An arrest is the act of apprehending and taking of a person into custody, usually because the person is suspected to have committed a crime or observed committing a crime. Whether or not the arrest is lawful, when the seizure is done, an arrest has been made.

There are procedures around how to carry out an arrest. Those arrest procedures have to respect your rights and there are options to challenge the violation of your rights in case they are not respected during arrest.

Legal action can be a way of holding the police accountable for unfair arrests or stop and searches by police.


Must an arrest be legal and respect human rights?


This means that:

  • Arrests can only take place on certain grounds or for certain reasons which are stated in Nigerian law.
  • Be carried out by certain people only.
  • Even if an arrest is made by the right people and because of the right reasons, those that carry out an arrest must comply with a process which respects human rights.

Where any of the above is not respected legal action could be taken.



Introduction and scope of this guide

This guide aims to give you an overview of your rights and what options you have to enforce them in relation to arrest procedures in Nigeria.

This guide may be of use to everyone who seeks:

  1. knowledge about arrest generally,
  2. the grounds or reasons for an arrest and who can make an arrest,
  3. the legal process which must be followed when making an arrest, and the rights upon arrest of an individual, and
  4. how abuse of rights during arrest can be redressed and the available remedies.

It is important to understand that the laws in Nigeria change over time. While this guide provides you with practical steps of enforcing your rights, it is not legal advice and it is important for you to seek and get legal advice from a lawyer or support organisation if you need specific advice.



This guide was put together by a team of Lawyers, CSO Experts, and Law Students (NJEF Fellows) in partnership with NULAI and Action4Justice.

Who are we?

Action4Justice is a group of NGO's united to support public interest litigation worldwide as a means to advance social justice.

Learn more
Our members
  • Oxfam
  • Greenpeace
  • Transparency International
  • Forest People’s Programme
Support Us

We seek partnerships with organizations and communities worldwide who support our goals. Join our network, or volunteer.

Learn more