In this article, I will show you the necessary steps to take during and after an arrest in Nigeria. As part of our #KnowYourRight campaign, we are proud to enlightening Nigerian citizens of their rights and necessary steps they should take after an arrest has been made pending when trial is about to begin.
The Nigeria Police force are charged with the protection of lives and properties of individuals in the country. For this reason they have been granted powers to arrest individuals whom they are of the opinion have committed a crime or evidence has been brought to their knowledge of the fact that such individual has committed a crime or has knowledge that could be quite useful in the solving of a case and the apprehension of a criminal.
As individuals you also have rights after being arrested because an arrest doesn’t automatically make you a criminal but a suspect. The law expressly states that an individual can’t be adjudged guilty unless a court of competent jurisdiction has ruled on the case and found him guilty. This provision is in line with Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution.
There are various rights available to an individual on arrest pending when trial is about to commence and they include:
1. Police bail
Upon application by the accused, The Police may release a suspect on bail pending further investigation.
Sections 17 of the C.P.A, 129 of the C.P.C, and 27 of the Police Act authorize the grant of bail by the police pending the trial of the accused person except in respect of capital offenses.
It is worthy of note that at this point, bail is completely free and you should not be charged for this bail as it is your right.
2. Period to be kept at the station
An individual who was arrested shall not be kept in a police station for more than 24 hours in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40kms.
In any other case , 48 hours (two days) or any longer period, which given the circumstances of the case, the court considers reasonable.
This position is in reliance to the right of self liberty that has been allocated to every individual and backed up by section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria.
3. Right to remain silent
A person who has been arrested for the commission of a crime has the right to remain silent and it is even in his best interests to not speak when he is being questioned or asked to make a statement.
At this point it is best to contact a lawyer immediately so as to not say anything that would not help your case should they decide to take you to court.
However if you feel you do not need a Lawyer at this point, you can waive this right and make your statement without consultation with a lawyer. This position is in line with Section 35(2) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria.
5. Informed of the nature of the crime
It is also your right to be informed of the reason why you are being arrested, you are not mandated to accompany a Police officer to the station if he doesn’t disclose the offense which you are being arrested for.
If such an individual doesn’t understand English language, the nature of the offense he’s being arrested for should be explained to him in a language which he understands.This position is in line with the provisions of Section 35(3) of the Constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria.
6. Presentation of arrest warrant
Warrant of arrest is a very essential tool in the hand of the Police and he is required to present a warrant of arrest to you.
An individual should request for a warrant of arrest from the officer arresting him. However, if a citizen is being arrested in the course of committing a crime, he has no right to request for an arrest warrant.
7. Resistance of arrest
It is in your best interest to try as much as possible to not resist arrest from the Police. Resistance would only complicate issues for you and make matters worse and possibly give them basis to feel you are hiding the truth from them.
8. Lack of uniform and Identity
If an officer arrests you without his uniform, he is required to identify himself. However if he fails to do so, the individual has the right to request that the officer present to him a valid means of identification displaying the exact law enforcement agency he is representing.
9. Compensation after Unlawful arrest
If it is discovered on evidence presented that an individual was arrested illegally, the individual that was arrested shall be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority or person. This is in line with the provisions of Section 35(6) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
10. Name of Police station
An individual that is being arrested should quickly inquire from the Police officers the name of the station which he is being carried to. This information is necessary so that his family, relatives and lawyer would be able to easily locate him and post his bail in the process.
All the afore-mentioned points are the rights of an individual when he is being arrested and necessary steps he should take as well in the course of an arrest.
As essential as these information is, it is worthy of note that they do not equate the services of a Lawyer; for this purpose, if an individual is arrested, he should try as much as possible to get in contact with his lawyer or ask his relatives to help him get one. If you need any assistance on this topic kindly contact us.
If it’s going to impossible to procure the services of a lawyer due to lack of adequate finances, you can proceed to the legal aid department that’s in your state and ask for representation as their services are free and without cost.
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