There’s a little confusion on the matter of bail and how it works (or is supposed to work), so I’m going to do my civic duty and try to break it down.
What is Bail?
It’s the process in which a person who’s been arrested for a crime or whose prosecution has started secures temporary released from the custody of the state on the condition that the person attends court or the police station as frequently as the authorities may require.
Because of the presumption, in the adversarial system of justice that we practice (where burden of proof of crime is on the accuser), that everyone is innocent until charged and proven guilty.
Is Every Offence Bailable?
No. The respective laws that create offences and applicable punishments typically spell out whether or not a suspect is entitled to apply for bail. Generally, until recently, virtually all offences apart from those attracting capital punishment (the death penalty) were bailable. The world has grown a lot more complex now, so terrorism suspects can also be kept in custody until their trials have been concluded.
What are the General Conditions of Bail?
Typically, the court will require the accused person to produce a surety, who signs a bond with the court undertaking that they will personally see to it that the accused person is present in court whenever required (i.e. during any trial or hearing dates). Depending on the severity of the offence, the surety required ranges from the general responsible member of a suspect’s family to civil servants of a particular level or higher, sometimes with the additional condition of landed property in juicy real estate locations. Typically, the worse your suspected crime, the richer and more well-heeled your surety has to be.
The surety’s bond typically also has them undertaking to forfeit a certain sum of money to the courts in the event that the suspect jumps bail.
You Mean Suspects Jump Bail?
Hell, yeah! Alams jumped bail in London, back in the day. People jump bail all the time. Prison is terrifying.
What Happens Then?
The surety forfeits the amount of money stated in the bond; has to pay it to the government, as the court orders. And unless it can be established that the surety connived with the accused and was an accomplice in the accused person’s flight, that’s it.
Is GMB Justifiably Scared that Dasuki May Jump Bail?
Of course. A member of the “northern aristocracy” with everything to lose? A seemingly open and shut case against him? Yes, it is a real possibility. Especially with the court granting him permission to go abroad for a medical examination. Like abroad, mehn!
Does This Justify Refusal To Obey Court Orders?
By no means, whatsoever! In a democracy, court orders are to be obeyed first of all and then the judge may subsequently be approached to vary the order, or a higher court to quash it.
NB. I’m guessing here, but I believe the FGN’s tactic with Dasuki has been to re-arrest him on fresh charges at the point of his making bail. It’s dodgy-ish, but cunny man die, cunny man bury am! I say dodgy-ish because it would be highly irregular and patently illegal to simply refuse to let him go or to re-arrest him on the same charges for which he has secured bail.
Is There Middle Ground?
I think so. Obviously, the bail conditions for an extremely wealthy and well-connected person like the erstwhile NSA are nothing but a slap on the wrist. Let’s call a spade a spade. No matter the amount his surety is required to post, he is capable of finding the person. The surety is however unlikely to wield enough influence over him to keep him in the country or compel his attendance at court dates.
So what can be done?
I think the courts should set bail terms as stringent as possible. So maybe Dasuki has to deposit all his property deeds with the court as a further condition or that the DSS implants a microchip in his jaw or that he pay for 3 DSS agents (or more!) to be in his entourage at all times. Something so costly that he would simply have to stay to try to prove his innocence.
And there you have it.