Private Legal Practitioner, Martin Kpebu says it is illegal for police officers to punish accused persons who refuse to write their statements after an arrest.

Speaking on JoyNews’ The Law, he stated that it is people’s right to choose whether to tell their version of what had ensued or not.

The burden to prove that the accused committed an offense falls on the prosecution and not the suspect, he said.

“At the police station they will say they want to take your caution statement, they will read your Miranda rights to you that you have the right to keep quiet or say something, but whatever you say will be tended in court.”

“So you can write your version if you want to tell the story. If you don’t want to say anything, you will write that I will not say anything.”

Mr. Kpebu said that the police tend to punish accused persons if they choose not to write a statement adding that many suspects have complained about such ill-treatment.

“(This is ) one thing we encourage our brothers the policemen to desist from. You will see cases where the suspects don’t want to say anything then they (the police) say ‘okay then we will not grant bail, we will rather go to court’, they won’t give you access to your phone (among others),” he said.

Citing an example, Mr Kpebu said that the suspects accused of allegedly plotting a coup when arrested chose not to give statements. But, they were still given bail by the court.

He said that “they were so annoyed by the manner in which they were deceived by NIB and arrested so they said they will write nothing. We were in court on Saturday, the Attorney General didn’t make any fuss about it, the court granted bail because the burden is on the prosecution.”

Mr Kpebu added that if the prosecution have evidence to prove the crime and they are confident in it, they should not be bothered if the accused do not write a statement.

He urged accused persons who are punished for failing to write a statement to stand their ground and be resolute in the law.

“It is your right to be silent so if you are silent and they try to punish you, don’t worry after a while the police will change. But it is your right to keep silent, so exercise it.”

“I won’t say there is a price to pay, that price you are paying is illegal. Those who get punished just persevere, as we are developing and building more schools, hospitals, these laws criminal justice has to grow.”