Mon - Fri: 9:00 - 17:00 / Closed on Weekends


On March 11, 2024, a citizen whose Twitter handle is @pureazibaNelson, drew the attention of the Nigerian authorities to his encounter with some men of the police force whom he believed wrongly harassed him. According to him, he was arrested and asked to bail himself for being in possession of syringes and petri dishes. In his tweet, he demanded an answer as to whether possession of syringes and petri dishes was a criminal act in Nigeria.

Police Public Relations Officer Olumuyiwa Adejobi, whose Twitter handle is princemoye1, replied to his tweet that if he is not a medical practitioner, it is a case of unlawful possession and possibly impersonation, etc.… As such, he ought to have been arraigned without any bail option.

Although section 49 of the new Police Act 2020 allows the police force the right to stop and search citizens where there is suspicion of incriminating items. It is important to note that where possession of certain items alone does not make one guilty of an offense, then the police must consider the context of possession. Where a person gives a reasonable explanation as to why he is in possession of certain items, it should be sufficient for the police to release him/her and proceed to conduct further investigation if they believe the individual is not telling the truth.

Possession of syringes and petri dishes by ordinary citizens who are not medical practitioner is not an offense under any law in Nigeria.  Therefore, a citizen in possession of these items ought not to be arrested and indicted only on the basis of possession.  The police will only be acting in accordance with the law if they have evidence to corroborate that such items were stolen or being used to commit a criminal offense.

It is highly condemnable and shameful that the Nigerian police force will arrest a citizen for having items that are used not only by medical practitioners but also by students, lab scientists, microbiologists, agriculturists, and even laymen for different purposes that are not necessarily illegal.

The Nigerian Police force must note that our justice system is adversarial in nature. This means that it is the duty of the prosecutor to prove the guilt of an accused and not the duty of the accused to prove his innocence. As such, the police are duty-bound to investigate any reasonable suspicion and acquire evidence before charging a suspect with a crime.



Post Comments