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A lawyer’s advice to the newly commissioned ASPs

As police officers, your primary duty is detecting and preventing crimes and criminals

Dear 418  Cadet ASPs,

You are by virtue of your current status, leaders and professionals and crisis managers. In the thin line between today and yesterday, you are imbued with the power to restrict people’s liberties and freedom. You can arrest with or without warrants. You can issue the warrants, bear arms and wield legitimate force on fellow human beings. You can detain human beings in cubicles called cells. By your ingress rights, you can violate peoples’ privacy without actually violating the law. You are law enforcers and superintendents of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. You are all the many things you are.

But I wish also to candidly advise you by reminding you that power comes with responsibility and responsibility comes with duty. Be reminded further that all duties have corresponding rights and vice versa.

As police officers, your primary duty is detecting and preventing crimes and criminals. You have, therefore, no business exerting your powers on innocent members of the public going about their civic and contractual pursuits. Do not prosecute people emotionally or for personal reasons. You may find yourselves entangled in many malicious prosecution suits that may end up embarrassing you. With the advancement in the extant Nigerian laws, individual officers may not always necessarily hide under their organisation’s name.

By item 392 (or so) of the police code of conduct, you may be forced to personally carry your cross for (in) actions done in your capacity as officers. I know this a lot as I have gotten just that done to lots to erring superior officers. Yes, you are big men and women, but the law stands tall above you all.

From time to time, spare moments to ponder about the new Police Act especially section 4 thereof. Memorise chapter 4 of Nigeria’s Constitution and familiarise yourselves with Nigeria’s Anti-Torture Act and the ratified Banjul Charter among many other key laws. I know quite a number of you are both law graduates and officers but memories need from time to time to be refreshed.

Be ready for surprise and paradoxes as you will find in the circle of high and low ranks of your chosen profession many instances of abuse and flagrant disregard of the very law you are tasked to protect and enforce. Please, always do what is right. I assure you, God, people and posterity will see, judge and reward you.

I implore you to use your enormous discretion justly and judiciously. Harbour nothing but integrity so you may be adjudged as upholders and not violators of people’s rights.

May God be with you as you invest your time, intellect and welfare towards national peace and security.


Abba Hikima can be reached through [email protected]

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