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Legal Digest: Top 10 Things A Police Officer Should Never Say Or Do to A Citizen.

By Amos Uchenna Michael 

The End Sars protest has opened our eyes to the depth and intensity of police brutality in Nigeria. Some say the protest was a failure at achieving its purpose. On the contrary, those with deeper understanding have foreseen that the protest has watered the ground for a long-overdue revolution.

As a Nigerian citizen, the reason we are intimidated and cowered because we do not know our rights. This column published fortnightly will focus on teaching Nigerians their rights within the confines of the law. 

  1. The police can not arrest any person law of a suspect (i.e substitutional arrest) no matter the relationship with the suspect.  If your father commits a crime, you cannot be arrested in his stead. In Nigeria, we see police come to a house to arrest a father, when they cannot find him, they arrest his son to force him to come out. That is prohibited. See Sunday Odokwu V The state (2013) LPELR 22039 (CA) ACB V Okonkwo (1997) INWLR (PT.480) 194

2.The police can not arrest anyone to enforce a civil wrong. A civil wrong is different from a criminal offence. A civil wrong includes dispute between lovers, debt drive etc. This means the landlord cannot call the police to arrest you for owing rent. That is tantamount to intimidation from his part, and the police on their own part have no business being there. 

 Anogwie & Ors V Odon & Orcs (2016) LPELR _40214 (CA) Diamond Bank V Opara &Ors ( 2018 )

  1. The police while granting administrative bail must not refuse to accept a surety based on gender. Any human is worthy of being a surety. Male, female, gay, otherwise. Your gender or sexuality should not stop you from being a surety provided you meet the legal and financial standings stipulated. see S 167 (3) ACJA
  2. Police cannot arrest a reasonable suspicion Okorodu V Oteri (1970) ANLR 199 at( 203). We see this often, once there is robbery, the police will go to the area and pick up passersby and bystanders with no iota of suspicion to the crime. This is unacceptable, however, our reality as Nigerians. 
  3. A police officer no matter the rank cannot issue a warrant of arrest of any citizen. See  S 36 (1) ACJA. Sequel to the previous point, the only person(s) capable of calling for your arrest is a judge or a magistrate in a court of competent jurisdiction.  
  4. The police cannot subject anyone to torture, degrading, and other inhumane breakment (S) S 34, Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 ( as amended). At this point, Nigerian police left the WhatsApp group. The level of inhumane treatment witnessed in the various cells cannot be overemphasized. 
  5. The police cannot detain anyone for longer than 48 hours or 24 hours ( where a court is within 40km) without a court order _ S. 35 1999 FRN (as amended)

8.The police have no power to search anyone’s premises without first obtaining a search warrant from either a magistrate or a High Court judge duly served on the suspect. Dasuki v. the Federal Republic of Nigeria. ECW/CCJ/JUD23/16)2016.

#EndSARS: IGP Probes Suit Challenging Legality Of States’ Judicial Panel

9.Police has no right to brutalize a suspect upon arrest. However, the exception is when he is violent or resisting arrest in any way. Section 34(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended.

10.Right to remain silent upon arrest. Upon arrest, a suspect may choose to say something or write what he knows about the case in issue. But, he can also choose to say nothing until a Lawyer of his choice is around.

Knowledge is power, we hope that the spread of this information guides us towards a new Nigeria

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