How You Can Prevent The Nigeria Police From Abusing Your Rights (2)

You’ll recall that in the first part of this article, we have discussed what your rights are and the limits of the powers of the police. Now, let’s address what you can do whenever your rights are about to be breached or are being breached. In the third part, we’ll address what you can do where your rights are already breached.

What You Can Do If Your Rights Are About To Be Or Being Breached

The case of Tola, my nephew, comes handy again. The police officer asked him to prove his ownership of the laptop found in the boot of his car or else he would be arrested and taken to the police station. At this point, my nephew was palpably upset but without allowing his voice to betray his emotions, he calmly and politely bombarded the officer with questions which he couldn’t answer.
He asked the officer to tell him which law he has breached by not producing the receipt of his laptop. He also charged the officer to tell him his offence and under which law. Without disclosing my identity, I just stood watching the drama between my nephew and the officer as it was unfolding. The officer couldn’t answer any of the questions and clearly appeared confused. 

Before I knew what was happening, his looks suddenly changed and he became more furious but he never did what I envisaged at that point. In a sudden twist of events, the officer shouted at my nephew and asked him to carry his laptop and go away with his trouble. 

How You Can Prevent Your Rights From Being Breached

It may interest you to know that my nephew is not a lawyer, yet he was able to successfully challenge the policeman to re-claim his rightful property without my intervention, which heightens my respect for him. And it gladdens my heart to know, by his own admission, that leisurely reading online articles at  has served to improve his awareness of Nigeria laws and how to use them to achieve justice. The journey to a ‘Fair and Just’ Nigeria continues – get on board!

Section 36 (12) of the Nigerian Constitution, 1999, states that nobody can be punished for any offence, unless the offence is clearly defined and its punishment prescribed in a written law. My nephew undoubtedly knows this principle of law and that’s the principle he put to test in his encounter with the police officer.

Take, for instance, in defining what act amounts to rape and the punishment to be imposed upon the conviction of anyone charged with it, Section 357 of the Criminal Code states that a man is guilty of rape if he has carnal knowledge of a woman or girl without her consent or if her consent is obtained through the use of force or by pretending to be her husband.

Section 358 imposes a penalty of a maximum of life imprisonment for anyone tried and found guilty of rape.

If an officer can’t tell you your offence upon arrest with particulars as to under which law the offence is contained, it’s most likely whatever you’re arrested for is not a crime under the law.
Like my nephew, police harass people unnecessarily even when they have done no wrong under the law. There is no Nigerian law that requires people to go about with the receipts of their personal effects. Police would also have no legal justification to enquire for receipts of personal effects from anybody when there is no complaint of theft against an individual. 

Many young persons have been arrested and only released after they must have been extorted for having tattoos on their bodies. Is it an offence to wear tattoos? So also are many cases of arrest and detention of young persons for being in possession of exotic mobile phones.

Police harassments, intimidations, and rights abuses will continue as long as people don’t know their rights. Therefore, to prevent human rights abuses by the police, you have to know your rights and how to assert your rights appropriately. 

Most times when police officers know that somebody knows his or her rights are usually careful.

In the third part of this article which is the last part, I’ll be discussing when you may resort to court to salvage your rights.

(c) Kehinde ADEGBITE Esq