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Federal High Court, Abuja, presided over by Justice Gabriel Kolawole will on Wednesday, April 13, 2016, hear the suit filed by an Abuja based lawyer and former Commissioner for Information in Abia State, Dr. ACB Agbazuere against the Attorney General of the Federation/Minister of Justice and the National Assembly, challenging some sections of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 which he contended were contrary to the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).
The case was earlier fixed for March 29 but was postponed to the new date.
In a hearing notice signed by the court registrar and dated March 29, 2016, it stated that the Suit No/FHC/ABJ/CS/889/2015 would be heard at the said court at 9am and enjoined all parties to the case to be present in court.
On November 2, 2015, the constitutional lawyer dragged the defendants to the Federal High Court, Abuja, over the newly promulgated Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which is one of those signed into law early last year by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
In an originating summons in 2015, the lawyer and human rights activist 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 a defendant or his surety before bail is approved, which he said is 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 should be presumed innocent until proven guilty.
In a 17-paragraph affidavit he deposed to in support of the suit, Dr. Agbazuere argued that the provisions of the new law ran contrary to the 1999 constitution and that if allowed to exist, meant a Nigerian citizen who had no money or other security would be deprived of his right to bail and would not have his bail approved and 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 cited copiously earlier judgments by both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court to support the suit.


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