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Head of a Police Station Must Make Monthly Report of Arrests to a Magistrate.

Head of a Police Station Must Make Monthly Report of Arrests to a Magistrate

Head of a Police Station Must Make Monthly Report of Arrests to a Magistrat. Daily Law Tips (Tip 638) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

Gone are the days suspects (including mere civil debtors) where detained for months/years in police stations and other offices of law enforcement agencies, without arraignment (without being charged to court). Part of the innovations that the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, brought on law enforcement agencies is mandatory reporting of arrests. This work focuses on the statutory duty of a head of a police stations and any law enforcement agency to provide monthly report of all persons arrested without warrant.

Prior to the enactment of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 (ACJA 2015), most law enforcement agencies in Nigeria, where used as debt recovery offices by both the rich and poor. Then, any person willing to pay recovery commissions could use any of the law enforcement agencies to recover debt in cities and rural areas. Shamefully, some of the debt recoveries where done officially (with the support/attention of the leadership of the concerned law enforcement agency), while some where informal (by senior /junior officer intimidating debtors). At some people, many Nigerian would have believed that owing debt was a criminal offence.

Debt recoveries and settlement of civil disputes by law enforcement agencies, were achieved by the law enforcement agencies through several serious violations of fundamental human rights. Almost all the law enforcement agencies have several judgments of Courts (including the Supreme Court) warning them to desist from debt recoveries. Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, flowing from their name and powers were to recover stolen monies among other things, in some cases, there were found recovering debt (from civil disputes) instead of loots. However, since monetary damages and even cost of litigation were often paid by the concerned law enforcement agencies, using tax payers fund (budget), law enforcement agents were not deterred from their obvious lucrative business of debt recovery and corruption.

Most corrupt practices of arresting a person for debt recovery are without warrants. Even the arrested persons are often not documented, unless the unscrupulous arresting agent/agency finds a way to force in a charge of criminal conversion, fraud or theft on the arrested persons. Hence, the arrested persons where often never charged to court rather allowed to rot in their infected wounds inflicted by the arresting and detaining-agency, until debts are paid. It was a clear case of kidnap by law enforcement agents.

This has changed (especially in cities) since the advent of the ACJA 2015. The 2015 federal legislation has clearly emphasized that no person can be arrested for civil disputes and debt recoveries. It must be added that almost all the states in Nigeria, have also enacted their own separate Administration of Criminal Justice Laws (ACJL) covering same issues in the ACJA.

Now there is a statutory duty on any officer in charge of a police station or any law enforcement agency, to prepare and send a monthly report, on the last working day of every month, to the nearest Magistrate, on the cases of all suspects arrested without warrant, whether the suspects have been admitted to bail or not. With this duty and the visitation of the nearest Magistrate to the police stations/law enforcement agencies for a monthly inspection, there will not be any illegal arrest/detention, any more.

Monthly report of the head of a police station/office of a law enforcement agency must contain the following information about any arrested or detained person; full name, occupation and residential address of the person; the alleged offence with date and circumstance of the persons arrest. It will also include personal information like height; photograph; full fingerprint impressions; or any other means of identification. Click to read more on the information required from an arrested person in Nigeria. 

The success of the intentions and inventions of the ACJA 2015 and the respective ACJLs in states across Nigeria, rests on sincere diligent enforcement by all concerned stakeholders. If a law enforcement agency fails to make/give its monthly report or gives a fake report without same being verified, unlawful arrest and detention may continue. If the Magistrate in charge of an area fails to monitor/supervisor a law enforcement through physical inspection or detainees are secretly moved/hidden during inspections, then unlawful arrest and detention will continue. Cameras, bio-tech machines and other technological supports, should be deployed. This will also ensure there is no conspiracy between the law enforcement agencies and their supervisors (the Magistrates).

The ACJA 2015 states that were no monthly report is made by the head of a police station/office of a law enforcement agency to the supervising Magistrate, the supervising Magistrate should report same to the Chief Judge of the State and the Attorney General of the State for remedial actions. One is not sure what the remedial actions will be and how often any such remedial actions have been taken so far. How many stations and offices have failed to send in their reports since 2015 and how many Magistrates have reported. There is need for interested organizations to carry out research on this issue for possible further amendments to the ACJA 2015 and policy modification.  Our laws must grow with our society, there is need for non-doctrinal and sociological researches on these issues. Click to read related works on Administration for Criminal Justice Act.


  1. Sections 15, 33, 34, 494 and 495 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015 and its equivalent in states across Nigeria.










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