Daily Law Tips (Tip 357) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LLM. ACIArb(UK)

WHEN AND FOR HOW LONG CAN POLICE ARREST A PERSON FOR REFUSING TO GIVE HIS NAME OR RESIDENTIAL ADDRESS.

A police officer can arrest any person that refuses to provide his name or residential address or that provided name or residential address that such police officer suspects to be false, in any of the following instances:

1. Where a person committed an offence in the presence of the police officer or

2. Where a person has been accused of committing an offence triable summarily (ie, an offence not punishable with imprisonment for more than 2 years or fine of #40,000.00. Mostly there are simple offences and Misdemeanours charged before Magistrates and High Courts without filling an information).

Note that such arrest is necessary to enable police obtain or ascertain correct name or residential address of a suspect. After obtaining correct name and residential address of a suspect, such suspect is to be released on bail with or without sureties although with the condition that the suspect will appear before a Magistrate if needed by police. Where a suspect is not resident in Nigeria, he must provide surety/sureties resident in Nigeria before he can be granted bail in such situations.

Furthermore, if a suspect’s true name or residential address cannot be ascertained within 24 hours or his bail could not be perfected within 24 hours, such suspect must be brought before the nearest Magistrate. And where such suspect continues to refuse providing his correct name or address, the Magistrate shall deal with such suspect as an uncooperative witness. In dealing with such suspect as an uncooperative witness, a Magistrate has powers to order the detention of such suspect in prison or any other safe custody for a period not more than 30 days.

My authorities are sections 19, 250(1), 494 and 495 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015 and other similar laws across States in Nigeria.

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