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APPLICANT FOR FORFEITURE OF BAIL BOND MUST DO SO TIMEOUSLY

Dictum

It is a settled principle of law and in a community reading of the provisions of Sections 137, 141 and 143 of the Criminal Procedure Act (CPA), that when an accused person/defendant is granted bail and he jumps it, the trial Court may, upon noticing such a breach by the accused/defendant may: i. revoke the bail, ii. issue a bench warrant for his arrest, iii. order the forfeiture of the bail bond, and iv. upon forfeiture of the bail bond, order the surety (sureties) to (each) pay the sum stated in the bond into the Court’s Registry. My lords, from the analysis given above from the decisions of the two lower Courts, it is clear that the two Courts are in concurrence on the finding that the appellant adopted wrong procedure in its application. Certainly, the law has its set out procedures in pursuance of applications relating to bail and perfection of bail bond and or its forfeiture as envisaged by Sections 137, 141 and 143 of the CPA or their similar provisions in other enactments. Therefore, an applicant for forfeiture of bail bond, such as in this matter, must do so timeously and should commence the procedure the moment the accused fails to appear in Court to attend to his trial.

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

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THERE MUST BE A VALID REASON FOR OPPOSING BAIL

A prosecutor cannot oppose bail merely as a routine procedure. There must be a valid cause or reason for opposing bail. In fact the onus is on the Respondent to show that the Appellants are not entitled to bail and has to provide the Court with antecedents or probability or even the tendency of an applicant escaping from being tried. See ADAMS VS ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE FEDERATION (2006); BOLAKALE VS STATE (supra); ANAKWE VS COMMISSIONER OF POLICE (1996) 3 NWLR (PT 436) 320 and OMODARA VS STATE (2004) 1 NWLR (PT.853) 80.

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

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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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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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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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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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