By section 30 of the 1979 like section 33 of the 1999 constitution, every person has a right to life, and no one shall be deprived intentionally of his life save in execution of the sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty in Nigeria. Subsection (2) then goes on to state that a person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his life in contravention of this section, if he dies as a result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably necessary:
- for the defence of any person from unlawful violence or for the defence of property;
- in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or
- for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny. Right to Dignity of Human Person
The constitution states as follows:
- Every individual is entitled to respect for the dignity of his person, and accordingly:
- no person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment;
- no person shall be held in slavery or servitude, and
- no person shall be required to perform forced or compulsory labour.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1) (a) of this section, “forced or compulsory labour” does not include:
(a) any labour required in consequence of the sentence or order of a court;
(b) any labour required of members of the armed forces of the Federation or the Nigeria Police Force in pursuance of their duties as such or, in the case of persons who have conscientious objectives to service in the armed forces of the Federation, any labour required instead of such service;
(c) any labour required which is reasonably necessary in the event of any emergency or calamity threatening the life or well-being of the community; or
(d) any labour or service that forms part of (i) normal communal or other civic obligations for the well-being of the community; (ii) such compulsory national service in the armed forces of the Federation as may be prescribed by an Act of the National
Assembly, or (iii) such compulsory national service which forms part of the education and training of citizens of Nigeria as may be prescribed by an Act of the National Assembly.
See sections 31 and 34 of the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions respectively.
Right to Personal Liberty
The same constitutions – section 32 (1979) and 35 (1999) provide as follows:
- Every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure permitted by law –
- in execution of the sentence or order of a court in respect of a criminal offence of which he has been found guilty;
- by reason of his failure to comply with the order of a court or in order to secure the fulfillment of any obligation imposed upon him by law;
- 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;
- in the case of a person who has not attained the age of 18 years, for the purpose of his education or welfare;
- in the case of persons suffering from infectious or contagious disease, persons of unsound mind, persons addicted to drugs or alcohol or vagrants, for the purpose of their care or treatment or the protection of the community; or
- for the purpose of preventing the unlawful entry of any person into Nigeria or of effecting the expulsion, extradition or other lawful removal from Nigeria of any person or the taking of proceedings relating thereto.
Provided that a person who is charged with an offence and who has been detained in lawful custody awaiting trial shall not continue to be kept in such detention for a period longer than the maximum period of imprisonment prescribed for the offence.
(2) Any person who is arrested or detained shall have the right to remain silent or avoid answering any question until after consultation with a legal practitioner or any person of his own choice.
(a) 2 months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who is in custody or is not entitled to bail; or (b) 3 months from the date of his arrest or detention in the case of a person who has been released on bail. he shall (without prejudice to any further proceedings that may be brought against him) be released either unconditionally or upon such conditions as are reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears for trial at a later date.
(5) In subsection (4) of this section the expression “a reasonable time” means: (a) in the case of an arrest or detention in any place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40 kilometres, a period of one day; and (b) in any other case, a period of 2 day or such longer period as in the circumstance may be considered by the court to be reasonable.
(6) Any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained shall be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority or person; and in this subsection, “the appropriate authority or person” means an authority or person specified by law.
(7) Nothing in this section shall be construed : (a) in relation to subsection (4) of this section, as applying in the case of a person arrested or detained upon reasonable suspicion of having committed a capital office; and (b) as invalidating any law by reason only that it authorises the detention for a period not exceeding 3 months of a member of the armed forces of the Federation or a member of the Nigeria Police Force in execution of a sentence imposed by an officer of the armed forces of the Federation or of the Nigeria Police Force, in respect of an offence punishable by such detention of which he has been found guilty.
Arrest means a restraint on a person’s personal liberty in order to make the person amenable to justice. An arrest to compel a person against his
Arrest, how made
S. 3. In making an arrest the police officer or other person making the shall actually touch or confine the body of the person to be arrested, unless there be a submission to the custody by word or action.
No unnecessary restraint
S. 4. A person arrested shall not be handcuffed, otherwise bound or be subjected to unnecessary restraint except by order of the court, a magistrate or justice of the peace or unless there is reasonable apprehension of violence or of an attempt to escape or unless the restraint is considered necessary for the safety of the person arrested. Notification of cause of arrest
S. 5. Except when the person arrested is in the actual course of the commission of a crime or is pursued immediately after the commission of a crime or escape from lawful custody, the police officer or other person making the arrest shall inform the person arrested of the cause of the arrest.
Search of arrested persons
S. 6(1). Whenever a person is arrested by a police officer or a private person, the police officer making the arrest or to whom the private person makes over the persons arrested may search such person, using such force as may be reasonably necessary for such purpose, and place in safe custody all articles other than necessary wearing apparel found upon him.
(3) Whenever it is necessary to cause a woman to be searched, the search shall be made by another woman.
(4) Notwithstanding the other provisions of this section, any police officer or other person making an arrest may in any case take from the person arrested any offensive weapons which he has about his person.
(5) Where any property has been taken under this section from a person charged before a court of competent jurisdiction with any offence, a report shall be made by the police to such court of the fact of such property having been taken from the person charged of the particulars of such property, and the court shall, if of opinion that the property or any portion thereof can be returned consistently with the interests of justice and with the safe custody of the person charged, direct such property or any portion thereof to be returned to the person or to such other person as he may direct.
(6) Where any property has been taken from a person under this section, and the person is not charged before any court but is released on the ground that there is no sufficient reason to believe that he has committed any offence, any property so taken from him shall be restored to him.
(7) When a person is in lawful custody upon a charge of committing in such circumstances that there are reasonable grounds for believing that an examination of his person will afford evidence as to the commission of the offence it shall be lawful for a qualified medical practitioner, acting at the request of a police officer, or if no such practitioner is procurable, then for such police officer, and for any person acting in good faith in aid and under the direction of such practitioner or police officer, as the
case may be, to make such an examination of the person so in custody as is reasonably necessary in order to ascertain the facts which may afford such evidence, and to use such force as is reasonably necessary for that purpose.