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Identification Parade under Nigerian law



Introduction to Identification Parade Procedure(IDP)

Whenever a crime is committed, someone is responsible for the crime. Someone is also the victim of the crime.

At the meeting point of both the suspect and the victim, if the contact between the victim and the suspect was so brief; that the victim of the crime, couldn’t have comprehensive observation of the suspect, identification Parade under Nigerian law, becomes necessary

Usually, the victim of the crime will call or report to police. The police will go into investigation or immediate dispatch to the scene of the crime. The police can make arrest base on the information they were briefed, and then the victim of the crime or eye witness, will be required to identify his attackers.


Where the suspect was not arrested at the scene of the crime, identification Parade (IDP) will also be necessary.

What is identification Parade?

Identification parade is a parade conducted by court or police for the purpose of ascertaining the person suspected to have committed a crime.

This process of identifying the person associated with the commission of crime, may be done by visual recognition, voice, fingerprint, photographic evidence, identification Parade, etc.

In identification Parade, the suspect, along with several “fillers” or “foils”—people of similar height, build, and complexion are assembled in a straight line. The victim of crime or witness will be required to identify the suspect.

This people to be used in the parade may be prisoners, actors, police officers, or volunteers, and they will be made to stand side-by-side, in profile.

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Types of Identification parade

There are majorly two types of Identification parade under Nigerian law:

a. Police Identification parade

This type of identification parade is conducted by police at the police station or any other convenient place. It is done during investigation for the purpose of clarity of identity of the suspect.

In Britain, this type of parade is referred to as “identity parade“. In US, it is referred to as “police lineup.”

In the police parade, the suspect need not be in profile. The picture or video of the suspect can be assembled, together with similar pictures or videos, for the victim of crime or witness to identify.

The use of Video or pictures are not regular. The physical parading of suspect in the mist of other persons is most common.

b. Court Identification parade

This type of Identification parade is conducted when a criminal trial has commenced, before court and under the supervision of the magistrate or judge.

Purpose of Identification parade.

The sole purpose of Identification parade is to ascertain that the suspect is actually the one that is responsible for the commission of the crime.

In the parade, a proper identification of the suspect can further strengthen the evidence of the prosecutor during criminal trial. But it does not mean that once the suspect is identified, that he has been convicted or that he will be convicted.

In other words, identification parade is not a sine qua non to conviction of the crime alleged. The Prosecution will still discharge the burden of proof place on it by law.

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The Court in the case of Utto v State (2022) 2 NWLR( PT.1814) P.378 summarized the purpose of IDP thus:

“The essence of an Identification Parade is to enable an eye witness who never knew the person accused of a crime before, to pick him out from amongst other people.”

When Identification parade will be Required.

a. Where the victim did not know the accused person before the incidence, and that he duly came into contact with him for the first time during the incident.

b. Where the witness or the victim was confronted by the offender for a very short time, and

c. Where due to time constraint and circumstance, the victim did not have full opportunity of observing the features of the accused person or offender. See Zebulon v State (2019) 11 NWLR( Pt. 1684) p.388. See also Famuyiwa v State(2018) 5 NWLR (Pt. 1613) 515 See also .See also Utto v State (2022) 2 NWLR( PT.1814) P.379

Procedure for Identification Parade under Nigerian law

  • Persons with similar features are arranged together with the suspect(s). The features relataes to heights, complexion, stature etc.
  • The persons so arranged must be at least 8 in numbers, where there are only 1 persons suspected to have committed the crime. But if there are 2 suspects, the number should be a minimum of 12.
  • The accused person(suspect) will chose anywhere to stand in the line of persons arranged.
  • The person who claims to have come in contact with the witness will be asked to identify who he saw.
  • The police officer who supervised the exercise will write his report and fill the requisite form.

In court IDP, the procedure is very similar to police IDP. The only difference is that, it is conducted inside court before a judge or magistrate unlike police IDP which is conducted in police stations.

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Is Identification Parade(IDP) Compulsory in Every Criminal case?

It is only necessary whenever there is doubt as to the ability of a victim to recognize the suspect, who carried out or participated in carrying out the crime alleged or where the Identity of the suspect is in dispute.

IDP is not mandatory where there is cogent and compelling evidence linking the accused to the crime on the day the incident happened .

Again, IDP is not required where the suspect was caught at the scene of the crime after he has committed the crime or while committing the crime.

It is also not required, where the victim of the crime or witnesses knew the accused person before the commission of the crime and would not have mistaken to his Identity. See also Utto v State (2022) 2 NWLR( PT.1814) P.379

Again, where the accused person has identified himself, there will be no need for further IDP. see Owolabi v State (2019) 2 NWLR (Pt.1657) P.529

At the End of IDP what happens?

What happens depends on the result of the IDP excercise. Where the suspect was rightly identified, he will be charged as per the offence allegedly committed. But where the witness identified the wrong person, the suspect would be released.

Where there is doubt as to the Identity of whom the witness or victim saw, such doubt is resolved in favour of the Defendant. See Ochiba v State( 2011) 17 NWLR(Pt.1277) 663

What the law require court to do in Identification Parade

In resolving issues of Identity of suspect(Defendant), courts must take into consideration:
a.the circumstances in which the witness saw the suspect
b.The length of time spent
c.The lighting condition
d.The opportunity if any to make important observation
e. Whether there has been previous contact. See the case of Zebulon v State supra at. p 389. See also Utto v State (2022) 2 NWLR( PT.1814) P.378


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