Authorities of the Nigeria Police Force have over the years been singing to the high heavens that “bail is free” for any crime suspect arrested in connection with bailable offence. They would want to go to any length particularly in public events to announce it as a way of attracting some good will.
Regrettably, it is not news that beyond the open space declaration of bail being free, is the enduring regime of corrupt enrichment from exploitation of detainees who are eager to secure their release.
The average police officer or policeman who stands as an Investigating Police Officer (IPO) in any crime related case is often in a position to decide how fast or otherwise, a detainee on bailable offence can be released on bail.
SECURITY REPORTERS.com investigation reveals that some matters that would ordinarily not warrant the detention of an accused or suspect, the IPOs would choose to create an impression that the so-called accused or suspect who is in the police net by way of arrest or invitation has a serious case to answer.
Some delay tactics are usually employed in some cases that can ordinarily be dispensed off in a matter of hours if our system is working. Regrettably, that is not the case, all in the name of on-going investigation which is nothing but attempt to keep the person in detention for a night or more.
The situation becomes worse if the accused does not have anyone who can promptly come to intervene on his behalf. Even when some accused have people who can easily wade into the matter on their behalf, some IPOs would devise some means to create the impression that there is more to the matter than the intervener has known. It is only when one meets a God-fearing IPO that issues are explained without any ambiguity.
It is increasingly becoming worrisome that no matter how innocent an accused is, his release on bail will never go without cash dropping for the IPO and his bosses.
We have recorded cases of mass arrest of people reportedly in connection with one crime or the other. After investigations with no incriminating evidence against all or some of them, rather than allow them to go on bail with sureties standing for them, the IPOs have often resorted to asking for money in different guise.
There are cases where an IPO comes from another state police command or special unit like old SARS, the Intelligence Response Team, Federal Investigation Bureau etc., after investigation and with no incriminating evidence, the suspect is asked to offset the travelling expenses of the IPO with the lame excuse that police authorities did not make provision for his travelling. Some IPOs would go to the extent of asking the suspect to offset his accommodation cost before he finally secures his bail.
Ordinarily, any discernible mind would want to distastefully see the Nigeria Police Force as an institution of corrupt personnel. Over the years, such has been the perception and rightly too. However, this ugly side of the police is not entirely their making. The society has made it so. We live in a country where political leaders see any other institution of state as secondary in terms of priority.
Over the years, the poor funding of the police has often been an issue in the public space which ultimately led to the recently enacted law establishing the Nigeria Police Trust Fund. Activities of the Trust Fund are yet to impact on the Force and its personnel but even if there comes a relief, are the police personnel ready to make a paradigm shift?
Would the police personnel truly see bail as free and accord suspects on bailable offence the right of securing their release without paying for their bail?
Our police seriously need re-orientation and this can only be actualised with the political will of our leaders who in the first place created the dilemma in which the police and their victims have found themselves.
With a new Sheriff in town as they say, the time is now when “Bail is free” maxim should be moved from deceptive perceptive to that of reality. So, the people shall see that “Police” is truly their “friend” and by extension, the people shall have more confidence and willingly offer information and assistance to tje Police without fear.