Bail is when the liberty of the accused is secured pending further investigations. The 1992 constitution in article 14(4) gives the right to bail to every individual. See article 14(4). Also, the Section 15(1) of COOPA (Act 30) provides that “A person taken into custody without a warrant in connection with an offence shall be released from custody not later than forty-eight hours after arrest unless that person is earlier brought before a court of competent jurisdiction.”
Types of Bail:
There are three types of bail. These are police enquiry bail, bail pending trial, and bail pending appeal.
Are All Offences Bailable?
Per the provisions in Section 96(7) of COOPA (Act 30), a court shall refuse bail in instances of terrorism, treason, subversion, murder, robbery, escape from lawful custody, hijacking, piracy, rape, defilement or escape from lawful custody.
However, the Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Kpebu v. Attorney General (2016) declared the provisions in Section 96(7) of COOPA (Act 30) as contravening articles 15(2) and 19(2)(c) of the Constitution 1992 and is therefore null and void and of no effect.
Thus, the ruling made all offences bailable.
Does Every Accused Person Get Bail?
The granting of bail is discretionary. In Section 96(5) of COOPA (Act 30), a court shall refuse to grant bail if it is satisfied that the accused may not appear to stand trial, or may interfere with witnesses or the evidence, or may hamper police investigations, or may commit a further offence when on bail.
The court, per Section 96(4) of COOPA (Act 30), shall not withhold or withdraw bail merely as a punishment.
How does the Judge Determine that An Accused may Abscond Bail? (Fail to Appear for Trial):
One of the grounds a court shall refuse bail is if it is satisfied that the accused may not appear to stand trial. To reach such a satisfaction, per Section 96(6) of COOPA (Act 30), the court shall take into account the following:
a. The nature of the accusation.
b. The nature of the evidence in support of the accusation.
c. The severity of the punishment which a conviction will entail.
d. Whether the defendant, having been released on bail on a previous occasion, has wilfully failed to comply with the conditions of the recognisance entered into by the defendant on that occasion.
e. Whether or not the defendant has a fixed place of abode in the Republic, and is gainfully employed.
f. Whether the sureties are independent, of good character and of sufficient means.
When Can Bail be Granted:
Per section 96 of COOPA (Act 30), bail can be granted at any stage of the trial process. Before trial, during trial, upon conviction pending appeal.