Limitations to police power to conduct search on Nigerian citizens

Limitations to police power to conduct search on Nigerian citizens

The constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria duly provides for the Nigerian police council in s.157 (specifically in sub L) and the police are charged to carry out the duties and functions provided in S.4 of the Police act, 2020. Some of such duties are detection of crime, prevention of crime and apprehension of offenders (S.4 of the Police Act, 2020).

In order or carry out these statutory functions of detection and prevention of crime and apprehension of criminals. the police officers are to go some length which include conducting of search on individuals, conducting of search on peoples homes and conducting search on peoples properties and invading people’s privacies but this extent of which they could go should be placed side by side with s.37 of the Constitution of the federal republic of Nigeria, which provides for the protection of the privacy of citizens, their homes and properties hence placing a limit on the power of the police officers to conduct search on citizens, their homes and properties.

In other to reconcile the power of the police to invade people’s private lives in the discharge of their statutory functions, conditions where placed to restrict such power of police and it also makes sure that the police officers doesn’t abuse the power of invading people’s privacy in the guise of detection and prevention of crime and apprehension of criminals. Some of the conditions a police officer must fulfill before he can legally conduct search on individuals, their homes or their properties include;

  1. The police officer must have a strong and reasonable intel that the person is a criminal or the property or home is used for criminal activities or that the property is a stolen property.
  2. Petition must have been made against that person or the person’s home or property.
  3. The police officer must obtain a search warrant against that person or property from a court of competent jurisdiction.

These are three sacrosanct conditions (amongst others) a police officer must fulfill before he can legally conduct a search on a person, a person’s home or the person’s property. Anything other than this, the purported search carried out by the police officer is an illegal activity, abuse of power and ridicule of the police force and he can be punished for doing such if reported.

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