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

Dictum

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 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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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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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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APPLICANT FOR FORFEITURE OF BAIL BOND MUST DO SO TIMEOUSLY

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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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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