Although the Nigerian constitution didn’t say women cannot apply for bail or stand as sureties, the reality was until recently different in Kano state, where women could neither stand as sureties nor bail detainees from police custody, which constituted a key inhibition for access justice.
The new Administration of Criminal Justice Law (ACJL) in the state has now given women the right to bail accused persons and stand as sureties. Bail, a process in which a person alleged to have committed an offense is released temporarily with the assurance that the accused would appear in court or a police station for further examination, whenever their presence is required.
This new development was made known by law experts speaking at a one-day sensitization and awareness building workshop for 150 Civil Society Organizations from Kano north senatorial district, on the new Kano state criminal justice law. The workshop was organised by the Kano Civil Society Forum (KCSF) with support from the European Union-funded Rule of Law and Anti – Corruption (RoLAC) Programme.
RoLAC is focused on reforming the criminal justice system at the federal level and in five focal states, namely: Adamawa, Anambra, Edo, Kano, and Lagos; it is being implemented by the British Council.
Barrister Maryam Ahmad, a human rights lawyer, noted that under the new Administration of Criminal Justice Law in Kano state, women who are denied the right to apply for bail or stand as a surety could take the law enforcement officer denying them the right to do so to court and sue them for discrimination, which is frowned upon by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
The new ACJL which came into effect in 2019 is aimed at achieving a speedy dispensation of criminal justice in Kano state; it grants a woman the right to apply for bail for a defendant which may be her husband, relative or anyone else, and can also stand as a surety if she can comply with the bail conditions.
Halima Suleiman, president of Inter-Party Women’s Network of Kano State (IPWN), a bipartisan network of Kano women politicians focused on supporting women’s political participation and representation in the state, said: “This is a great opportunity for women and I pray this law will be acted upon by the authorities. With this law in place, it is our duty as women to pass this message to other women so that our voice can be heard.”
“I recall a situation whereby my neighbor’s son was arrested but she couldn’t bail him because of her gender and unfortunately, her husband wasn’t in the country at the time. Until she found a man who helped her out, she wasn’t able to bail her son. This new law allowing female sureties is a great achievement for women,” she added.
Asmau Abdullahi, executive director of the nonprofit Women Advancement Initiative, says if the ACJL works, “It will be a very good thing for women because they have been deprived of the right to either bail or stand as sureties for their loved ones or people in their community, simply because they are women. If this is actualized, it will be a good thing because most women will benefit from the new ACJL.”
Heads of state and government of African countries Thursday proffered solutions to the con…