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Group faults verification of sureties by police, EFCC

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Group faults verification of sureties by police, EFCC

A group known as Vanguard for Judicial Independence has faulted prosecuting agencies’ verification of sureties for bail.

The group said that  the practice was unconstitutional.

The group made this known in a statement signed by its Convener, Mr Douglas Ogbankwa, in Lagos.

According to the group, it is unconstitutional for the court to direct law enforcement agencies such as the police and  Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to verify sureties of defendants.

”It offends the principle of “pacta sunt servanda” (no man shall be judge in his own cause), for prosecutors to be asked to verify sureties of defendants in a criminal prosecution.

”What it means is that a court that asks the EFCC or police or others to verify sureties has not just taken sides in the matter, but has surrendered the sovereignty of the court to another party,” he said.

According to Ogbankwa, such an action offends Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution as amended, which provides that the court should be constituted in a way and manner that guarantees its independence and impartiality.

”Fair hearing is not just fairness in the hearing of a matter, but fairness in the procedures observed before a verdict is reached.

”Justice is a three way traffic: justice for the state, justice for the defendant and justice for the complainant.

”Any unfair advantage given to any party, negates the values of justice depicted by the statue of justice which is blind and has a balanced scale,” he said.

According to him, some  prosecutors may utilise their positions over  defendants in a way and manner that makes the bail process too rigorous.

”There are defendants who remain in custody for close to one year because of this avoidable legal hiccups,” he said.

Ogbankwa urged the judiciary to review the process of verification of sureties to put it in proper context.

He also urged courts to adopt liberal conditions of bail so as to save defendants from staying long in custody due to inability to perfect their bails.

Group faults verification of sureties by police, EFCC

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