The Spokesperson for Nigeria Police Force, Muyiwa Adejobi has said no police officer has the right to check another person’s mobile phone except if such a phone is marked as an exhibit in a pending case before a court of law.
Adejobi said this on his Twitter handle on Wednesday, explaining that any police personnel found doing that should be described as a scavenger.
“No policeman has the right to check one’s phone anywhere except the phone is an exhibit in a case under investigation. Any policeman who does that is not a policeman, but rather a scavenger,” he tweeted.
In October 2020, the then Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu also banned personnel of the police from indiscriminately browsing through mobile phones and laptops belonging to members of the public.
“All Tactical Squads must also desist from the invasion of the privacy of citizens, particularly through an indiscriminate and unauthorized search of mobile phones, laptops and other smart devices,” Adamu said in a statement.
Often tagged ‘stop and search’, hundreds of Nigerian youths have fallen victim to extortion. Many have been forced to make self-indictive statements by personnel of the Nigeria Police. The police usually tagged them as fraudsters even if it was only a cryptocurrency application that was found inside their phone.
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Such illegal demands by police personnel to check the mobile phones and laptops of members of the Nigerian public have led to extrajudicial killings, extortions, illegal arrests and harassment.
In November 2019, leaders in Nigeria’s tech industry launched a campaign for survivors of attacks by Nigeria police officers on young tech entrepreneurs and workers for the commencement of legal proceedings.
The #StopRobbingUs campaign was launched in September 2019, seeking an end to the practice of unlawful arrest, attack, kidnap and forcible withdrawal of funds from young people with laptops or any electronic gadget by officers of the Nigerian police.
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Amnesty International said in a 2016 report that victims of SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad- now defunct) brutality “are subjected to various methods of torture and ill-treatment to extract information and ‘confessions.’”