The Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Solomon Arase, on Thursday in Benin, warned operatives of the Edo State Police Command to avoid the practice of detaining people indefinitely to enable them shop for evidence to incriminate them.
He also warned operatives of the Force against interfering in civil offences relating to land matters and the criminalisation of such matters.
Arase gave the warning while addressing officers and men of the Command during an official visit to the state.
The IGP who described himself as a strong advocate of intelligence-led policing as well as human rights approach to policing, charged the officers to adhere strictly to the tenets of human rights, as enshrined in the 1999 Constitution.
“I don’t expect most of you to bring people into our facility and detain them indefinitely while you are shopping for evidence. You must be able to have evidence before you bring them into our facility," Arase said.
“You cannot abridge the fundamental rights of Nigerians; you cannot treat them as if they are people who have been conquered. You must respect these rights."
Arase decried the incidences of policemen dabbling into land matters, which he said could subject the police to unnecessary litigation.
According to him, only civil courts, rather than the police, have the constitutional power to allocate land, just as he noted that the police could adopt alternative dispute resolution methods when there are clear indications that civil transactions could degenerate into criminal cases.
“One of the issues that I have had to tackle is the incidence of people dabbling into land matters. The police do not have the constitutional power to allocate land to anybody; they cannot do that. The only people that have the right to do that is the civil court," he said.
“So, you people must be able to draw the thin line between what is criminal, what is civil and what is commercial because whenever you dabble into civil and commercial issues, you attract civil litigation to the Nigeria Police Force. And when you do that, you have to take garnishee orders."
The IGP announced that the welfare policy of the force was geared towards improving the lives of the Inspectors and rank and file, whom he said play major roles in efficient policing, even as he commended the support of the Edo State Government to ensuring effective police operations.
He disclosed that over 40,000 police personnel have been promoted to various ranks, adding that more promotional exams would be conducted to ensure that hard work is rewarded accordingly.
Earlier in his speech, the State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Chris Ezike, explained that the command recorded remarkable success in the fight against crime in the state.
He said a total of 749 suspects had been arrested by the command, out of which 309 of them were charged to court.