Police search of a building or premises may be carried out with a view to discovering contraband, illicit or stolen property, or some incriminating evidence to be used in the prosecution of a criminal action. The following is a guide on what to do if you are faced with a Police search.

POLICE SEARCH AND SEIZURE: WHAT TO DO IF FACED WITH

Police search of a building or premises may be carried out by law enforcement agents with a view to discovering contraband, illicit or stolen property, or some incriminating evidence to be used in the prosecution of a criminal action. Before police search can be carried out, there must be a search warrant authorizing the search. If not, such search will be unlawful.
The power to Search includes the power to arrest the occupant of the premises. A law enforcement agent who enters a building for the purpose of lawfully arresting a suspect may remove any documents or materials found in the building which he reasonably believes to be material evidence in relation to the crime for which the suspect is arrested or which implicates the suspect in some other crime.

The following is your guide on what to do if you are faced with a search operation by law enforcement agents at your premises.

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  • Ask to know the reason for the search.
  • Ask to be shown the search warrant signed by a magistrate or a senior police officer. Any search conducted without a warrant is illegal. However, in an emergency situation (for example, where there is a distress call) a security agent can enter and search your premises without a warrant.
  • Do not obstruct the security official
  • Try and remember the official’s name, badge number & the patrol vehicle number.
  • If the law enforcement agents are in mufti, ask them to identify themselves.
  • If you are assaulted and wounded by the security agents, take photographs of the wounds ask for treatment.
  • Try and identify any witnesses.
  • Anything you tell the police or security agent can be used against you and could land you in prison.
  • If you are arrested in the operation, remain silent, do not offer explanations and do not volunteer any information. Understand that whatever you say can be used against you in court.
  • Ask to make or sign any statement or forms in the presence of your lawyer.
  • Understand that you are presumed innocent of a crime until the contrary is proven at the court of law.

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Involve A Lawyer

  • You should only make or sign a statement in the presence of your lawyer.
  • Your lawyer may covertly record your interview session with the police to obtain any firsthand evidence of unprofessional conduct against the police officer.
  • Where your lawyer believes that the search by the security official was unlawful, unauthorized and without reasonable or probable cause, your lawyer can file a claim for trespass, harassment and for damages for breach of fundamental rights to dignity of human person, personal liberty, private and family life and privacy.

NEXT STEP?

Understand that the information provided in this article is for general informational purposes only and must not be construed as a substitute for legal guidance. If you faced a search operation at your premises and have a feeling that the operation was unlawful, unauthorized or that your rights were breached; you can commence an action for restitution and also challenge any evidence derived from such operation. Seek proper legal help and assistance from a criminal defense lawyer. For a review of your case, request consultation on – Telephone: 08187019206 | Email: lexartifexllp@lexartifexllp.com | Website: www.lexartifexllp.com.
EDOABASI UDO is a Barrister, Solicitor and Consultant at Lex Artifex, LLP.

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