Discourse strategies of handling denials in police – suspect interaction in Ibadan, Nigeria

Adesina Bukunmi Sunday, Temidayo Akinrinlola


Studies on police interrogation have examined interrogating police officers’ (IPOs’) deployment of power abuse in gleaning confessional statements from suspects. However, studies on how IPOs handle denials during interrogation has not been given adequate attention. Therefore, this study investigates discourse strategies of handling denials in police-suspect interaction in Ibadan, Southwest Nigeria. Spencer-Oatey’s rapport management theory served as theoretical anchor. Recorded police interrogation sessions at the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department (SCIID) Ìyágankú, Ibadan constituted the data. Four cases (assault, stealing, Internet fraud and robbery) were sampled, owing to their robust manifestation of facial, sociality and interactional cues between IPOs and suspects. While suspects adopt empathic and explanatory forms of denial to threaten IPOs’ goals, IPOs engage lexical, discursive and paralinguistic choices to negotiate discursive acts of appealing to suspects’ needs, constructing testimonies against suspects, emphasising suspects’ rights and engaging detention and investigation to threaten the face, sociality rights and goals of suspects.


police interrogation, criminal cases, rapport management theory, strategies of handling denials, police-suspect interaction, Ibadan

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