|On June 22, 2023, policemen invaded the hotel room of one Dr. Ayo Sogunro and detained him for hours after he arrived in Nigeria without a warrant of arrest for allegedly “having a married woman” in his company. Sogunro, in his series of tweets, said the police arrested and detained him without a warrant and a proper explanation behind his arrest. He was fortunate to be released with the joint effort of his friends and the global human rights body, Amnesty International, after being detained for over 18 hours upon his arrest by officers of the force from his hotel room in the Garki area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
“As always, whenever I am in Nigeria, my friends would welcome me at my accommodation, share a drink or two and generally gist. This time was no different. For now. One of them promised to stop by on her way home from work, also in the area. Of the people I texted, she was the first to get to my place. I had checked into the hotel around 6.20 pm and she got there around 6.40 pm. Barely 15 minutes later, three police officers came to my door,” said Sogunro, reported BarriaterNG.
The police are the custodians of law in the society and no one can be said to be above the law. The power of the police to investigate crimes and in the process arrest and detain persons suspected to have committed an offense derives its statutory blessing from the provisions of Section 4 of the Police Act 2020, which states thus:
The Police Force shall:
- Prevent and detect crimes, and protect the rights and freedom of every person in Nigeria as provided in the constitution, the African Charter on Human Rights, and any other laws law;
- Maintain public safety, law, and order;
- Protect the lives and property of all persons in Nigeria;
- Enforce all laws and regulations without any prejudice to the enabling acts of other security agencies;
- Discharge such duties within and outside Nigeria as may be required of it under this Act or any other law;
- Collaborate with other agencies to take any necessary action and provide the required assistance or support to persons in distress, including victims of road accidents, fire disasters, earthquakes, and floods;
- Facilitate free passage and movement on the highways, roads, and streets open to the public;
- Adopt community partnership in the discharge of its responsibilities under this Act or under any law; and
- Vet and approve the registration of private detective schools and private investigation outfits.
Section 38 of the Police Act goes further to state when an arrest can be made. The Nigeria Police have the right to arrest those who they reasonably believe to have committed an offense under Nigerian Law. Still, while arresting such suspects, they must adhere to the provisions of the constitution as contained in Chapter 4, which categorically states the fundamental rights of the citizen of Nigeria.
The last I checked, Nigeria remains a democratic republic. However, If the Nigeria Police Force, which is supposed to be the enforcer of the rule of law and the beacon of hope for the common man, commits such an outrageous act with impunity, then it’s time to redefine who we are as a nation.