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Zinoleeksy and Mohbad arrest: Can the NDLEA arrest without a search warrant? [Pulse Explainer]

What exact powers of arrest does the NDLEA have?

Marlian records signees Zinoleesky and Mohbad [Instagram/Zinoleesky] [Instagram/Mohbad]

With the news of Nigerian musicians Zinoleeksy and Moh Bad being arrested for drugs related offences, it is important to ask, “Does the NDLEA (Nigerian Drugs Law Enforcement Agency) have the power to enter into people’s houses without a warrant and carry out raids?”

According to Section 41 of the NDLEA Act, they can enter and search any premises without a search warrant.

It reads, “Any officer of the agency in the enforcement of the provisions of the Act may without a warrant, enter and search any land, building or carrier, including aircraft, vehicle or container or any other instrumentalities whatsoever which he has reason to believe is connected with the commission of an offence under this Act.”

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Interestingly, reasonable suspicion is enough ground for them to arrest anyone. So, if they suspect you've committed a drug-related offence, you can be arrested.

Reasonable suspicion is quite an ambiguous term, because when is suspicion reasonable? Those are discretionary powers that can be abused.

Looking at the nature of drug offences, there has to be the element of surprise so nothing will be hurriedly hidden.

Also, there might be bureaucracy and time wastage in getting a warrant of arrest or search warrant because it may be urgent to raid a building and carry out an arrest.

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Yes, they can. Section 41(1) (b) (i) reads that they can “arrest any person whom he has reason to believe has committed an offence under this act.”

They also can seize any item or substance that is used in the commission of a crime under the NDLEA Act.

These provisions answer the question of the legality of the arrest of singers Zinoleesky and Mohbad without a search warrant in the affirmative.

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There is also a video of the two singers being manhandled on the internet. The question is, were they resisting arrest? Was the force used to arrest them reasonable? Using reasonable force might be necessary if an arrest is being resisted.

However, the authorities have to charge them to court within 24 hours for an offence, if not, the arrest is against their fundamental rights according to Section 35 (5) of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution (as amended).

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