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If an officer must search you, search him first, police chief advises Nigerians
Ibrahim Idris, Inspector General of Police, says before a police officer can conduct a search on an individual or a car or a house, that officer must first allow himself to be searched.
As part of its public enlightenment policy, Idris, on Thursday, took to the Police’s verified twitter handle to answer questions from Nigerians, as well as shed more light on the activities of the security agency.
In one of his responses, the IGP said that an officer ought to allow himself be searched before he or she can conduct a search on any individual, saying that is “the procedure”.
“If an officer wants to search you in your house/ car, he must first surrender himself for searching. This is the procedure. Ask politely.
#AskThePolice,” the tweet read.
If an officer wants to search you in your house/ car, he must first surrender himself for searching. This is the procedure. Ask politely. #AskThePolice
— Nigeria Police Force (@PoliceNG) May 17, 2018
It is not clear whether the person behind the tweeter handle is actually the IGP, but the responses were given in the first person pronoun: “I” and “me”.
For instance when asked why he refused to honour the summons of the Nigerian Senate, the response read as follows: “I did not refuse to honor the Senate’s invitation. In fact I promptly responded by delegating the DIG Operations at the first invitation while I was away with Mr President in Bauchi on an official assignment.
“At the second invitation, I was at Birnin Gwari for an operational on the spot security assessment. My DIG Research and Planning was delegated to brief the Senate on my behalf, which is allowed by the Constitution and the Police Act and Regulations.”
Idris also used the medium to clarify that the recent video that went viral on the social media, purportedly showing him struggling to read his own speech at a function in Kano, was doctored.
Adekola Adewale asked, “I saw a video yesterday on social media about the Inspector General of Police not able to read his own speech. Some of us suspect it is a doctored video, can you clarify that please?” And the curt response was, “Thank you for your question. Yes it was doctored.”
IG also tweeted that an officer is expected to introduce himself or herself before he or she could arrest an offender, especially where the officer is not on uniform.
In a similar response to Alvin Ikpe, another Twitter account holder, Idris said, “Police in investigation departments for instance wear mufti. And as such use Police vests. It is your right however in case you come across anyone in mufti, and in doubt, for their Identity cards.”
Another concern that was addressed by the police chief during the tweet chat was the issue of parading of suspects and arranging them for group photographs instead of taking mugshots of such suspects as is practised in other countries of the world.
Olusesan Ayodele asked, “Instead of group photographs of suspected criminals, when will the Police start taking mugshots and have their records documented?”
In response, Idris explained that parading suspects “is simply the Force letting the public know the efforts and achievements of the Police in curbing and reducing crime to the barest minimum”, adding, however that “the Criminal Investigation Department (of the Force) takes care of mugshots and the records of criminals/suspects”.
On whether it is legal for policemen to search people’s phones without a warrant, the reponse was: “It is not ideal for officers to search your phones without a complaint. It is not professional. Officers have been lectured not to unnecessarily search people’s phones without any case or complaint against the person.”
Finally on the issues of the brutality meted out to ordinary citizens by men of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Police force, Idris said the complaints are being treated with seriousness it deserves.
“Their (SARS’) role is to maintain law and order and prevent criminal activities; where they do otherwise, if a case is instituted against them they would be dealt with. Please do report any cases you witness.
“We have implemented a reformed dressing code for F-SARS: P-cap with F-SARS on it, a jacket/T-Shirt with F-SARS and the location/State inscribed at the back. The name of the officer is written on the chest for easy identification.
Nigerians who participated in the tweet chat sent in their questions using the hashtag #AskThePolice, which is still trending on tweeter as at the time of filing this report.