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Law/Judiciary

Bail: Determining Factors

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Section 35 of the 1999 constitution gurantees bail as a basic conditional right. A person may be denied of his personal liberty, for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the court order, upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence or to prevent his committing the offence.

Bail arises of three stages of criminal justice process;

[a] The police may release a suspect on bail pending further investigation.

[b] The court may release an accused person on bail pending the determination of the case against him.

[c] The court may release a convicted person on bail pending the determination of his appeal against his conviction.

So either the police or the court may grant bail. Section 27 of the police Act states that “When a person is arrested without a warrant, he shall be taken before a magistrate who has jurisdiction with respect to the offence with which he is charged or is empowered to deal with him under section 484 of the criminal procedure Act as soon as practicable, after he is taken into custody; provided that any police officer for the time being in charge of the police station may inquire into the case and:-

[a] except when the case appears to such officer to be of a serious nature, may release such person upon his entering into a recognisance with or without sureties for a reasonable amount, to appear before a magistrate at the day, time and place mentioned in the recognisance: or

[b] if it appears to such officer that such inquiry cannot be completed forthwith, may release such person on his entering into a recognisance, with or without sureties for a reasonable amount, to appear at such police station and at such time as are named in the recognisance, unless he previously receives notice in writing from the superior police officer in charge of that police station, that his attendance is not required, and any such bond may be enforced as if it were a recognisance conditional for the appearance of the said person before a magistrate.

Also section 17 of the criminal procedure Act provides that;

“When any person has been taken into custody without a warrant for an offence other than an offence punishable with death, any officer in charge of the police station may in any case, and shall, if it will not be practicable to bring such person before a magistrate or justice of peace having jurisdiction with respect to the offence charged within twenty- four hours after he was so taken into custody, inquire into the case, and , unless the offence appears to such officer to be of a serious nature, discharge the person upon his entering into a recognisance with or without sureties for reasonable amount to appear before a court at the time and place named in the recognisance but where such person is retained in custody he shall be brought before a court or justice of peace having jurisdiction with respect to the offence or empowered to deal with such person by section 484 of this Act as soon as practicable whether the police inquiries are completed.”

In the case of Eda V. commissioner of police [1982] 3 NCLR 219 the phrase “as soon as practicable” was held to be inconsistent with the specific periods provided for by section 35 [4] and [5] of the 1999 constitution. The phrase is therefore null and void to the extent that it is inconsistent with the specific provisions of sections 35 [4] and [5]

Section 18 of the criminal procedure Act provides that when a person is arrested without warrant of arrest pursuant to section 17 of the C.P.A, for an offence other than that punishable with death, if it appears to the officer in charge of the station that inquiry into the case cannot be completed forthwith, he may discharge the said person on bail. The bail shall be upon his entering into a recognsance, with or without sureties, for a reasonable amount to appear at the police station at such time as the police may require his attendance, unless he receives notice in writing from the officer in charge of the station that his attendance is not required. Such recognisance  is enforceable as if it were a recognisance conditional for the appearance of the person before a magistrate court in the same district as the police station.

However, the following conditions must be considered for the grant or refusal of bail:-

1. When there is an evidence before the court that the accused person is likely to or has already included in acts which might interfere with further investigation of the case or the conduct of the proceedings at his trial, his application for bail may not be granted as was the case in Bamaiyi V. The state [2001] 3.S.C 53 at 76. Where inducement was intended to facilitate the retrieval of incriminating evidence against him, in custody of the police.

2. The gravity of the offence also influences the courts discretion to grant or withhold bail, even though an accused is presume-med innocent until proven guilty and therefore ordinarily is entitled to bail

3. Where there is likelihood of the accused person committing another offence if released on bail, the court will withhold bail. In R.V.Jammal. [1941] 16 N.L.R. 54, the accused person committed an offence while he was on bail for an earlier charge. His application for bail on the later offence was rejected.

4. An accused person’s criminal record is to be taken into consideration in the grant or refusal of bail, A first offender is more likely to be admitted to bail than a habitual criminal. The fact that a person has not been convicted for crime is a prima facie evidence of good character, until the contrary is proved. Such a person will readily be granted bail pending his trail.

5. A person charged with an offence may not be admitted to bail if the offence alleged is prevalent in the areas where the accused resides. Note that bail is not just intended to secure the attendance of an accused person for his trial, it is also necessary to discourage the commission of offences that have attained high frequency of occurrence, such as obtaining by false pretence.

6. The ill health of an accused person is a relevant factor in the grant of his application for bail, but note also that there must be proof before the court that the accused person is not only ill but that it will be judicious to grant him bail. In Fawehinmi V State [1990] N. W.L.R [pt 127] 486, the court of Appeal considers the ill health of the accused person sufficient special circumstance to grant him bail.

It is worthy to note that an application for bail should not be refused as a punitive measure.

 

Nkechi Bright-Ewere

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Law/Judiciary

Fish Farming’ll Reduce Cultism, Crime – NFAN

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The National Fish Association of Nigeria (NFAN), South-South region, has said that a venture into agriculture particularly fish farming would help to curb the rising spate of cultism, pipeline vandalisation and other related crimes not only among youths but Nigerians.
The National Vice President, National Fish Association of Nigeria, South/South Zone, Comrade Billy Prekunoma-a Thankyou, stated this at the one-day NFAN South/South Zonal Summit at the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) House, Port Harcourt, recently.
Thankyou, who regretted that the agricultural sub-sector, fish farming, had long been neglected and abandoned noted, however, that the sector has the capacity of generating millions of jobs across the nation thereby engaging the youths and idle-minds and reducing the violence and crime pervading the region and nation at large.
Thankyou, who recalled the recent outcry by the inhabitants of the zone on the upsurge of soot said it was due largely to the activities of youths involved in illegal refining of crude oil popularly known as bunkering.
According to him, fish industry is one major vista of hope for replacing Artisanal Refining and its attendant problems of health challenge and economic sabotage.
The Vice President, South/South Zone of NFAN maintained that the association was living up to its mandate and urged the government of the z\one to work in synergy to create a wealthy, healthy and crime-free region through the strengthening of weak agricultural institutions and better policy framework to enable the youths start up micro and macro-businesses within the region.
“By doing this, the issue of cultism, pipeline vandalisation, artisanal refining and soot would be laid to rest permanently within the region, he said.
In attendance were the representative of the BoT, NFAN, Mr Tanko Osamwonyi, from Federal Ministry of Trade and Investment, Mrs Hajara Abdulahi, Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Mrs Martina Usang, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mr Mike Asebake Brooks, University of Port Harcourt, Dr (Mrs) Nene Jamabo, HOD, Fisheries, River State University, Prof. Deekae Suanu, Head DFO, CNB, Mrs A. O. Osuya and Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Port Harcourt, Mr Goodluck Nwoko and other dignitaries from Rivers State, Akwa Ibom State, Delta State and Bayelsa State. Also Assistant National Organising Secretary, NFAN, Mrs Mary Onota-Akemu, National PRO, NFAn, Chief Mazi Okoh and National Vice President, South East, Mr Patrick Mbah.

 

Lady Godknows Ogbulu

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Law/Judiciary

Court Orders Military To Pay N20m Damages To LG  Boss, Two Others

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A State High Court sitting in
Port Harcourt has ordered the Nigerian Army to pay the sum of N20 million as damages to the Chairman of Akuku-Toru Local Government Council, Mr Roland Sekibo  and two others for harassment during the February 23 Presidential and National Assembly elections.
The Tide gathered that the  Nigerian Army  had raided the homes of Roland Sekibo, Tobins Tobins and Damiete Dokubo during the 2019 Presidential election and declared same wanted  over allegations of sponsoring hoodlums to truncate the electoral process to favour the Peoples Democratic Party in the state.
The judgment was delivered  Monday by Justice Gorge Omerji in Port Harcourt.
The court  declared that the actions of the military against the three persons were anti-democratic, thus the reason for the judgment.
Hon. Justice Omereji condemned the military for issuing a statement indicting the Executive Chairman of Council,  Mr Sekibo and the others as masterminds of events that occurred on the 23rd of February, 2019 Presidential and National Assembly polls.
According to the learned judge, it was wrong for the military to have  issued a statement, declaring the three persons wanted without the opportunity  of fair hearing.
Omereji, however, ordered the Nigerian Army and the Chief of Army Staff to pay the sum of N20 million, as damages for the raid of the private homes of the parties.
In a chat with newsmen,  Counsel for  Roland Sekibo, Mr  Ibim  Dokubo,  pointed out that the judgment of the court so far,   had proven that his client  and the two others were innocent when they participated  in the general elections.
“It gave a clear landmark judicial pronouncement, stating that the event of the 23 of February  which happened in the course of the general election as it applied to Roland Sekibo, Tobins Tobins and Damiete Dokubo were an infringement on their fundamental human rights.
“The court granted all the prayers we sought and condemned in clear terms the involvement and actions of the military in the electoral process. The sum of 20 million naira was awarded in favour of all the applicants as against the military.
“This means that our clients were not wrong in participating in the election, but it was undemocratic for the military to have arrested them and invaded their homes in any manner.”, he said.
The  counsel for  the First and Second respondents, Nigerian Army and the General Officer Commanding the 6 Division Port Harcourt and the Chief of Army Staff,  Mr Samuel Edewede, hinted  that the Army would appeal the judgment.
”The judgment went against us and the court resolved that my clients carried out the act complained about by the applicants. We do not feel satisfied because we have said we were not election agents. In this era when people go about with military uniform and carry military guns and carry out acts, but court agreed with them that it was the military,” he  stressed.

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Law/Judiciary

Body Wants Effective Enforcement Of Correctional Service Act

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Executive Director, Prisoners’ Rehabilitation and Welfare Action (PRAWA), Dr Uju Agomoh, yesterday called for effective enforcement of the Correctional Service Act, for better service delivery.
Agomoh, who said this in an interview with The Tide in Abuja, described the prisons change of name as long-awaited.
The Tide reports that bills sponsored by eight senators and members of the House of Representatives were harmonised to give birth to the Nigerian Correctional Service Bill.
The lawmakers include Senators Shaaba Lafiaji, Oluremi Tinubu, Babajide Omoworare and Gershom Bassey, while their House of Representatives counterparts were Henry Nwawuba, Ochiglegor Igagbor, Danburam Abubakar and Johnbull Shekarau.
The draft harmonised bill of the 8th Assembly was reviewed by the Committee of Interior of the Senate in April 2018 and July 2018.
In early August, the president assented to the bill in early August.
According to Agomoh, enforcement of the act would change the notion that it was meant to punish offenders, rather than correcting them.
“You will agree with me that sending one to a prison is already a punishment. But what is important is that while the person is there, we should be able to reduce the chances of that person committing the same offence when out of the service.

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