My Grouse: Who Invented “Charge and Bail”? Let’s Derobe Some Lawyers!

Bail is Free

 “No matter the economy of the jungle I can NEVER eat grass It’s not pride, it’s just who I am” – Lion!

I will not stop venting because I am just too passionate about legal practice. I love this profession. I love well groomed lawyers who carry themselves with prestige and candor. The only time I hear people call someone arrogant and it excites me is when they call a lawyer arrogant and I turn to see a well groomed gentleman! That is who we are! Deal with it!

To the matter that I want to address today, whoever invented this phrase charge and bail? I mean how did it all start? To the extent that people of the world have learnt to equate incompetence with “charge and bail” And as lawyers we join them to also do. When did going to magistrate court to get a person’s bail become ignoble?

Walahi ta lahi this thing is paining me gaaaan! Two experiences I want to use to buttress my vent: I met a potential client and while we were discussing he began to tell me his history with court and court practices. Next he went “I didn’t know barrister XYZ was a charge and bail lawyer. He really messed up my life…” No matter my effort to explain what charge and bail mean (as if I know self), his mind was made up. Charge and Bail is bad lawyer!

The issue is not so much  about the people who do not appreciate the enormous hardwork put into becoming a lawyer as it is about the ones that bring this disrepute to themselves. I mean, LLB and BL are obtained through the same means naw! It is not like there is a lesser exam for qualifying to be charge and bail lawyer. That brings me to the second live case:

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I walked into a Magistrate Court in Lagos and was accosted by this woman and she asked; do you need a lawyer?  To me, it was a mix of shock and other things, so I asked spontaneously “what did you just say?  And she responded more assertively “do you need someone to appear for you? Did they arrest your person? My curiosity took over and I said “oh yes”, and she said “I can do that for you” and she added “Including getting you a surety when the bail is granted”. I asked again my curiosity reaching heights now, “so where is the lawyer, and she gave a grin and said “I am”, I looked at her from top to toe, she was dirty and shabbily dressed on a pair of pants! (Biko have they started allowing female lawyers to wear pants at magi court?) So I asked, “you? You  are a lawyer?” I made sure not to hide the disdain looks, (The thing is, I don’t know how to tolerate any excuse for being dirty and shabbily dressed. It need not be expensive!)  She must have seen a lot of such looks and must have also developed a defence mechanism because if she really saw my looks she pretended well not to have noticed . “Yes I am a lawyer, don’t worry, you are in safe hands.  I have been helping people with their bail since over 10 years. I will make sure I perfect the bail today or at most tomorrow morning. But it would cost you a lot of money. We have to give a lot of people money to facilitate things.”  I asked  “so how much are we looking at here?”  And she goes “my own is 20k, for the others like police, registrars, magistrate, sureties,  it is when bail is granted and we know the bail condition.” I probed further, “give me a rough estimate, how much should we be looking at?” She said “ if I have to find sureties you have to pay o. may be like 100k to 150k” and I asked “ and your own bill is 20k?”  she gave a shrug  and said “I just want to help you”.  Indeed! She hasn’t even asked what the nature of the offence was, she doesn’t even know who “my person” is. All she needed was the fact that I came in at the same time as the prison bus was driving into the court with the accused persons.

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You see, the whole essence of this vent today isn’t about charge and bail as a practice.  By all means practice as a charge and bail lawyer, it is noble, it is part of a lawyer’s job to bail when the court charges a person. But do you have to reflect everything ignoble? Dressing shabbily, and doing all sorts of illegal stuff? Imagine a lawyer going to the extent of being an agent of institutionalizing bribery and criminality. If Magistrate has given condition for bail, na you suppose bother your head about meeting the condition? You follow them commit the crime? How do you explain helping client to source for “professional surety? Is that the price you can place on your LLB and BL certificates?  And all of  these in the name of survival?

Mbok let me leave it here. I am having headache.

My Grouse – venting my frustrations!


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