Unlawful detention, way out-U.B. Ali Dakata

UB Ali Dakata

By U.B. Ali Dakata

The longest threat on rampant unconstitutional arrest and false detention is escalating in our rural/urban communities. Suggested ways to overcome, such short coming, through legal perspective and remedies if there’s any, in such turbulence.

How can we play part of our role as a contribution towards tackling the mayhem as law students? And also how would the victims seek redress in a court of law as well as getting legal aid. Is he (the victim) entitled as a right not privilege to have access of legal services for free?

How can the victim have access to pro-bono legal practitioners’ aid without payment of dues?


Nigeria is a sovereign country which adopted democracy from USA in the year 1979 as a system of government with 36 states includes FCT Abuja. The country has Constitution as fountain where each of the three levels of government sourced its power.

The same constitution declared chapter 4 which contained the provision of rights to be enjoyed by its citizen’s, right from S: 33-46 of 1999 Federal Republic of the Nigeria Constitution as amended.

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Nigerians are entitled to walk free and earn a living throughout the geographical area of the country without any restriction or hunch, and also move free to acquire and owned moveable and immoveable property of their choice everywhere within the territorial jurisdiction of Nigeria except he breaches a rule of law which its sanction and penalties has been prescribed by appropriate (body) authority.

How on earth a child’s act of omission will subjugate the father and to suffered detriment for the commission of an offense found his son guilty, just mere the culprit was nowhere to be found. Despite the fact that where sanction is prescribed ,the punishment was solely meant for the culprit not any of his relative to be punished

Background of the study

The primary function of governmental authorized agencies such as Police, DSS, SSS, NDLEA are to protect citizens against any act of vices or criminals and regulate conduct not to harm but to promote peace and harmony among people.

The Nigerian Police (NP) is designed by the 1999 constitution as the national police of Nigeria with exclusive jurisdiction throughout the country. See S:214 (1) of 1999Federal Republic Nigeria Constitution as amended. Constitutional provision also exists, however, for the establishment of separate NPF branches “forming part of the armed forces of the Federation or for their protection of harbours, waterways, railways and airfields. “One such branch, the Port Security Police, was reported by different sources to have strength in 1990 of between 1,500 and 12000.

Constitutional provisions that protect citizens from Arrest prior to investigation

Section 35of the 1999 constitution (as amended) provides for the fundamental rights to personal liberty. It also extensively stipulates the circumstances under which a person could be deprived of such liberties. The Nigerian Police Officers are galaxy of stars in detaining accused persons without much regard to the above provisions. The problem occurs because people are usually arrested before the investigation is carried out and completed. The terrible thing is that people are being detained for an alleged offence.

Did you know the constitutional rules governing arrest?

In the following circumstances your maximum cooperation is needed, to let order act and peace reign in society. If you are not okay with it at lease sooner or later you will be release and then seek remedy in a court of appropriate jurisdiction.

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It also extensively stipulates the circumstances under which a person could be deprived of such liberties S:35 (1) a,b and cas in the following;

  1. In execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty;
  2. By reason of his failure to comply with Order of a court or in order to secure the fulfillment of any obligation imposed upon him by law;
  3. For the purpose of bringing him before a court in execution of the order of a court or upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence, or to such extent as may be reasonably necessary to prevent his committing a criminal offence

Section 36(5) also mentioned that “every person who is charged with criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty….”

Detention order in police custody even a person is arrested in accordance with S: 35(1)(c) is subject to limitation, shall be taken to court within a period of one day i.e., maximum 24hrs.

Unconstitutional arrest and remedy of false detention

             Arrest or detention of innocent whom his son, brother, or closely related committed a crime

             Arrest or detention of anybody before investigation

             Arrest or detention in civil matters

             Any arrest or detention that contradict with section 35(1)a,b and c of 1999 Federal Republic of the Nigeria Constitution as amended


Any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained shall be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority. (S: 35 (6) of 1999FRNC)

Access to legal practitioners

The Nigerian Constitution also makes provision for the offering of financial assistance or legal aid to those who qualify for such aid under the Legal Aid Act. Section 46(2) of 1999FRNC


Illegal police arrest and detention of a Suspect/defendant in Nigeria can be effectively tackled by a broad and extensive sensitization of citizens by National Human Right Commission, Non-Governmental Organization and Police Response Unit etc.

It is becoming more common to find civil disputes having police participation in contravention of the provisions of the existing applicable Laws like Section 32 (2) of the Police Act 2020 | and the administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015

Dakata, a final year law student writes from Bayero University Kano, and can be reached at umargidanzhana@gmail.com/07034652965


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