An unlawful detention occurs when a person’s right to personal liberty is restricted without following the legal process. This includes:
What are my rights in detention?
When in detention, the police or agency that is holding you must respect the following rights which are enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution:
If these rights are not respected, your detention will be unlawful
A real-life case:
CHIEF IBRAHIM SALAMI v. PA JOSIAH OYEDIRAN OLAOYE & ANOR (2018) LPELR-47256(CA) – A man was detained for a period of three days without reasonable cause for the delay. The arrest and detention was deemed unlawful by the appeal court.
BEEIOR ISHENGE v. COMMISSIONER OF POLICE, PLATEAU STATE & ANOR (2019) LPELR-48390(CA) – The Appeal Court held that the police violated the right to personal liberty of the appellant as guaranteed by Section 35 of the Nigerian Constitution when it failed to charge the appellant within the legal time frame.
You may, but as an exception. The only way this can happen is if the authority that accused you of a crime asks a court for an extension and a court orderes it, according to Section 293 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act of 2015. You may be remanded in custody if:
In the first application to keep you in custody, the court may grant a remand order not exceeding a period of 14 days.
Such period may be extended for another 14 days if the prosecutor justifies the need to continue to keep you in custody.
If after both extensions, you are still not put before a court that has the jurisdiction (authority) to decide on your case, you can apply for bail.
If the application on bail is rejected your stay in custody can be extended for another 28 days (making it 56 days in total). In case you are still being remanded when the extended period lapses, the court will discharge you and you should be immediately released from custody.
How do I make a complaint about unlawful detention? In the case of harm or disturbance by a police officer, a report should first be made to the Commissioner of Police.
Can I challenge unlawful detention in court? Yes. If no positive response is received, then you can evaluate with legal support whether to proceed to file a case in court to seek the enforcement of your right.
A real-life case:
CHIEF IBRAHIM SALAMI v. PA JOSIAH OYEDIRAN OLAOYE & ANOR (2018) LPELR-47256(CA) – A person was detained for a period of three days without reasonable cause for the delay. The arrest and detention was adjudged unlawful by the Court of Appeal .
You can challenge an unlawful detention by using the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure. Follow the steps in the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure and other means of defending human rights.
TIP: Gather Evidence. To challenge unlawful detention successfully, you need the evidence to prove that you have been detained unconstitutionally or unlawfully. It is not the arrest and detention of a person on a reasonable suspicion of his having committed an offence that constitutes the violation of his fundamental right to personal liberty. It is the unreasonableness of the length of his period of detention that you must prove. The burden to prove this is on you.
You are entitled to remedies if the court holds that you were detained unlawfully. Section 35(6) of the 1999 Constitution states that any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained shall be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority or person. For more information, check what happens if I win or if I loose? section under the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedure Guide.