It’s a cool Saturday evening, you and your friends are at your house watching Liverpool V. Arsenal match. On a cool Sunday evening, you and your girlfriends are in your living room with a bottle of wine, listening and talking about that juicy gossip that just couldn’t be said over the phone when you hear a knock at your door. Obviously annoyed at the interruption, you quickly go to check who is at the door only to open it and see the Police waiting for you.
Police: We are here to search your house.
(Two other hefty police officers breathing through their backs are standing behind the officer that knocked at your door.)
Match and gist have long since disappeared from your mind. At that exact moment, you’ll wish you read streetlawyernaija.com more often to be acquainted about your rights but it may be too late then.
The power of a Police to search is contained under Section 28 of the Police Act. Here are the things to do if you find yourself in such situation:
Ask Them To Produce a Search Warrant
This is very important. A warrant is simply a document that grants the police the power to perform an act. It could be a Warrant of Arrest or a Search Warrant. Without this document, which has to be issued by a Magistrate or Judge, the police does not have the power to conduct a search or an arrest (except in certain situations). The Police is required by law to show you the search warrant as evidence that it was issued against you before executing it, EXCEPT in a situation where an Arrest Warrant was issued against a person and such person is believed to be within your house.
Call Your Neighbors
Yes! When they say, ‘be kind to your neighbors’ this is why. The Search has to be conducted in the presence of two respectable inhabitants of your neighborhood, summoned by you of course, to serve as witnesses. If Mama Doyin begged you at one point to allow her use your gas to cook indomie and you said no better reconsider to avoid stories that touch the heart in future.
Search the Police
Don’t worry, you didn’t read that wrong. You, whose name is contained in the Search Warrant, not your best friend o! or your guys, need to search the person who will conduct the search, in this case, the police before the search begins. This is necessary in order to avoid a situation where a person claims that incriminating materials were planted in his home by the police officer that conducted the search. Don’t be shy, after all, the police is your friend, right. Right.
Other Relevant Facts
Now that we know what to do before the Police Search our home, we should also note the Police Officer’s right to ingress and egress.
This simply means that the Police have a right to forcefully enter and exit your home but this can only be done if they have tried everything possible to peaceably enter your home but you’re forming ‘stronghead’. If this is the case, the police will do like Jason Statham in an action movie and break in but don’t worry, if they don’t find anything or there was no reasonable cause to believe in the Search Warrant, after all their action film, then the person who instigated the Search Warrant will be held liable in damages for malicious procurement of a search warrant. If they do then all I can say is, I hope you have the phone number of a good lawyer.
Police and Searches: Can the Police Search without a Warrant?
Written by Ezeoke Onyinyechi V.