The Rule of Law and Accountability Advocacy Centre (RULAAC) has condemned the act of receiving money from suspects by police officers, during bail application.
This is just as they called on the federal government to provide adequate funding for the police as panacea for bail money collection.
The Executive Director, RULAAC, Okechukwu Nwagwuma said this during a one-day civil society organisation/media engagement themed, ‘Nigeria Police Force (NPF) Bail Process and Citizens Rights’ recently organised by RULAAC in Lagos state, in partnership with the Nigeria Policing Program (NPP).
Nwanguma said the engagement was aimed at increasing public awareness on the NPF bail process, to clarify the rights of citizens, powers and duties of the police under the law.
According to him, “if we do not address the root cause of corruption, which includes poor funding, welfare and equipping the police, ‘bail is free’ may only be a cliché.
“You do not expect Divisional Police Officers (DPO’s), Area Commanders (AC’s) to use their salaries to run their stations. Divisions run on zero budgets. This is affecting the liberty of Nigerians as bail money collection is being used as a justification to run the station.
“There is no justification to deny people their liberty. The government should properly fund the police and the money should be judiciously used.”
Also speaking at the event, the President, Committee for the Defense of Human Rights (CDHR), Barr Malachy Ugwummadu said though the police may be underfunded, however, it is no justification to collect money for bail as the law of the land stipulates free bail.
According to him, “I am not supporting legalising bail money as a way of raising funds for the police. Underfunding the police should not be transferred to members of the public.”
Also speaking, the Executive Director, International Centre for Human Rights Nonviolence and Safety Awareness, Barr Sarah Unobe, posited that judicial corruption on bail would fuel bail money collection by the police.
According to her, “Some people prefer to give bail money to the police rather than giving the bail money in court which is usually tedious. The court collects more money from suspects in the name of the bail condition.
“Many people are inside different prisons today due to lack of capacity to meet bail conditions. Those in authorities should look into the court bail money.”
Also commenting on the issue of bail, senior police officers at the event blamed lawyers and the government for bail money collection.
According to them, “officers at the stations print the bail papers, arrest warrant, and any other document required to run a police station. We use our money to go to court to prosecute suspects, give money to prisons officials to convey suspects to prison and pay court clerks.
“Also, on some occasions, lawyers collect money from their clients and they lie that they will give such money to the police for bail.”
They however reinstate their commitment towards ensuring the eradication of paying for bail in the policing system, and thereby called on the support of all arms of the government.