Before the advent of the Police Act 2020, the Nigerian Police force was regulated by the Police Act Cap P19, Laws of the Federation, 2004, and certain actions of the police were not put in check. With the unveiling of this Act came new provisions that were included to make the Police force a more accountable, fair, and efficient body. Some of them include:
1. The Nigerian Police force cannot arrest in place of a suspect:
Before the emergence of this new Act, the police had the power to arrest the family or friends of a suspect, if they couldn’t arrest that suspect. Section 36 of the Police Act 2020 repealed the earlier provisions and disallows the arrest of another person in place of a suspect.
2. The Nigerian Police cannot force a suspect to make a statement:
According to the new Police Act, a suspect may decide whether or not to make a statement while he is in police custody. It further states that such a statement must be made in the presence of a lawyer, a member of the legal aid council, or any other person of the suspect’s choice. If the suspect can’t speak or write English, he must be provided with an interpreter that will confirm his statement.
3. The police must give notice of delayed detention:
Section 64 of the Police Act 2020 provides that a suspect arrested for an offence should be granted bail within 24 hours. If he’s not released, an application must be sent to a court of competent jurisdiction.
4. The Police must notify a suspect’s family of his arrest:
Unlike before that when a suspect was arrested, he was denied communication with his family members. It is now a requirement that the next of kin of a suspect or his relative be properly informed, and this should be done without collecting money from them.
5. Police cannot arrest for a civil wrong:
When a person owes money or breaches a contract that existed before, the police cannot arrest such a person as this is an abuse of power. Their power to arrest is limited to criminal offences alone. They cannot recover private debts or meddle in affairs of a civil nature.