By Douglas Ogbankwa Esq

In the course of my job as a  lawyer ,I have come across several cases , where Law Enforcement  Officers arrest people because they signed  a purported commitment called ,”Surety Known To Me”., which is not a crime encapsulated  in any written law Any where in Nigeria.

To situate the issues better , one of the components  of the Rule of Law,  is legality : that is to say  Enforcement  of the law must be contingent on the existence  of a crime in a codified law .It is codification  of a crime ,that establishes same.


What does the word “know” mean?


Meaning of the Word “Know”:


*To have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with.Example is “He knew and respected Laura”*.


How can it possibly be that ” to

have developed a relationship with (someone) through meeting and spending time with them; be familiar or friendly with” possibly be a  crime known to Law in Nigeria?


To know a person is not a crime , it is a social skill  .Let us not turn Law Enforcement  into a joke or some thing that occurs according to our whims and caprices .It will dimish the respect that individuals and institutions have for Law Enforcement in Nigeria.


The Leadership of Law Enforcement  Agencies in Nigeria,  should therefore give instructions to all their formations to stop this very embarrassing  occurence .The grant of Bail is as provided  for by Law and that Law does not even give Agencies the powers to impose Conditions .


The Administration of Criminal  Justice Law ,(2015 ) on the grant or refusal  of Bail provides thus :


*Section 158 Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015

When a person who is suspected to have committed an offence or is accused of an offence is arrested or detained, or appears or is brought before a court, he shall, subject to the provisions of this Part, be entitled to bail*.


The provision of the Law as indicated above ,is the only thing that the Law allows Law enforcement  agencies to do .


Bail is not a privilege , it is a Constitutional Right .It is provided for in Section 36 , Chapter  4 of the Constitution  of the Federal  Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended).


As earlier  indicated , for a person to be arrested,  you must have  committed  a crime provided for by Law .In a Particular  Case , Romanus Okafor Esq., of the NBA Benin Branch , got damages against some Law Enforcement  Agents for him being held for about 2 hours for the non existent crime of “Surety  Known to Me”.The Court  granted him 200 thousand naira as damages ,  100 thousand Naira per hour.While executing the garnishe order granted later in the case , the court granted him an additional  one million Naira for Enforcement  of the Judgment,  which  was now to be borne by the Respondents.This will now be the case in Nigeria , if Law Enforcement Agencies , do not clean up their houses .


On the illegality  of Surety Known to me , Section 36 (8) of the Constitution  of Federal  Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (As Amended ), provides thus :


(8) No person shall be held to be guilty of a criminal offence on account of any act or omission that did not, at the time it took place, constitute such an offence, and no penalty shall be imposed for any criminal offence heavier than the penalty in force at the time the offence was committed.


From theanalysis espoused above , it is obvious  that there is no crime in  the Nigerian Jurisprudence with the appellation “Surety Known To Me”.This Practice must stop immediately and this can only be done by way of a circular by the Heads of Agencies to their subordinate .This will help stem the tide and stop the illegal harassment  and intimidation of innocent  citizens.

About the Author: Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.,  , is the Convener  of the Intellectual Hub,  Security  Situation Room  and President, Benin Writers’ Society.

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