A client called me earlier today to ask me about the legal implications of him standing in as guarantor for the bail of a friend who was arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for money laundering, tax evasion, and other related offenses.
He is worried about making such a commitment of using his house as bail security and also depositing his international passport with the EFCC which are some of the requirements for standing as a guarantor or surety for the accused person and according to him, he is not quite close to the friend and cannot vouch that once he is granted bail he won’t try to flee the country.
Bail simply put is the temporary release of an accused person who is awaiting trial, sometimes on the condition that a sum of money or other properties is lodged to guarantee their appearance in court or always present themselves to the law enforcement agencies whenever they are called upon and that a person (or persons) stands as a guarantor for the accused person.
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Sometimes, individuals get asked by friends, colleagues, and families to stand in as a guarantor or surety for their bail and some people do not really appreciate the legal implications of standing in as a guarantor or surety for an accused person.
Before you stand in as a guarantor or surety for an accused person, you need to ask yourself if you trust that the person you standing in for as a surety will not flee the country or abscond when granted bail or will he always be available whenever he’s called upon. If you are not sure about these then don’t do it because you will be putting yourself into a problem.
Know that a surety undertakes to provide security for the release of the accused and as well promises that the accused honors the terms of the bail agreement by appearing in court as required. This implies that if the accused person elopes or decides to jump bail, you as the guarantor will be held responsible and it’s either you provide the accused or you will be made to lose your guarantor’s sum or any other security you deposited, in some cases, you could be arrested or detained till the accused person presents himself.
So the professional legal advice on this is that you should only accept to stand as a surety or guarantor to an accused person when you are sure that the suspect will not jump bail or disappear because if the suspect absconds or “jumps bail” then you the surety forfeits the security you provided for the bail.