➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Vincent Ogueri v. The State (12th July 2000)
by Branham Chima.
➥ ISSUES RAISED
Bail when charged with murder.
➥ CASE FACT/HISTORY
The cornerstone of this case is whether the Appellant who was charged with the offence of murder and whose application for bail was rejected by Metu J. (now retired) who was then seised of the matter and which case is now transferred to Ogugua J and who similarly rejected his application for bail ought on the affidavit evidence to be granted bail. This appeal arises from the refusal of the learned trial Judge, Ogugua J, to grant the application for bail.
➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION(S)
I. (BAIL). Whether there are coercive and compelling reasons why the Appellant ought to have been admitted to bail?
RESOLUTION: IN APPELLANT’S FAVOUR. (The Appellant is admitted to bail).
[THE ACCUSED IS ENTITLED TO BAIL; HE HAS STAYED TOO LONG IN CUSTODY FOR AN ALLEGATION TAKING TIME TO PROVE
‘Where an accused is charged of murder, he may be granted bail where: (a) “That facts of deposition shows that at the time of the commission of the crime he is so far away from the scene of the crime unless it is proved or shown that he can be in more than one place at the same time. (b) Where it is shown that the accused is suffering from such a debilitating disease or infirmity that he needs very urgent medical attention without which he will be in danger or losing his life particularly where it is shown that confinement would generally aggravate his condition. (c) Where there has been inordinate delay in bringing the accused to trial – a state of affair which will either result in the accused staying longer in prison than the conviction and sentence and make reasonable people conclude that there has been a violation of the accused’s constitutional rights by a subtle manipulation by use of courts sometimes incomprehensible procedures. I have in this judgment refused to look at the proceedings before the 1st trial Court but not the proofs of evidence. I have enough material to show that the accused has suffered considerably for an allegation which is lasting more than a decade to prove. Shall this Court support his confinement. I think not. In the circumstances the appeal succeeds and the Ruling of the learned Judge is set aside.’
‘From the facts of this case the appellant has been standing trial for 8 years and it is not known how long his trial will continue. By this subsection of the Constitution, it is mandatory that he be released on bail while facing his trial.’]
‘I hereby order as follows; that accused is granted bail in the sum of N250,000.00 with one Surety in same amount. The Surety shall be a person of means and be owner of built-up property in Owerri or any urban area in Imo State and he shall swear to an affidavit of means.’
➥ FURTHER DICTA:
⦿ AN ACCUSED PERSON PRESUMED GUILTY SHOULD NOT BE UNNECESSARILY REMANDED IN CUSTODY
An accused person is not in jurisprudence a person presumed guilty but is given the benefit of being innocent until the contrary is proved. This pre-supposes that he is not to be bounded or be punished or remanded in custody for an unnecessarily long time without a reasonable cause to defeat the course of justice. In other words, he has to be treated humanely and given all the constitutional rights that are allowed to a citizen. — Pats-Acholonu JCA.
⦿ PRINCIPLE BEHIND THE GRANT OF BAIL
What is the principle governing the grant of bail. What it might be asked is the accused’s right of bail. It is to be stated that in virtually all civilised countries where the rule of law reigns supreme, the procedural law does not rest upon any priori sentimentality about the criminal act. Indeed the great Jurists and lawmakers and the framers of the constitution who in their different activities fashioned our laws were not and are not motivated or animated by any particular softness towards the lawbreakers. The basis behind all the procedures which ensure adequate reasonable safeguards is not rooted in coddling the criminal or any miscreant or indeed treat his alleged nefarious act with kid gloves. It is not equally to ensure that there are large and enough veritable loopholes by which he can effect his escape from the consequences of the result of his evil act. Rather it is to preserve our heritage for freedom; that a person accused is not detained for the purpose of making him suffer indignity, and that it is effectively to make certain as nearly as the complexity and perplexity of our world will permit that the truth will be discovered and that justice will be done. It therefore does not rest on a misguided and naïve unrequited emotionalism. — Pats-Acholonu JCA.
⦿ IN OUR COUNTRY, COURTS SHOULD BE CAUTIOUS IN REMANDING ACCUSED
In a country such as ours where there is so much inter-ethnic animosity and hatred, the court ought to be cautious in remanding accused persons in custody unless there is some substantial evidence in support of allegations of crime against them because it is so easy for an enemy to make a false allegation of murder or robbery against a citizen to keep him out of circulation. — J.O. Ogebe JCA.
➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
C. Pats-acholonu, J.C.A.
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT(S)
Emeka Emegano, Esq.
⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT(S)
➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS
➥ REFERENCED (LEGISLATION)
➥ REFERENCED (CASE)
⦿ MURDER AND BAIL; IT MAY NOT BE PROPER TO KEEP ACCUSED IN CUSTODY JUST BECAUSE MURDER IS ALLEGED AGAINST HIM
In the case of Christian Diogu v. The Commissioner of Police (2000) 1 K.L.R. (Pt. 94) 195 the appellant was charged for conspiracy and murder before the Chief Magistrate’s Court, Onitsha. The Chief Magistrate remanded the appellant in custody. He applied to the High Court for a bail. The High Court dismissed his application on the ground that it would not be in public interest to admit the applicant to bail. The applicant then appealed to the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division. The Court of Appeal in granting bail was of the view that it would be dangerous to merely arrest citizens of this country on allegation of murder without substantial facts in support and keep them in custody merely because they are being accused of murder. From the facts of that case the prosecution did not even provide the court with proof of evidence to show that there was a prima facie case of murder against the appellant.
➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)