How to write a police statement upon arrest
Ever wondered why some Police officers often try to convince suspects to write a statement after which they come up with bogus amount to secure bail or threaten to go to court?
Well, the suspect may have just incriminated him/herself. There have been cases where a suspect wrote something contrary to what actually transpired perhaps under duress, and proving otherwise posed a huge challenge.
While it is not in doubt that many statements made at Police stations were done under coercion, it is not an easy task for a lawyer to prove this and convince the Court, not to rely on such statements, or attach any weight to it.
Having this in mind, it is pertinent that a suspect takes due care in writing a statement. It is equally advisable to insist on the right to have an Attorney or a Lawyer of choice, available before making any statement.
Section 35 (2) of the Nigerian Constitution as Amended provides for the right of an accused person(suspect) to a Lawyer and section 17 (3) of the Rivers State Administration of Criminal Justice Law provides for the statement to be taken in the presence of a lawyer.
Thus, not only does a suspect have the right to a Lawyer but the Lawyer’s presence is required when a written statement is being made by the suspect.
There are have been instances where police officers would write a statement and compel a suspect to sign the statement with a threat of death or incarceration. There have also been instances where the police officers promised not to go to Court.
A suspect should not be in a haste as whatever is written hurriedly just to get out of the police station could make or mar the suspect's case. Many innocent people have ended up in jail because of poorly written statements.
Where a suspect is given a sheet of paper and asked to write a statement, the following can be used as a guide:
Brief narration of the incident that led to the police invitation or arrest.
Narration should include whether you know any person involved in the matter, how you know that person/ your relationship, what you know about any property in the matter, etc.
Brevity and simplicity are very important because the more a suspect writes, the more the likelihood of flaws or mistakes in the written statement.
Author : Kekeocha Justin