Commissioner of Police in Rivers State, Joseph Mukan, has stated that bail is free. He said this during a live radio programme monitored in Port Harcourt.
CP Mukan said any station or officer that asks for bail from citizens or detainees is corrupt.
He directed victims to report such action to the police headquarters for appropriate sanction.
Corroborating the CP's declaration, Onyekadi Umah, Esq, in his post Daily Law Tips said that, 'bail is free and constitutional in Nigeria.”
Quoting relevant sections of the constitution – section 35 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and section 27 of the Police Act, sections 17 and 118 of the criminal procedure act, as well as sections 129, 340 and 341 of the criminal procedure code, Umah said that bail remains free in any security agency and any courts of law across the country.
He noted that by the relevant section of the law, police can grant bail to a suspect, just as a court can grant bail to an accused person (defendant) or convicted person.
He further educated the public that, “bail required no fee, gift, processing fee, management fee, surety fee, appreciation fee, file fee or payment whatsoever,” he added that the surety is not supposed to pay money for bail but has a duty to sign a bail bond.
But the statement that bail is free has continued to generate more controversies than it can address both in the past and present, when viewed against celebrated cases. A case in point is that of an investigative journalist, Fisayo Soyombo who spent two weeks in detention – five days in a police cell and eight days as an inmate in Ikoyi Prison in Lagos, in his covert moves to track corruption in Nigeria's criminal justice system, from the point of his arrest and that of release from prison.
It could be recalled that Soyombo adopted the Pseudonym Ojo Olajumoke where he feigned an offence for which he was arrested, detained, arraigned in court and finally remanded in prison.
Through his experience, he came away with the fact that police in Nigeria have a history of unlawful arrests and extrajudicial killings, in addition to corrupt practices among some of its officers.
Fisayo Soyombo's (aka Ojo Olagumoke) supposed offence was that someone had sold him a car worth N2.8million in November, 2018. He pretended to have paid N300,000 cash and began to avoid the supposed car owner, leading to his apprehension on Monday July 8. His experiences gave him a first hand information about police handling of criminal and other civil cases, thereby exposing instances of corruption in the system.
This is not the first time, according to our investigation, the police would be singing the bail-is-free slogan to the public. In 2015 and 2017, the police embarked on a nationwide campaign to state that bail is free, but experiences like that of Fisayo Soyombo and others have shown that the police authorities will require to do more than mere declaration.