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Procedures for bail application

For police bail:

  • A person seeking police bail can do so by writing an application requesting for bail. This can be done by the person or his counsel. The application letter should state those who will stand as sureties, or if he wishes to be released on self-recognizance.
  • The police will review his application and may grant him bail.

For court bail:

  • To apply for bail, the accused person’s counsel can make an oral or written application upon arraignment before the court. Section 32(3) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 states that an application for bail may be made orally or in writing.
  • The court will stipulate certain conditions or terms of bail before the suspect’s release can be successful.
1

What happens if bail is denied?

When you apply for bail and it is denied by a court, you can appeal against such decision in a higher court.

For instance, if you make a bail application in the Federal High Court and it is denied, you can appeal to the Court of Appeal. If your appeal is successful, the appellate court will set aside the decision of the lower court and your bail will be granted.

If bail is denied on appeal, you will have to stay in detention, which must still be lawful and meet the requirements explored in the sections on detention.

2

What are the factors the court will consider when deciding to grant or refuse bail?

There are factors that courts have to take into consideration in bail applications. These conditions determine whether bail will be granted or denied:

1. In the instance of bail pending trial, the court determines the following conditions before your bail is granted or denied:

  • The evidence available against the accused – As a suspect, the court may examine the evidence brought against you.

  • The availability of the accused to stand trial –  If there is any evidence that you might likely disobey orders to appear in court, your bail application may be refused.

  • The nature and gravity of the offence – If the offence alleged is grievous and attracts severe punishment under law, your application may be refused.

  • Likelihood of the accused committing another offence while on bail – if you are considered unlikely to commit any other offence when released on bail, your bail may be granted.

  • The likelihood of the accused interfering with the course of justice – Your bail application may likely be refused if there is any evidence that you can interfere with justice. It could be evidence that you have the tendency to threaten witnesses, disrupt police investigations and destroy evidence that may lead to your conviction.

  • The criminal antecedents of the accused person – if there are past records of crimes you committed, it may greatly affect the court’s discretion in granting or refusing bail.

  • Detention for the protection of the accused – if there is likelihood that an accused may be harmed in any way if released pending the determination of his case, the court may withhold bail in order to ensure the protection of the accused.

  • The necessity to procure a medical or social report pending final disposal of the case.

It is important to note that all factors listed above need to be present before your bail application is granted or denied. A court may refuse your bail application if one of the factors are proven against you.

A real-life case:

The court in Dantata v Inspector General of Police refused to grant the applicant’s bail application because he had earlier offered a bribe to the police as an inducement to facilitate the disappearance of incriminating evidence against him.

2. In the instance of bail pending appeal, there are exceptional circumstances that have to be proven before bail can be granted or refused.

  • Health Grounds – Such applicant must be able to prove and provide medical records from an expert in the field of medicine in connection with his ill-health to prove this to the court. The applicant must establish that the ill-health afflicting him cannot be treated by the prison authority. An infectious disease that may be hazardous to others (inmate(s) and/or prison officials), especially if there are no quarantine facilities within the prison authorities to contain it, may also be considered as grounds by the court.

Please note that a mere allegation of ill-health does not entitle an Applicant to be granted bail unless such ill-health is so compelling that a refusal of same may lead to death or be hazardous to others.

  • Likelihood of Success on Appeal – In cases where the grounds of appeal suggest the possibility of the appeal being successful, the appellate court may grant bail. For instance, where the sentence given by the trial court is excessive or strange, or there is a manifest error in the jdgement delivered, it may be considered to constitute special circumstances for which bail may be granted to an applicant pending the determination of the issue on appeal.

  • Where it is shown that the applicant would have completed serving his sentence before his appeal is finally determined, the court may grant bail.

  • If the appellant was granted bail during the trial, and he did not attempt to jump bail.

  • Where the applicant’s presence is needed and important for the preparation of his appeal for subsequent consultations with his counsel.

A real-life case:

Fawehinmi v. State (1990) 1 NWLR (Pt. 127) 486 – it was held that bail can be granted if the accused person needs to be on regular medical observation requiring the use of special equipment which are not available in the prison clinic and which are not easily moveable.

3

Revocation of bail

In the event that a bail granted to an accused person is withdrawn or cancelled, the bail is said to have been revoked.

Bail may be revoked if an accused person jumps bail or violates one or more conditions of the bail term.

An accused is said to jump bail where he/she fails to attend court on any date fixed in the bail agreement. Once the bail is revoked, the accused will be re-arrested.

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