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22 Jan

CRIMINAL LITIGATION WEEK 6 (PRE-TRIAL INVESTIGATION AND POLICE INTERVIEWS)

WEEK 6

PRE-TRIAL INVESTIGATION AND POLICE INTERVIEWS.

:: The police have power to elicit information, unravel facts and evidence prior to institution of the case pursuant to their duties in Section 4 and 23 PA[1]. They may ask questions, take measurements, empirical analysis, medical examination, etc.

Where the offence is a minor one and suspect does not deny the accuracy of the report, he can be questioned through telephone, written representation or through agent.

:: CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS OF A SUSPECT AT THE POLICE STATION.

Investigations should be conducted within the ambit of the law.

  • The person being invited for interview should be told of the alleged offence occasioning the interview and in what status he is being interviewed/investigated. i.e. whether as witness, accused, victim, etc.
  • Dignity and freedom from unnecessary restraint of the interviewee/suspect. No torture, coercion, influence or force should be used-34 CFRN
  • Right to remain silent until he consults with a Legal Practitioner of his choice who is also entitled to be present at the interview Section 35(2) of the 1999 Constitution. Where he cannot afford one; an officer of legal aid council, civil society or justice of peace or other person of his choice. Section 3 ACJL.
  • Right to an interpreter at no cost if he does not understand English-Section 36(6) CFRN.
  • Right to be presumed and treated as innocent until proven guiltySection 36(5).
  • The offence for which he is arrested must be known to law-Section 36(12) CFRN Aoko v Fagbemi.
  • Right not to be re-arrested for offence he has already been convicted or acquitted for-Section 36(9)
  • Right to be informed in Writing of the facts and grounds for arrest within 24 hours and in the language he understands-Section 35(3) CFRN[2].
  • Right to have the confessional statement taken in writing. The ACJL and ACJA (Section 9 and 15) adds that audio or visual recording should accompany. His confessional Statement can be taken to a superior police officer for endorsement-Ojegede v The State, Judges Rules.
  • Right to be brought before a court of law within a reasonable time[3]Section 35(4 and 5) 17 ACJL (says as soon as practicable), 42 CPC… and if not tried within 2 months (or 3 months for one on bail) he should be released on conditions that ensure he would appear for trial. Edo v C.O.P.
  • Reasonable time and Facility to prepare for his defence.
  • Be granted Bail pending his arraignment or further investigation.
  • Right to Life-Bello v AG Oyo.
  • Compensation and Apology for wrongful arrest.
  • Right to privacy, home correspondence, conversations and so on. Section 37 of the 1999 Constitution.
  • Right not to be arrested in place of a suspect-Section 4 ACJL, 7 ACJA.

Interview should be in police station or other authorized place except likely harm or interference with interviewee, interviewer, evidence, people or property would be occasioned.

: JUDGES RULES: To set certain standards, judges rules (from common law) have been formulated. They mandate that statements are voluntarily made[4] by suspects for example; that suspect be cautioned (in his language) on the possible implications of answers he gives to questions he is about to be asked, interpreter entitlement and calling. (see also 29 EA 2011 on voluntariness of confessions).

Note that Judges Rules are for Administrative Convenience rather than binding-Usman v The State. It just affects the weight the court would attach to the statement.

:: IDENTIFICATION PARADE.

Where the identity of the suspect is in issue Ani v The State, Agboola v The State. Usually where the incident lasted a short while and the victim did not know the accused. The Suspect(s) must be assembled with about 8 (or 12 for more than one suspect) persons of similar physiognomy. Victim should not be allowed to see (or get the accused’s picture). Identification parade would not be necessary where the suspect is well known, arrested at the scene of the crime or well seen committing the offence. The identifier should not be assisted-R v Chapman.

:: LEGAL AID SCHEME: For indigent accused Earning below #18,000 and for matters mentioned in the Legal Aid Act. See Section 8 Legal Aid Act he is to complete Form LAC 2, be interviewed and thereafter assigned with a counsel.

:: CIRCUMSTANCES WHERE POLICE MAY GRANT BAIL PENDING FURTHER INVESTIGATIONS. Examined in later Chapter.

:: HOW EXHIBITS ARE KEPT AT THE POLICE STATION. Things seized be itemised in a list to be signed by suspect, searcher and witnesses-149 ACJA. Then be registered and kept by exhibit keeper in exhibit room. The exhibit keeper then tenders in evidence.

 

 

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[1] This does not extend to civil enforcement or debt collection- Mclaren v Jennings and Section 8 ACJA.

[2] Except arrested when in actual/pursued immediately after the commission of the crime or escape from lawful custody-Section 3 ACJL.

[3] 1 or 2 days or such longer period as the court considers reasonable requires where within 40 km or more respectively.

[4] See Section 29 EA, CP(Statement to the Officer), Emeka v The State. Judges Rules in the North has been enacted in the Criminal Procedure (Statement to Police Officers) Rules 1964.

Isochukwu

Quite eccentric really

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