Examining The Integrity Of Police Officers In Administering Bail
Whilst the power of the police to release a person on bail prior to trial has existed for centuries, the power to release on bail a person suspected of but not charged with a criminal offence has been available to the police only since 1925. The power to attach conditions to pre-charge bail is of very recent origin, having been introduced for the first time in 2003 but rapidly expanded since then. Whilst imposing restrictions on the liberty of a person should, constitutionally, be reserved to the judiciary, the fact that it was originally conceived, in part at least, as a mechanism for enhancing liberty reduced the constitutional tension created by allowing members of the executive such powers. However, the changing role of arrest in the investigation of crime and the granting of extensive powers to the police to impose bail conditions means that the police now have the ability to place controls on people not charged with a criminal offence for extended periods of time
Background to the Study
The concept of bail is very important in the administration of justice in any legal system and this is because the law is well settled that an accused person is considered innocent until he has been proven guilty in a court of law . Thus, where an accused person is arrested on the suspicion/allegation that he has committed a crime, the law provides that such an accused person must not be unduly detained in police custody as a form of punishment because the mere fact that a person has been alleged to have committed an offence does not necessarily mean that he is guilty of the offence.
Section 35 (1) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria guarantees the right to personal liberty of all Nigeriansand Section 35 (5) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria provides that an accused person who has been arrested on the allegation of having committed an offence must be charged to court within 24 hours where a court of competent jurisdiction is located within a radius of forty kilometers from the police station; and where a court is located within a radius above forty kilometers from the police station, the accused person must be charged to court within 48 hours or such longer period as a court might consider reasonable.
Bail is therefore a right of every accused person although several factors are usually taken into consideration before an accused person can be granted bail.
It is important to point out that the concept of bail is largely misunderstood in Nigeria and this is because a lot of Nigerians believe that once an accused person who is being tried or investigated for an offence is released on bail this automatically signifies the end of the matter. These set of Nigerians therefore feel that bail applications must be always be opposed whenever an accused person makes an application for bail.
Aim and Objectives of the Research
The aim of this research is to appraise the protection of the rights of a in Nigeria, in order to achieve the following objectives.
- To analyze the extent of bail administration in Nigeria.
- To examine the efficacy of integrity on police bail administration
- To identify the challenges in the protection of the rights of Nigerians in cases of police bail administration.
- To provide recommendations to the challenges.
Scope of the Research
The scope of the research is confined to the examination of following:
- Identifying possible problems that maybe encountered in the course of implementing police bail .
- Providing viable options in terms of general and specific recommendation on how to protect the rights of the in Nigeria in bail administration.
Significance of the Research
This research is to locate the extent to which the implementation of the Nigeria Rights Law 2010 addresses the issue of protection of the rights of the in Nigeria and Nigeria. It will serve as an additional literature to the existing one and when people read it, it will create awareness for the protection of the rights of the and prevention of abuses, by so doing the public will be better informed and it will in turn contribute to guaranteeing lasting respect for and the enforcement of rights in Nigeria and Niger at large. This research will be useful as a source of material to legislators, executives, the judiciary, lawyers, student engaging in related studies and the general public.
The research methodologies adopted here are doctrinal and empirical research methodology.
Doctrinal method means “theorizing without considering the practical consequences. It is called a visualized research, imaginative research, unpractical research, a visionary research or onceptual research” . The researcher went through volumes of books, statutes, and cases in the area of the law this research covers.
Empirical Method “involves the collection of fact and data through interviews, questionnaires from target groups. The fact and data are later analyzed or experimented upon, from which result are obtained. It is also called field-oriented method of research” . It include visit to Governmental and non- Governmental organizations based in Nigeria relevant on the general issue of protection and implementation of Rights Law 2010, of Nigeria to interview individuals and administer questionnaire.
Conclusions and Recommendation
The fact that under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria an accused person is considered innocent until proven guilty makes it imperative for the police, government agencies and the courts to grant accused persons bail on liberal terms so long as such accused persons have been able to adduce evidence showing that they are entitled to be admitted to bail.
Thus, the courts should only refuse to grant bail to accused persons if the prosecution is able to adduce evidence showing that the accused persons are not entitled to bail.
This admonition was also recently reechoed by the Administrator of the National Judicial Institute (NJI), Justice UmaruEri where he stated as follows:
“From statistics and my practical knowledge of the prisons, 50 percent of the warrants of those awaiting trials are signed by Judges of the Lower Courts, that is to say Magistrates, Area Court and Customary Court Judges. Why do we send suspect accused of overnight cases like minor theft, wandering, petty quarrels, perhaps at Club Houses, assault and improper dressing, to mention but a few, on remand?
Why do courts give in to requests for remand on mere presentation of First Information Report by Police? In most cases, these young persons plead not guilty and our lower courts proceed to grant them bail pending trial. They find themselves in prison because they have no sureties.
These are cases that require caution and discharge…And so also we have had politicians ensuring detention of their opponents in prison until after the elections are over. I therefore call on the various Judicial Service Commissions in the states to out rightly discipline any Judge of lower court found to abuse his powers. Bail in all these cases should be automatic with no conditions attached.” (Emphasis supplied)
In conclusion, the prompt granting of bail to accused persons would greatly help to decongest Nigerian prisons since majority of the prison inmates in Nigeria are those who are awaiting trial .
- It is the view of the writer that Section 32 (17) of this law be amended to conform to the provision of Evidence Act Section 209 (2) and also Section 25 (3) be amended to conform to Section 18 (1) to avoid the contradiction so as to ensure smooth implementation of the law. And Section 16 (1) be amended so as the human right will not use the loophole in that section to exploits the child and escape.
- The government should create more awareness by way of jingles in radio and television, organize seminars and workshops and also engage in open air campaign to the public down to the local government level.
The Government should show more commitment and transparency on bail administration issues issues by building a functional system and also ensuring that the specialize children police unit, and Family Court exist in all the local government areas of Nigeria. The implementation committee should be adequately funded by way of having their own budget and strictly been supervised. The government should show more commitment by ensuring that the right implementation committee is step down to all local government area of the state.
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