A legal practitioner in Delta State, Oghenejabor Ikimi, ESQ., has called on the Delta State Government to expunge a section of the Delta State law on bail.
In a letter addressed separately to His Excellency, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, Executive Governor of Delta State, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, Speaker, Delta State House of Assembly, and the Clerk, Delta State House of Assembly, with the heading ‘Re: Urgent Need to Expunge the Proviso to Section 120 of The Criminal Procedure Law Cap. C22 Laws of Delta State of Nigeria, 2006’, Barr. Ikimi said that the law is inconsistent with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended).
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Section 120 of the Criminal Procedure Law Cap. C22 Laws of Delta State of Nigeria, 2006 on the amount of bail to be paid reads that: “The amount of bail to be taken in any case shall be in the discretion of the court by whom the order for the taking of such bail is made, shall be fixed with due regard to the circumstances of the case and shall not be excessive: Provided that at the time of making the application for bail the applicant shall deposit with the Registrar, 1 ream of typing sheet paper; 2 standard office file jackets; 1 typing ribbon and 1 bottle of correction fluid for the official use of the court or the Director of Public Prosecution.”
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Quoting from Section35(1)(c),(4)(a) & (b) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Ikimi said that “Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law for the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the order of a court or upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence, or to such extent as may be reasonably necessary to prevent his committing a criminal offence.”
He continued: “Any person who is arrested or detained in accordance with subsection (1)(c) of this section shall be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time, and if he is not tried within a period of two months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who is in custody or is not entitled to bail; or three months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who has been released on bail, he shall (without prejudice to any further proceedings that may be brought against him) be released either unconditionally or upon such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears for trial at a later date.”
Ikimi argued that from the ordinary meaning of the wordings in the Laws of Delta Sate of Nigeria, 2006 when juxtaposed with the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), same is inconsistent with the Constitution and by virtue of Section 1(3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) the said provision is inconsistent with the provision of the Constitution and as such the Constitution shall prevail, and that other Law shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void.
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He added: “Bail under the 1999 Constitution is free,” and thus called on the members of the Delta State House of Assembly to expunge the said provision from Delta State Criminal Procedure Law which he said was an obstacle to the constitutional rights of Deltans to bail in our Law Courts as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
According to Ikimi, the letter was a pre-action notice.
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