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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

‘No law says women can’t stand surety, bail people’

‘No law says women can’t stand surety, bail people’

Civil society

A group of lawyers and members of the Civil Society Organisation in Nigeria, yesterday, disclosed that there was no known law in Nigeria, which stipulates that women could not stand as surety or bail people.

This was made known at a stakeholders’ interactive session held at Airport Hotel, Lagos State, to review the draft report of survey on the implementation by the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) of the Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice (Repeal & Re-Enactment Law No. 37 of 2011).

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The meeting was organised by the Network on Police Reform in Nigeria (NOPRIN), with support by the Open Society Justice Initiative (OSJI). The survey was conducted in Lagos State between the months of September and October, 2017.

Speaking at the session, Association Legal Officer Africa, OSJI, Mr Stanley Ibeh, said: “There’s no law anywhere in Nigeria, where women are disallowed from standing surety or bail people.

The ‘law’ just came up from nowhere and had been spread by some police people. Women can stand surety and take anyone on bail. When we asked some policemen while they don’t allow women to take bail or stand surety, they said women are irresponsible.”

The gathering also kicked against arrest of women in place of their husbands and children.

The survey report, presented by Raphael Mbaegbu of the Independent Research International, revealed that the Lagos State Police Command fared well in compliance with the State Criminal Justice Law in several areas.

It, however, revealed some level of non-compliance in certain areas like detention of suspects among others.

The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Edgal Imohimi, who was at the event, said: “What we do now is practical policing. We’re educating our men on what to do and what not to do. We’re slowly developing and we shall get there.

It’s not every arrest we do with warrant of arrest. We use warrant of arrest only in serious offences. We also arrest by proxy in high profile kidnapping.”

He stressed that there’s no police station that had right to detain suspects longer than the period stipulated by the law, especially since there’s a standing order that senior policemen in all stations and formations, should make it a point of duty to check and review suspects in detention every day.

Imohimi, who said that many policemen were not conversant with some laws of Lagos State, urged that copies of the laws should be made available to different police formations.

He noted: “The police are adherence to the rule of law and human right issues. If you find us doing anything wrong, please let us know.”

The national coordinator of NOPRIN, Okechukwu Nwanguma, praised Imohimi for his reforms in the state since he assumed office.

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Nwanguma said: “It’s been six years after the Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice (ACJL) and two years after the ACJA.

Various efforts have been on-going by different civil society organisations to review the implementation of both the ACJL in Lagos and the ACJA at the federal level with a view to determining how far the reforms introduced by these legislations have changed the landscape of criminal justice administration in Nigeria.

“The field research by NOPRIN to ascertain the level of awareness, compliance, implementation and enforcement of the ACJ by law enforcement officials –the Police and the Magistrates- is NOPRIN’s own contribution to the ongoing efforts.

Specifically, NOPRIN is reviewing the implementation by NPF of aspects of the Lagos ACJL that directly impact on NPF role during the pre-trial phase. This assignment is designed to identify gaps, acknowledge successes and recognize opportunities for improvement.”

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