Police Random Search Of Phones Is Still A Crime, An Infringement On An Individual’s Right- Awosanya

September 28, 2020
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Popular Human Rights Activist Segun Awosanya has said that random search of phones by members of the Nigerian Police Force, NPF, is a crime and an Infringement On the right of an individual.

He explained that the police cannot search a person’s phone without a warrant from a credible court proving that there is an ongoing investigation with reasonable suspicion connected to that individual.

Awosanya said this when he was responding to Nigeria’s fast rising musician and rapper Divine Ikubor popularly known as Rema who via a tweet on Monday said Nigerian government signed a new Law enabling the police to arrest and search your phones without warrant.

Rema had in a tweet advised Nigerian youths that the trends to end police brutality isn’t enough that the have to wake up as there is already a new Law that allow police arrest and search phones without warrant.

Responding to him, Awosanya asked him to kindly state the Law that enables the searching of Phones under any provision of Law in Nigeria.

He said it was misinformation taken too far by a verified account, an unfortunate way to rile the people over falsehood while describing it as Fake News alert .

He said, “Since we are dealing with a village of sub-literates who would rather spread untruth as fact, here is yet another attempt to educate those in panic mode as riled again. Globally, probable cause & reasonable grounds are essential to stopping crime before they happen.

“No reasonable reform will remove this from Policing, which is beyond combating crime after the fact but ensuring incidents are nipped before they materialize. The section so misread/misinterpreted by lay attention seekers is not new. It’s a global provision retained in the Act.

“Probable cause for arrest exists when facts & circumstances within the police officer’s knowledge would lead a reasonable person to believe that the suspect has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime.

“Probable cause must come from specific facts & circumstances, rather than simply from the officer’s hunch/suspicion. “Detentions” short of arrest do not require probable cause. Such temporary detentions require only “reasonable suspicion.” All terms available on Google for free.

“This includes car stops, pedestrian stops and detention of occupants while officers execute a search warrant. “Reasonable suspicion” means specific facts which would lead a reasonable person to believe criminal activity was at hand and further investigation was required.

“This has nothing to do with Phone searches which requires a Warrant from a credible court proving you are already earmarked/mentioned in an ongoing investigation. Random search of phones is a Crime & an infringement on your rights which the New Law frowns upon.

“Detentions can ripen into arrests, and the point where that happens is not always clear. Often, police state that they are arresting a person, place him/her in physical restraints, or take other action crossing the line into arrest.

“These police actions may trigger the constitutional requirement of probable cause. Someone arrested or charged without legal cause may seek redress through a civil lawsuit for false arrest or malicious prosecution. This was also provided for in the New Police Act.

“I, however, understand the root cause of the paranoia and the untreated PTSDs being demonstrated online. I’m also aware of the distrust of the current admin and Police system, but the TRUTH remains our greatest weapon. Don’t become the Demon you fight. Stay True”, he added.

Awosanya is popularly known for convening the campaign against police brutality in Nigeria on social media, the movement code named #EndSARs which actually yielded result.

Following his dogged commitment to the cause, the President Muhammadu Buhari  led government  announced a total overhaul of the department of Special Anti-Robbery Squad popularly known as SARS. 

Segun was drafted as a member of the presidential panel to overhaul the department, which is now known as FSARS.
His contact was added to the list of appropriate channels to now report issues of police brutality in Nigeria.

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