eko, JSC. FRN v Maishanu (2019) – SC.51/2015

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