Criminal Litigation: The Roller Coaster

I like to see criminal litigation as this scene in a Hollywood (or Nollywood *yinmu*) action movie, where the protagonist thief gets into the safe, everything is looking good, she gains easy entrance but alas she has to bend and twist through those red laser security thingy’s. Yeah! Criminal litigation is easy enough; [I mean, who doesn’t know bad thing] but there are 4 laws and most times we are tested on their differences. I like to make tables, so after reading I can glance at them to remind myself. After a while you begin to get used to the ‘voice’ of these laws. Some are typically more forward thinking than others. Some are meaner. The table here is on arrests and searches:









Issuing arrest warrant** Magistrate/Judge Magistrate/Judge Magistrate/Judge/JP Magistrate/Judge/JP
Time and venue for executing Anytime (except public holz and Sunday) Anywhere (Except Court in Sitting or Legislative house in session unless Speaker permits) Ditto Ditto Ditto
 Arrest Warrant on demand* Within 24 HOURS Within reasonable time Within reasonable time As soon as practicable
Issuing search warrant** Magistrate/Judge /Police officer under Section 28 Police Act Magistrate/Judge/Police officer under Section 28 Police Act Magistrate/Judge/JP/Police officer under Section 28 Police Act Magistrate/Judge/JP/Police officer under Section 28 Police Act
Specific search procedure***


N/A N/A Applicable Applicable
Opposite sex searches Prohibits opposite sex searches Prohibits only man-on- woman searches **** Prohibits only man-on- woman searches**** Prohibits opposite sex searches
Search of premises having women who don’t appear in public? *****


Not provided for see however Section 7(3) Not provided for see however Section 12(3) Provided for Provided for


*Generally where you are executing an arrest with warrant you should:

a) inform the arrestee of the existence of a warrant

b) show him/her.

However if you don’t have a warrant with you, still inform and go ahead to arrest – it is lawful. But if he demands to see the warrant you must show him in due time. See Sections 28 ACJL, 29 CPL, 61 CPCL, 44 ACJA

**Search warrant is the only warrant that may (under specific circumstances) be ISSUED by a police officer. An arrest warrant can under NO circumstances be issued by a police officer.

  • Can a police officer arrest WITHOUT WARRANT? Yes.
  • Can he execute an arrest warrant? Yes.
  • Can he ISSSUE an arrest warrant? No.
  • Can he issue a Search Warrant? Yes, but ONLY under the circumstances listed in Section 28 Police Act

***These procedures are:

  • A search warrant is to be executed before two respectable inhabitants of the premises chosen by the person to whom the warrant is addressed.
  • The person who wants to search should submit himself for search
  • The occupant of the premises (or his rep.) should be allowed to be present or get a list of the things found during the search

****In the areas where only man-on-woman searches are expressly prohibited one can say that strictly speaking a woman can lawfully search a man but because the laws later on prescribe that all searches must be ‘with due regard to decency’ (Section 82 CPC); and because of what actually goes on in practice, a woman ought not to search a man.

*****The idea is that if a premises is to be searched and a woman who doesn’t appear in public is in there (I think they are called women in Purdah), the woman should be informed and given an opportunity to leave unless she is the one to be arrested. See Sections 79 CPC,

Notice I didn’t treat the whole topic cuz that would just be a copy and paste of textbooks and what you already know. The important thing is to note those subjects where there are differences in the jurisdictions.

Thank you for reading, comment below or rant to me at

Also I’d love to know if there’s any topic you think I should discuss. Thanks in advance.



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