LEGAL counsels representing the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF/ Minister of Justice and those for the National Assembly will on Monday adopt written addresses in a case instituted by an Abuja based constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Dr. ACB Agbazuere at the Federal High Court, Abuja challenging section165, sub- section 2 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which provides for deposit of cash by an accused person before his/ her bail will be approved which the lawyer contends is contrary to the provisions of section 36, sub-section 5 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution ( as Amended). The court is presided over by His Lordship Justice Gabriel Kolawole. The case Suit No/FHC/ ABJ/CS/889/2015 first came up on 13th April 2016. It was filed on 2nd November 2015, by the constitutional and public interest lawyer. The Act is one of those signed into law early last year by former president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, GCFR. The Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice and the National Assembly are defendants. At the last hearing of the case on May 25th 2016 , counsel to the National Assembly, Mr. Sabastine Hon, SAN, pleaded for adjournment on the excuse that he needed time to respond to the plaintiff’s written address and the court gave him seven days to do so. In an originating summons, Dr. Agbazuere is seeking the determination of the court on whether the provisions of section 165(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 to the effect that a court may require the deposit of sum of money or other security as the court may specify from the defendant or his surety before bail is approved, is not inconsistent with the provisions of section 36 (5) of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria ( 1999 as amended), to the effect that every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed innocent until proved guilty. In a 17 paragraph affidavit he deposed to in support of the suit, Dr. Agbazuere argued that the provisions of the new law runs contrary to the 1999 constitution
and that if allowed to exist, means a Nigerian citizen who has no money or other security will be deprived of his right to bail and will not have his bail approved and will therefore be sent to prison until he/she pays the money when he/she is yet to be tried for the offence. In the suit he stated that: “the law is settled that the provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is supreme and if any other law is inconsistent with the provisions of this Constitution, this Constitution shall prevail and that other law shall to the extent of its inconsistency be void by virtue of section 1(1) and (3) of the constitution. “That applicability of section 165(2) of the Administration of Criminal Act, 2015 will deprive Nigerian citizens of their liberty, freedom and fair hearing. “ With section 165(2) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, the accused is to pay money before his bail can be approved when the prosecution has neither proved the essential ingredients of the case not has the accused been found guilty. “By providing for the mandatory payment of money before bail is approved, section 165(2) of the Act has now presumed every person guilty when he has not been tried and found guilty. It is an aberration and ambush against the people and should not be allowed to stand. “At a time when the level of poverty in Nigeria is so alarming that the President has declared that Nigeria is broke and states cannot pay salaries to workers except with the aid of bailout funds (which are also loans), any legislation imposing payment of money on Nigerian citizens before their bail is approved is not only inconsistent with the intendment of section 36 (5) of the constitution but also a bad law as it is anti people. He referred to earlier judgments by both the court of Appeal and the Supreme Court to support the suit