Lawyer and Law Lecturer at GIMPA, Dr. Justice Srem Sai, has disclosed that police officers do not have the authority to question a suspect after their arrest if their attorney is not present.

Speaking to JoyNews’ Samson Lardy Anyenini, the lawyer explained that interrogating a suspect without a lawyer was unconstitutional and that the training manual of police officers teaches them to inform the suspect of their right to counsel upon arrest.

“A police officer cannot start asking you questions when your lawyer is not around,” he said on The Law on Sunday.

Dr Sai added that if the suspect in question accepts to waive their right to counsel, “the law says the police officer should call an independent witness, and let the person sign that he hs been given a waiver.”

He also disclosed that the accused must write a declaration indicating “the accused has been duly advised of their right to remain silent, that their refusal or decision to speak is voluntary, and that anything they will say will be used as evidence” on the police statement form.

The lecturer said that the suspect is frequently forced to sign a statement that was written by the police rather than the accused.

He condemned that act and deemed it problematic since, in his opinion, the accused might not be certain of what was written in the statement.

The legal practitioner highlighted that ultimately, the court will consider if there is evidence that the accused provided their statement voluntarily.

For this reason, Dr. Sai advised that, should an illiterate confront the police in such a situation, the person should remain silent.

 “…make sure you get a lawyer of your choice. And if you cannot get a lawyer of your choice, I’ll still advise you to remain silent until you appear before a judge.

“Then if you have anything to say, you can say it because the judge is a guarantee that whatever you are saying is being said voluntarily,” he told Samson Lardy Anyenini.

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.