Detention and bail



Detention as the act of ‘holding in custody’, or ‘the state of being detained’. In the context of this guide, detention means the deprivation of the liberty of a person due to arrest by the police or other law enforcement agencies, or bodies enabled by law. You are not only detained when kept in a police cell, or prison. Once your freedom of movement is restricted and you are kept in a particular place (usually in a police station), detention has taken place. You may also be detained in a court holding cell.

Bail is a process by which a suspect arrested or detained is temporarily released from custody to await trial. For this, the suspect arrested has to satisfy certain conditions or requirements for securing such a release.


Scope of this guide

The guide offers you knowledge about

  • The nature and scope of detention;
  • What unlawful detention entails and steps you can take to challenge unlawful detention;
  • Remedies available when detained unlawfully.
  • The nature and scope of bail.
  • Types of bail and processes involved in bail application.
  • The roles of sureties in bail administration.

It is important to understand that the laws in Nigeria change over time. While this guide provides you with practical steps of enforcing your rights, it is not legal advice and it is important for you to seek and get legal advice from a lawyer or support organisation if you need specific advice.



This guide was put together by a team of Lawyers, CSO Experts, and Law Students (NJEF Fellows) in partnership with NULAI and Action 4 Justice.

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