A Federal High Court in Abuja, has rejected an application seeking the cancellation of the legal provision requiring deposit of money for granting of bail in cases before court.
The plaintiff, Doctor A.C.B. Agbazure had asked the court to cancel Section 165, sub section two of the Administration of Criminal Justice which provides for such a bail, saying it is anti-people.
The plaintiff argued that deposit of money for bail in court cases discriminate against defendants who are poor.
According to the plaintiff, “The law is settled that the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is supreme and if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail and that other law shall to the extent of its inconsistency be void by virtue of section 1(1) and (3) of the constitution.
“That applicability of section 165(2) of the Administration of Criminal Act, 2015 will deprive Nigerian citizens of their liberty, freedom and fair hearing.
“With section 165(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, the accused is to pay money before his bail can be approved when the prosecution has neither proved the essential ingredients of the case nor has the accused been found guilty.
“By providing for the mandatory payment of money before bail is approved, section 165(2) of the Act has now presumed every person guilty when he has not been tried and found guilty. It is an aberration and ambush against the people and should not be allowed
“At a time when the level of poverty in Nigeria is so alarming that the President has declared that Nigeria is broke and states cannot pay salaries to workers except with the aid of bailout funds (which are also loans), any legislation imposing payment of money on Nigerian citizens before
their bail is approved is not only inconsistent with the intendment of section 36 (5) of the constitution but also a bad law as it is anti-people,” he argued.
But Justice Gabriel Kolawole in his judgement, ruled that section 165, sub section two of the administration of criminal justice is lawful.
Even though he dismissed the suit, Justice Kolawole however held that the plaintiff, being a citizen, had the right to challenge any law capable of undermining the supremacy of the constitution. The court equally dismissed contention of the National Assembly that it was bereft of the powers to expunge any piece of legislation found to be in contravention of any portion of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.
Justice Kolawole held that section 165(2) of the ACJA is valid and not inconsistent with section 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.