STREET LAW SERIES
WITH DANIEL KIP, ESQ.
SEARCHES PART 2
(SEARCH OF PREMISES)
1. QST: Can a search be conducted on my premises?
2. QST: What circumstances could give rise to a search on my premises?
ANS: When there is a complaint or allegation of the commission of an offence, especially one that concerns being in possession of stolen property, hard drugs, expired or fake drugs, gun running, currency counterfeiting or fake currency trafficking. A search is also necessary to confirm or verify a fact.
3. QST: What must be done before a search is conducted on my premises?
ANS: The Police or security agent seeking to search your premises must obtain a search warrant first. Where they fail to obtain a warrant before the search, it is an infringement on your right to privacy. Such search is unlawful.
4. QST: Are there instances when my premises could be searched without a warrant?
ANS: Yes. A search can be conducted without a warrant where:
(a) A person to be arrested under a warrant is within your premises
(b) Such search is conducted in the presence of a Justice of Peace who has the power to grant a search warrant in your area.
(c) A security agent reasonably believes or suspect that anything liable to forfeiture or is in connection with the commission of an offence, is in your premises.
(d) The Court gives an order to rescue or restore an abducted person unlawfully detained in your premises.
5. QST: Who can issue a search warrant?
ANS: A Judge or Magistrate or Justice of Peace. Where it is a case bordering on fraud, a Superior police officer above the rank of a Cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police can issue a search warrant.
6. QST: Can my premises be searched on a weekend?
ANS: Yes, even on a Sunday or Public holiday.
7. QST: Within what time is it lawful for law agents to search my premises?
ANS: Within 5am to 8pm. It may however take place at any other time if there is an endorsement that it be done at such other time.
8. QST: If a Police officer has gotten a search warrant and I still prevent him from conducting a search, can he forcefully search my premises?
ANS: Yes. He can even break out if you entrap him after he had gone into your premises to conduct a search.
9. QST: Does the law afford me any protection during a search?
ANS: Yes. You have the right to be present and even call two other persons of your choice to witness the search. A list of all the things seized (and the actual places they were found during the search) is to be drawn up by the person conducting the search. The list is to be signed and sealed by the witnesses. You also can request a copy of the list. Notably, where the search is later found to be malicious, the complainant who caused the procurement of the search (warrant) shall be liable in a civil action. If you are a Muslim woman under Purdah, you should be given adequate notice and reasonable facility to withdraw before any such search is conducted on your premises.
10. QST: Where nobody is charged after the search, can the items recovered from my premises be given back to me?
ANS: Yes, especially where such item is not prohibited by law or not needed to compensate someone else that should receive it. Know that where you are charged, the items may be kept back as evidence, even if the search was unlawfully conducted. Also, only items specified in the search warrant are to be seized, unless such other item found during the search is also incriminating. If the item is not incriminating, detaining such item longer than necessary will render the officer liable in damages.
11. QST: Can I request to search a police officer before he or she searches me?
ANS: Yes. Although, this is not a legal requirement.
This Series is brought to you by the NYSC LEGAL AID CDS Group, CALABAR.
It’s sponsored by Daniel Kip, Esq. You may Contact the NYSC Legal Aid CDS Group through Austin-Vicker @+2348130459235