OGUN CJ CALLS FOR RESPECTED JUDICIAL SYSTEMNovember 27, 2023
MAG CT MOWE – BEFORE HIS WORSHIP: D. O. KOLAWOLE-OGUNBOWALE (MRS.).November 28, 2023
Towards ensuring timely decongestion of Correctional formations in Ogun State, the adoption of the Bondsmen Licencing Scheme has enabled freedom of over two thousand eight hundred (2,800) defendants who were on bail between January 2021 and October 2023.
The Chief Judge of Ogun State, Hon. Justice (Dr.) Mosunmola Dipeolu who revealed this in her welcome address at the 1st Bondsmen Stakeholders’ Forum held at the Judiciary Complex in Abeokuta, noted that not less than five hundred inmates (500) have been released through the regular jail delivery exercise between 2018 –till date.
Hon. Justice Dipeolu stated further that the licensed bondsmen scheme which was conceptualised in 2020 was set up to cleanse up the existing bail system which had become ridden with corruption, inefficiency and perversion of the cause of Justice with so many defendants jumping bail and evading arrests through the use of touts and fraudsters who present fake documents to deceive the courts to secure the bail of defendants.
According to the Chief Judge, “the bondsmen are entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring that individuals accused of offences have the opportunity to secure the release from custody while awaiting trials”
His Lordship also disclosed that “by 2021, the first license had been issued to Chrysalis bail and bond limited, we now have two licensed bondsmen who are operational in the State, as Egba Kelisco bail and bond limited also came on board in May 2023.”
Commending the efforts of the bonds companies in the State, the Chief Judge, pointed that they have contributed in no small measure to ease the problems of congestion at the correctional facilities.
Admonishing stakeholders at the forum, Hon. Justice Mosunmola Dipeolu advised them to embrace the innovation and stay abreast of the ever evolving legal landscape, remain in unwavering to commitment to ethical standards and professional conduct.
Chairman of the Bondsmen Licensing Board, Hon. Justice Abiodun Akinyemi, in his speech, stated that the bondsmen regulation and practice direction 2020 was issued on 16th June 2020 to the provision of section 506, 195 and 196 of the Administration of Criminal Justice and other related matters law of Ogun State, 2017.
Adding that, “section 195 & 196 of the ACJL 2017 in particular provide the statutory foundation or enterprise upon which the scheme exists”.
According to the Chairman, other benefits the bondsmen scheme adds to the administration of the criminal justice include, upholding the presumption of innocence, mitigating overcrowding in detention facilities, reducing pre-trial detention, encouraging court appearances, encouraging rehabilitation and support, promoting transparency and efficiency and facilitating legal proceedings.
Bondsmen Scheme which is considered as a valuable tool in the pursuit of a fair and compassionate Justice System, according to the Chairman, has demonstrated its commitment to justice, community well-being and the principles that underpin a strong and united society.
Hon. Justice Akinyemi therefore urged all critical stakeholders to improve the Bondsmen Scheme and deepen it to the extent that it becomes reference point in the country.
Statistically, Akinyemi, revealed that only 25 defendants have absconded between January 2021 & October 2023 while 16 have been re-arrested and a total of 23 defendants who opted to pay the bail sum as deposits to the bondsmen have had their funds refunded to them in full within 24hours of the conclusion of their cases.
Speaking on behalf of the registered licensed bondsmen agents practicing in Ogun state, Managing Director of Chrysalis bail and bond limited, Mr Valentine Ofia, appreciated the vision and mission of the Hon. Chief Judge of the State, Hon. Justice (Dr.) Mosunmola Dipeolu in this regard which is aimed at reducing the problems of congestion in the correctional facilities.
Also, the Bond Administrator, Mr Olakunlehin Oke submitted that any challenges encountered with the bonds companies should be reported to the Bond Administrator’s office at the Judiciary Complex, emphasising that “the law remains that bail terms are at the discretion of the court and that the bondsmen had not come to replace lawyers but to relieve the burden on legal practitioners as it concerned the perfection of the bail terms granted by the court.
Stakeholders present at the forum include the Hon. Judges of the High Court of Ogun State, Magistrates, Ogun State Commissioner of Police represented by ASP Ayo Edun (Adatan Area Commander), Director from the Ministry of Justice, Members of the five branches of the NBA in Ogun State, Police Prosecutors of the Magistrate Court, and the two bondsmen Agents practicing in Ogun State.