Oral Application for Bail is Allowed in High Courts.

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Oral Application for Bail is Allowed in High Courts. Daily Law Tips (Tip 643) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

In Nigeria, like in other countries, there are types of courts (inferior/state-owned and superior/federal-owned courts). There is a hierarchy, with some courts being at the base for small claims and simple offences. The courts at the base of the hierarchy of courts are courts of summary jurisdiction, with little need for writing/documentation (they are often referred to as “inferior courts”). The inferior courts are created by state laws and often allow oral applications (motions, prayers/requests). Since the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) has no state legislature, the federal legislature (National Assembly) creates inferior courts for the FCT.

On top of the inferior courts are the Superior Courts, created by the National Assembly through federal laws, like the Constitution of Nigeria and several establishment Acts. The superior courts are courts of records, they always require applications to be in writing and not orally made. Among the inferior courts in Nigeria, are Customary Courts, Area Courts and Magistrate Courts. The Superior Courts include; State High Courts, Federal High Courts, Sharia Court of Appeal, Customary Court of Appeal, National Industrial Courts, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court (the apex court).  

Unlike the inferior courts that normally/regularly accept oral applications, there are few situations where the superior courts allow oral applications. One of such is in cases for bail for suspects that have been detained for more than 24 hours for non-capital offenses. In such cases, oral applications for bail are allowed in all courts. Under the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and similar state laws in states across Nigeria, a suspect must be released within 24 hours of his being arrested, especially where the alleged crime is not punishable with death (capital offence). 

Where a suspect is not granted bail within 24 hours, any person can go to court/institute a case against the concerned law enforcement agency (and its agents) on behalf of the suspect. The court will order the suspect to be produced (brought to) court and inquire into the circumstances of the detention. Where the court desires, the court will grant bail to the suspect. An application for bail in court, can be written or oral, even if the court is a superior court (High Court/Federal High Court/National Industrial Court). Click to read my other works on Bail in Nigeria. 

My authorities are:

1. Sections 32, 494 and 495 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and its equivalent in states across Nigeria. 

2. Sections 34, 35, 36, 230, 237, 249, 255, 260, 265, 318 and 319 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999. 

3. The Court of Appeal judgment in the case of Chief Alhaji Moshood Kashimawo Abiola V. Federal Republic of Nigeria (1995) NWRL PART 370 P.155.

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