My right to bail

Bail is also a right an accused person is entitled to. Types of Bail are as provided below:

  1. a) Bail by the Police
  2. b) Bail by the Court pending trial
  3. c) Bail by the Court pending Appeal

Bail by the Police:

The right of a suspect to bail is a constitutional right which provides that a suspect is entitled to be released with or without conditions, even if further proceedings may be brought against him, within a period of a day or two days of his arrest and detention, as the case may be. This right  empowers the police to grant bail to a suspect on self recognition or on his entering into a bond with or without a surety for a valuable sum, to report at the police station at a given date and time.

Where by virtue of the nature and circumstances of a particular case it is not feasible for the police to release the suspect on bail, he must be charged to court not later than a period of 24 to 48 hours, from the date of detention[1]. The court held that where the Police arrests and detains a person over an allegation or reasonable suspicion of committing an offence, and investigation of the case are on-going, it is their duty to offer bail to the suspect and/or charge him to court, within 24 hours,[2]

NOTE: As soon as the matter is charged to court and the suspect appears in court, the bail by the Police lapses and a fresh application has to be made before the court.


Bail by the Court pending trial:

Power of court to grant bail

This depends on the nature of the offence and the court before which the accused is charged and here you must involve your lawyer.




The Magistrate cannot grant bail in capital offences. [3]

While the Magistrate may be slow to grant bail in non-capital offences but which carry more than 3 years imprisonment, bail is almost always granted in simple offences except there are compelling reasons to the contrary. [4]



Being a court of unlimited criminal jurisdiction, the High Court has power to grant bail in all criminal cases tried by it. Bail in capital cases is however not automatic.[5]

For the applicant to be entitled to bail in a capital offence, he must show special circumstances why bail must be granted. [6]

To qualify as special circumstance, the fact must be so compelling that to refuse bail would amount to manifest injustice such as serious Ill-health, Inordinate delay in the prosecution of the applicant resulting in exceptionally long period in detention without trial may also constitute such special circumstances.


Factors guiding grant of bail include:

  1. a) that by reason of the grant, proper investigation of the offence would not be prejudiced.
  2. b) that no serious risk of the accused escaping from justice would be occasioned.
  3. c) that no grounds exists for believing that the accused if released would commit an offence.


However, the Supreme Court recognized the following[7] as factors that may guide the courts in considering whether to grant bail in any particular case.

  1. a) the nature of the offence and the punishment prescribed.
  2. b) The nature, character and quality of evidence against the accused
  3. c) The possibility of the accused interfering with further investigation and/or prosecution of the case if granted bail.
  4. d) The prevalence of the offence
  5. e) Detention for the protection of the accused person.
  6. f) The possibility of the accused committing the same or similar offence while on bail
  7. g) The criminal record of the accused. If the accused can show that he is a man of good character who has never been convicted of any offence, he is more likely to secure the sympathy of the court. You can see that it is good to be a person of good character because frequent involvement in criminal activities or many criminal cases are influential factors.
  8. h) Ill-health.

If the accused is relying on ill health, don not invoke this to deceive the court because he must show the following:

  1. the ill-health is such as would affect other inmates of the detention place.
  2. there is a positive, cogent and convincing medical report issued by an expert in that field of medicine to which the accused suffering the ill-health is
  3. the authorities have no access to such medical facilities as are required in treating the accused’s ailment


[1] Section 3(2) of ACJL; section 17 of CPA

[2] Eda v. Commissioner of Police (1982) 6 NCLR, 223

[3] See Sections 118 (1) & 341 (1) of the CPA and CPC

[4] See generally Sections.118 CPA;  340 & 341 CPC.

[5] See Section. 341 (1) of the 1999 Constitution

[6] See Section 341 (3) CPC. and Abacha Vs The State (2002) FWLR (pt.98) 863 @ 881.

[7] Bamaiyi Vs. The State (2001) 4 SCNJ 103,