The Nigeria Police Force (NPF) has cautioned Nigerians to never resist arrest by police officers even if they believe the arrest to be illegal.
As part of its drive to improve interactions between police officers and members of the public, the Force released tips for safe and cordial conduct during an arrest situation on Monday, May 13, 2019.
Noting that arrest situations can easily turn violent if not properly handled, the Force warned Nigerians that resisting arrest, which constitutes offence on its own, can portray one as a hostile person.
To educate Nigerians on how to behave in arrest situations, the Force warned that resisting arrest could result in harm to the suspect or the arresting officer.
"Do not resist arrest. Even if you believe that the arrest is illegal or uncalled for, allow the arrest to take place without any incident.
"Note that resisting arrest could lead to an encounter that might result in harm, injuries and/or permanent disabilities or death to you or even the officer arresting you.
"It is therefore better to allow the arrest to take place without an incident and thereafter seek redress and appropriate sanction against the defaulting officer through a legitimate process," the Force advised.
The statement also noted that a suspect may be handcuffed if they display violent behaviour or show propensity to escape.
The Force further disclosed that a member of the public about to be arrested can politely demand to know the reason for the arrest as well as request the identity of the officer and station if such information is not volunteered.
The person about to be arrested can also demand to see the warrant of arrest where necessary. However, the Force noted that officers have wide powers under the law to arrest without warrant in many circumstances.
Despite this, the Force noted that someone about to be arrested can politely request that the officers allow them to inform a trusted friend or a family member or a lawyer soon after their arrest in order to avoid unnecessary apprehension as to their whereabouts or safety.
The Force further revealed that on arrest, the Police can search an arrested person's body, clothing and other belongings including a vehicle if the person is in it at the time of being stopped.
However, the Force noted if an arrest requires the officer to conduct a search on the person about to be arrested, such a person can politely request that the officer be searched first to allay fears that the officer may plant incriminating items to implicate them.
The person about to be arrested is advised to comply with all legitimate instruction during the search which can be conducted with or without a search warrant. Such a person is advised to always let the officer know of any health challenge (if any exists) in case they may need immediate medical attention.
"This is important in case you may need immediate medical attention, particularly asthmatic patients, persons with history of epilepsy, high blood pressure, diabetes especially those on insulin etc. You should immediately make full disclosures," the statement read.
Even though officers may ask an arrested suspect to write and sign a statement, the Force noted that they have a right to decline especially if they believe it can incriminate them. Nigerians are also advised to not use their phones indiscriminately while being arrested.
The Force further warned Nigerians to not interfere or intervene when a third party is being arrested as they may not know the details and seriousness of the charge against the person.
On a final note, the Force noted that willingly following officers to the station is indicative that someone has nothing to hide from the law.
"In addition, this voluntary action of yours will eliminate any possibility of the arresting Officer resorting to the use of 'Minimal or Reasonable force' to elicit your compliance," the statement concluded.
The Force revealed that two concluding parts of the series will focus on tips on safe and cordial conducts at Police stations, and expectations of the public from police officers in promoting safe and cordial interactions with citizens.
Police officers have been in the news recently for a string of misconducts that have sometimes led to the death of civilians. This led to the acceleration of a Police reform bill which was passed by the National Assembly last month and awaits presidential assent.