SARS: 10 things this police unit doesn’t want you to know
These are ten key things you should know before you encounter any SARS officer.
The activities of SARS is still trending social media.
#EndSARS which started as an outcry on Twitter from mostly young people snowballed into a movement involving Nigerian celebrities.
Even former VP Abubakar Atiku reacted to the horror stories about SARS on Twitter. The agitation led the Inspector General of Police to call for a restructuring of SARS on Monday, December 4, 2017.
It might take a while for the reforms to take place. We haven’t gotten to the promise land yet. Please if you find yourself in trouble with SARS, please know these ten things.
These facts have been made public by Legal Naija, a blog that aims to educate Nigerians on the legal rights, duties and obligations.
Here are the ten things you should know;
1) Bail is free
This is a fact. It’s a shame that most Nigerians don’t know this. If you have been arrested by the police do not be swindled into paying for your bail.
2) You are liable to remain silent if arrested
If you are ever arrested by SARS or other police officers, please know you can choose to remain silent. This is backed up by the Nigerian constitution.
During interrogation, your lawyer must be present. According to Section 6(2)(a) Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015); your legal counsel must be present when questioned by law enforcement officials.
4) Torture is illegal
Forget what you’ve seen in the movies, the Nigerian police has no right to torture anyone including suspects. This also includes unlawful treatment.
5) Searching of phones
It is illegal for any police officer to search your phone(s). SARS operatives are fond of going through phones. This is illegal and they don’t have the right to do so.
6) Innocent till proven guilty
This is a universal principle but somehow a few of our police officers do not know this. No one is guilty until a court of law delivers such a verdict. Till then, a suspect is innocent and should be treated as such.
7) Reason of arrest
A policeman must state the reason why you are under arrest before putting you in the ‘cuffs.
8) Compensation for unlawful arrest
If you have ever been unlawfully arrested before, you have a right to be compensated by the authorities. This is according to Section 35(6) of the 1999 constitution.
9) Charged to court immediately
A suspect is meant to be charged to court immediately. Staying days, weeks and months in jail is unlawful.
10) No can be arrested in lieu of another person
This is a wrongful and normal practice by the police authorities. If they cannot arrest a suspect, the next step is to arrest someone close to the suspect.
If you have any complaints you can reach out to the Police Complaint Commission.