KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WRONGFUL ARREST

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WRONGFUL ARREST

  • How many of you watch Nollywood movies? Whether you are one who intentionally sits through the beautiful movies churned out by the country’s Film industry or you are one who stumbles upon a scene or more, one thing is glaring. It is that the mode of arrest usually being portrayed is very wrong!

Come to think of it though? I am yet to see a movie scene where the Police got the arrest of a person or persons right. That should, however, not be surprising as an imitation of real life cannot fall short of what happens in the real world. And in an everyday Nigerian real world, the way the Nigerian Police conduct arrest is nothing short of hilarious most times.

Not everyone may come in on the joke though as life in a Police cell is clearly not a joke neither is it funny when a job-seeking graduate is bound up with some other people in the name of being part of a gang. The hilarity is also lost to a woman who has her little kiosk shut down and she herself locked up in a cell because her husband who supposedly committed a crime is nowhere to be found.

In movies, at the scene of an arrest, the Police comes to arrest an individual and handcuff is put on the person. That is actually wrong legally.

A person arrested shall not be handcuffed, otherwise bound or be subjected to unnecessary restraint except by order of the court, a magistrate or justice of the peace or unless there is reasonable apprehension of violence or of an attempt to escape or unless the restraint is considered necessary for the safety of the person arrested s4 of Criminal Procedure Act

See how this provision of the Law is a far outcry from what is obtained in the movies we watch and even in reality.

The Nigeria Police in Nollywood movies, especially Yoruba ones always refuse to disclose the offence of the person being arrested. A request by such a person to have the offence disclosed to him or her is usually met with the reply that he or she will know when they all arrive at the station. This is not meant to be so in every situation.

First, you can ask the Police if you are being arrested and if it is affirmed that you are, you have the right to demand the reason for the arrest.

It is provided for by s5 of the Criminal Procedure Act that except when the person being arrested is in the actual course of the commission of a crime or when such is being pursued immediately after the commission of a crime or escape from lawful custody, the police officer or other person making the arrest shall inform the person being arrested of the cause of the arrest.

This brings us to another twist in the knowledge of your rights as it pertains to arrest by the Nigeria Police. Did you know that you can arrest someone yourself if you are at the scene of the crime?

This can be done when you can successfully apprehend the person on your own and when you are of the reasonable belief that without immediate action and the police not being there anytime soon, the culprit will escape. Thus, you can be your own police in that sense. There is the caveat, however, that you are to deliver the person arrested to the appropriate authority as soon as you can. You are not, in any way, expected to take laws into your hands.

It is, also, wrong for a police officer to remove anybody’s necessary wearing apparel found on him or her during arrest as seen in s 6(1) of Criminal Procedure Act.

It is important to note that a police officer cannot arrest you simply because he or she suspects you of having committed a crime. There must be ‘reasonable and probable’ cause for such suspicion otherwise it can amount to a wrongful arrest.

Anyone being arrested by a police officer who feels it is wrongful can resist such arrest. That person being wrongfully arrested can tell the officer that it is wrongful. And once that statement is made, the officer has to demand that the person present evidence that the arrest is wrongful. If the evidence presented proves that the arrest is indeed wrongful, then the officer cannot lawfully arrest such a person. If, however, no evidence is presented when demanded by the officer, then the person being arrested must cooperate with police entirely. The resistance of arrest must not be violent or harmful to the officer in any way.

Despite these laws and the obvious prohibition of wrongful arrest, it is no news that wrongful arrest is perpetuated every day in Nigeria. Now that you know what wrongful arrest is and a person’s right against wrongful arrest, it should be stated clearly that a person wrongfully arrested can sue for a variety of different compensations. Some of these compensations include damages for lost wages, damage to reputation, embarrassment, physical harm caused during or as a consequence of the wrongful arrest, illness incurred during or as a consequence of the wrongful arrest and a host of other compensations provided for by Law.

There is no guilt by association. Therefore, the Police cannot threaten the family or friends of an individual who is a suspect in a crime or take the family member into custody and use that as a bargaining tool. It is very wrong and it amounts to illegal detention or kidnapping at a minimum on the part of the police.

Now you know the extent of your rights as it pertains to arrest. Movie producers in Nigeria should take note of these rights because we expect, in fact, demand, that arrest scenes be in tandem with the realities of Law.

5 thoughts on “KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WRONGFUL ARREST

  1. Thank you for this write up. I’ve been enlightened.
    I have a question from one of the paragraphs :
    ‘Anyone being arrested by a police officer who feels it is wrongful can resist such arrest. That person being wrongfully arrested can tell the officer that it is wrongful. And once that statement is made, the officer has to demand that the person present evidence that the arrest is wrongful. If the evidence presented proves that the arrest is indeed wrongful, then the officer cannot lawfully arrest such a person. If, however, no evidence is presented when demanded by the officer, then the person being arrested must cooperate with police entirely. The resistance of arrest must not be violent or harmful to the officer in any way’.

    Can you please give examples of the evidence(s) that could be presented in the case of wrongful arrest.
    A case scenario will be appreciated.
    Thank you.

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