Bail Bonds in the Criminal Justice System

Lawyers described the use of surety bonds as an important step in improving the criminal justice system.

But observers question whether bail as ordered by the courts is the same as the physical value of the security provided by the defendant.

However, audits show that bonds are generally not cash deposits with the court; they are much more than that.

A recent incident in bail enforcement is in the case of former Imo State Governor, Senator Rochas Okorocha by a Federal High Court in Abuja for alleged money laundering.

The court, presided over by Judge Inyang Ekwo, on May 31 ordered Okorocha’s release on a bond of 500 million naira and a bond of a similar amount.

The court further ordered the surety to produce a title deed showing ownership of land in Abuja worth the amount of the surety and to lodge his international passport with the clerk of the court.

It will be recalled that another senator, Ali Ndume, was remanded in November 2020 to the Nigerian Kuje Correctional Center for his failure to produce a former Chairman of the Presidential Pension Reform Task Force (PPRTT) , Abdulrasheed Maina, for whom he vouched. , or waive the sum of 500 million naira.

Relief came after the accused was arrested and repatriated from neighboring Niger Republic.

Bail is intended to enable an accused to adequately prepare for his defense as provided for in Sections 35 and 36 of the Nigerian Constitution of 1999.

Thus, it promotes fairness, justice, the rights of the suspect and the protection of society against crime.

Some experts believe that bail, as a recognizance, can also be granted by law enforcement, outside of court, as all of this is intended to provide guarantees that the suspect, accused or the defendant is presented at the time and date specified by the authority.

Thus, ‘bail’ is further defined as the release of ‘a person arrested or imprisoned from bail (guarantee) taken for his appearance on a specified day and place’.

According to Black Law’s Dictionary, 9th Edition, “’bond’ is security such as money or bond; in particular the guarantee required by a court for the release of a detainee who must subsequently appear before a court.

The dictionary defines a “bail” as follows: “when the bond is used to prevent an accused from being released from prison before the hearing”. He added that bail is “taken if the person does not appear in court. A bail bondsman can help pay the debt.

Under section 30 (1) of the Criminal Procedure Act, any court, when issuing a warrant for the arrest of a person for any matter other than an offense punishable by of death, may, if he deems it expedient by affixing an endorsement to the warrant, order that the person named in the warrant be released upon his arrest as soon as he has signed a recognizance to appear which may be required in the endorsement.

Subsection (2) provides the following conditions for the endorsement of the surety: a) the number of sureties, if any; (b) the amount to which they and the person named in the warrant are respectively liable; (c) the court before which the arrested person is to appear; and (d) the time at which he is to appear, including an undertaking to appear at such later date as may be ordered by any court in which he may appear.

Subsection 3 provides that “Where such mention is made, the officer in charge of any police station to which, on his arrest, the person named in the warrant is conducted, shall release him as soon as he has contracted commitment.

“(4) When a bond is given under this section, the officer taking the recognizance must cause it to be transmitted to the court before which the person named in the recognizance is required to appear.

Weighing in on the matter, the lawyers say bail is anchored on the presumption of innocence.

Professor Paul Ananaba (SAN) said bail is an important aspect of criminal justice, adding that without bail justice would not be seen to have been served for all parties.

Chinelo Ogbozor Esq said “bail is the temporary release of the accused or a person suspected of having committed a crime”.

She said it was a constitutional safeguard against the incarceration of a defendant enjoying the presumption of innocence.

“Bail provides defendants with sufficient time and easy access to all facilities for their defence,” she added.

For Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq, bail is a temporary release that the court generally grants to a defendant or a defendant who brings a criminal action against him under such conditions as the court may decide.

“In the administration of justice, bail is in accordance with the constitutional principle enshrined in Section 36 (5) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) that any person subject to a criminal trial in court is innocent until found guilty as such by the court,” he said.