Nigeria: Update to NGA106121 of 11 June 2018 on police invitation letters, including legal status, uses and format; consequences for a person who does not comply with a police invitation letter (2016-May 2018) [NGA106209.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

The Response to Information Request NGA106121 of 11 June 2018 was updated to include a new sample of an invitation letter provided by a Managing Solicitor of a firm of barristers and solicitors of the Nigerian Supreme Court based in Ikeja (Lagos state) on 25 May 2018.

The information in this Response was provided by the Managing Solicitor in correspondence with the Research Directorate on 25 and 28 May 2018.

1. Use and Legal Status of Police Invitation Letters

The Managing Solicitor indicated that there is no provision in the Nigerian Police Act or the Administration of Criminal Justice Act regarding police invitations; police invitations are merely procedural (25 May 2018).

The Managing solicitor also provided the information in the following paragraphs regarding the use and legal status of police invitation letters:

Police invitation letters are sent to allow suspects to submit themselves voluntarily for questioning. They have "no legal backing," but it is "expected" of "responsible citizens" to honour police invitations. Although there is "no specific procedure or punishment" regarding a failure to respond to a police invitation letter, the police "generally have the power to arrest without a warrant," and "that includes arresting [someone] who fails to respond to [a police] invitation" letter. The arrest will be predicated on the offence under investigation, and not for failing to respond to the police invitation itself. Someone who fails to respond to a police invitation letter may be prosecuted for the offence for which he or she was invited if found culpable, but cannot be prosecuted for failing to respond to a police invitation letter.

The police can send follow-ups to invitation letters, sometimes "up to two or three times or even more," but sending follow-ups is "not mandatory" (25 May 2018).

2. Format of Police Invitation Letters

The Managing Solicitor indicated that there are

generally two types of [police] invitation letters. The first one comes on the letterhead of the police department that issues it. Then the body is entirely typewritten, including the name and address of the recipient. This format is normally used by higher police commands. (25 May 2018)

Samples of letters of invitation of this first type, issued by the Office of the Commissioner of Police for the state of Lagos and by the Deputy Inspector General of Police, General Investigation Section, and provided by the Managing Solicitor, are attached to this Response (Attachments 1 and 2). In subsequent correspondence, the Managing Solicitor explained that the General Investigation Section is headed by a Commissioner of Police [as mentioned in Attachment 2] who reports to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (28 May 2018).

According to the Managing Solicitor's 25 May 2018 correspondence,

the second type of police invitation letters is the one normally used by local police posts, divisions and area commands. It is usually a pre-printed black and white form with spaces for insertion of the names and addresses of the recipient and the person whom [the recipient] is to see. This is more common and usual for lesser offenses. (25 May 2018)

A sample of the second type of a police invitation letter, provided by the Managing Solicitor, is attached to this Response (Attachment 3). The Managing Solicitor explained that this sample is "an adaptation of the general form used across Nigeria" (25 May 2018).

The Managing Solicitor also provided the information in the following paragraphs regarding the format of police invitation letters:

There are always logos on police invitation letters, though there are "slight variations" in the logos "because each department prints for its use." There are "usually" reference numbers, especially for invitation letters issued by the office of the Commissioner of Police and by the office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police.

Letterheads for police invitation letters of the first type contain the address of the office issuing them. As seen in Attachment 1, which is an example of a letter issued by the office of the Commissioner of Police, the addresses are printed on the letterheads and "generally" indicate the phone numbers and the "email/twitter/Instagram addresses" of the issuing office. For letters issued by local police posts, divisions or area commands, both the address and phone numbers are "normally" handwritten by the police officers who fill the form. "Email/Twitter/Instagram addresses are rare, and possibly abnormal" in letters issued by police posts, divisions or area commands.

Stamps appear in "almost all cases, with some few exceptions." The information contained in the stamps includes the name of the department, a signature and the date. Police invitation letters must always be signed, and they are "usually signed by a superior police officer from the rank of cadet Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP)." There is "no particular prescribed standard" concerning the information included in the body of the text of police invitation letters.

The format of police invitation letters issued by police posts, divisions or area commands is "almost always" the same across Nigeria and across police stations, and "this is because the same form is used by them all." There could be some variations of the format of police invitation letters such as those issued by the Commissioner of Police, depending on the office issuing the letter. (25 May 2018).

Further and corroborating information regarding the use, legal status and format of police invitation letters could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Managing Solicitor, Firm of Solicitors and Barristers in Ikeja. 28 May 2018. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Managing Solicitor, Firm of Solicitors and Barristers in Ikeja. 25 May 2018. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Law firm with offices in Abuja, Lagos, Ilorin; law firm with offices in Abuja and Victoria Island; Nigeria – Police Departments in Abuja, Kano, Yola, Makurdi, Lokja, Umuahia, Sokoto.

Internet sites, including: ecoi.net; European Asylum Support Office; Interpol; Nigeria Police Force; UN – Refworld.

Attachments

  1. Nigeria. 5 April 2017. Nigeria Police Force. "Investigation Activities: Letter of Invitation." Sample provided by the Managing Solicitor of the Firm of Solicitors and Barristers in Ikeja, 25 May 2018.
  2. Nigeria. 7 April 2017. Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department. "Invitation Letter." Sample provided by the Managing Solicitor of the Firm of Solicitors and Barristers in Ikeja, 25 May 2018.
  3. Nigeria. N.d. Nigeria Police Force. "Invitation to the Police." Sample provided by the Managing Solicitor of the Firm of Solicitors and Barristers in Ikeja, 25 May 2018.