Must rights be respected upon arrest?

From the point of arrest and detention through to release of suspects, there are certain rights that have been stipulated and must be respected.


List of rights to inform a person upon arrest

The law mandates that the arresting officer informs the suspect of these rights at the point of arrest.

The legal framework backing up these rights include:

  • Section 35 of the Nigerian Constitution 1999
  • Section 5 and 6 of the ACJA (Administration of Criminal Justice Act) 2015
  • Section 4 of the Criminal Procedure Act and the relevant sections of the Criminal Procedure Law of various states.

These rights include:

  • The right to remain silent and refuse to answer questions until the person has consulted with his/her lawyer, relative or friend
  • Within 24hrs be informed in writing and in the language he or she best understands of the facts and the reason for his or her arrest
  • Be brought before a court within a reasonable time (24-48hrs, depending on the proximity of the court).
  • You have the right to consult an attorney before speaking to the police and to have an attorney present during questioning now or subsequently.
  • If the suspect cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for him or her before questioning if they wish.
  • If the suspect decides to answer questions now without an attorney, he still has the right to stop answering any time until he talks to an attorney.
  • The suspect needs to be informed that anything he says may be used against him in the court of law
  • The suspect is entitled to bail which may be in form of surety or a personal recognizance bond showing relationship between him or her and the arrested person.
  • The suspect has right against any form of torture or maltreatment.

Section 4 of the Criminal Procedure Act and the relevant sections of the Criminal Procedure Law of various States, provide that 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.

These rights must be respected by the police or any law enforcement agency throughout the arrest process. When these rights are not respected, any arrest secured is deemed unlawful.

If you feel your arrest was unlawful, and you want to challenge the arrest, check the A4J guide on Fundamental Rights enforcement procedure for practical guide on how to enforce your rights

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