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The Nigeria Police is the Lead Law Enforcement Agency in Nigeria. The Police Act , 2020 gives the police enormous powers in crime detection, prevention and investigation, including the power to stop and Search
Particularly, Section 50 (4) of the the Police Act. 2020
states thus on condition precedent made compulsory, before a Police Officer is enured with the powers to stop and search :
*“for any police officer to exercise the power to stop and search, he shall be in uniform or visibly wear a valid police identity card”* .
This presupposes that the absence of a police uniform or a visible identity card, robs a police officer of the requisite powers to exercise a search.
The act gives the circumstances before a police officer/ police man or woman can search a detained person or vehicle, stating that he or she must fulfil the conditions stipulated in section 50 (3) of the Act.
Section 50 (3) of the Police Act, 2020 states thus:
*“before any search of a detained person or vehicle may take place, the officer shall give the person to be searched or in charge of the vehicle:*
“(a) his name and the name of the police station to which he is attached;
“(b) the object of the search; and
“(c) his grounds or authorisation for undertaking the search.”
The Act also clarifies the action that should be taken before a search is conducted by a police officer.
Section 50 (1) states that, “where a police officer is exercising the powers under section 51 of this Act, he shall be before carrying out the search, question the person about his behaviour or his presence in circumstances, which gave rise to the suspicion.
“If the person to be searched has a satisfactory explanation which makes a search unnecessary or other circumstances come to the attention of the police officer that make the search unnecessary, no search may take place.”
Section 51 (1) states that, “reasonable effort shall be taken to minimise the embarrassment that a person or the
person whose property is being searched may experience”.
The act in this regard defines the concept of “reasonable grounds for suspicion” to conduct a search.
Section 54 states that, “the following shall not be grounds for reasonable suspicions;
“(a) personal attributes, including a person’s colour, age, hairstyle or manner of dress;
“(b) previous conviction for possession of an unlawful article; or
“(c) stereotyped images of certain persons or groups as more likely to be committing offences.”
You can see that as a citizen , you have a right to ask questions from the officer or police man/woman on the road , to provide same details about himself or his team , but do so politely. Be civil in your engagement and if you had any challenges, Google the phone number of the State, Zone or Formation Police PRO and make a complaint, giving details of the engagement with the police .
Stay safe .
About the Author:
Douglas Ogbankwa Esq., Lawyer , Writer and Policy Analyst is the Convener of the Security Situation Room.
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