CAN A SUSPECT BE GRANTED BAIL WHILE INVESTIGATION IS ON GOING?* Daily Law Tips (Tip 526) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

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By the laws of Nigeria, every suspect (arrested person) is presumed innocent by all persons including security agencies and courts. It is the duty of security agencies and prosecutors to prove beyond reasonable doubt that an arrested person is guilty of his alleged offence. In reality, some security agencies/officers refuse to grant bail to arrested persons (suspects) for the reason that such security agencies/officers are still carrying out investigations. Shamefully, in doing so, suspects are illegally presumed guilty by security agencies and made to serve imprisonments without trial- this is grossly unconstitutional.

It is illegal and unconstitutional for a suspect (arrested person) to be kept in detention while investigation is ongoing. A suspect cannot be kept beyond 24/48 hours depending on closeness of competent court except with an order of court. As expected, security agencies are to conduct investigations, have reasonable proof of crime before arresting and detaining any person. Investigations must always come first before an arrest. Yes, suspicion of crime must be reasonable with proofs and not mere wishes or fashioned primitive tool of investigation.

Every security officer having custody of a suspect has statutory powers and rights to release a suspect on bail with or without sureties even where it appears investigation is still ongoing. The arrested person is to appear at the office of the security agency at any time that the security agency demands. As always, BAIL is free. It is illegal to appreciate (pay) any security officer/government officer that assists in grant of bail. Government has already paid them for their work!

My authorities are

1. Sections 35, 36, 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999.

2. And, also sections 31(1), 494 and 495 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and other similar laws across States in Nigeria.

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