Muaz Magaji: Lawyer slams Magistrate for denying bail in ‘bailable offence’
Any Magistrate or Judge who is in the habit of refusing bail in offences that are ordinarily bailable needs to re-assess himself.
A Nigeria-based online news medium NigerianSketch quoted a Lagos-based lawyer, Nataniel Salifu Olijeh, to have said it is wrong and “even immoral” for judges to deny a defendant his fundamental human right without just cause.
He said “it is a gross misunderstanding of the law for a judge to think bail is simply discretionary. A judge doesn’t have right to deny bail unless the offence is not ordinarily bailable. Bail is a right, and you don’t deny it except with cogent reason. In addition, the condition of bail should be light.
“I really think there is something really wrong with some of our Magistrates. I also want to advice that our courts should be conscious of the tricks of our politicians who are turning them into instruments to silence their political opponents.
“I am not sating that the defendant should not be prosecuted and I am not saying that he may not be found guilty. I am saying he is presumed innocent at this stage, and it is the court, more than anyone that should preserve his presumption of innocence.
“But when the court is quick to deny bail where the offence is bailable, there is the need to have a closer look at that Magistrate’s mindset. We are really in serious mess when our courts become ready tools of oppression because, to me, that court has just suppressed a person’s right for no just cause. It is sad. It is sad,” he said.
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