Portable arrest: CHRSJ Condemns Nigeria Police involvement in debt recovery

A human rights body, the Centre for Human Rights and Social Justice (CHRSJ) has strongly condemned the men of Nigeria Police Force (NPF) over the way and manner they employed in arresting the Lagos-based singer, Habeeb Okikiola, popularly known as “Portable – ZahZu Zeh” over an alleged failure to pay for the Fourteen Million Naira (N14m) Car he purchased recently, saying that the Police officers involved in the arrest of Portable conducted themselves in an unprofessional manner which was against the Policing agenda of the current Inspector General of Police (IGP), Dr. Kayode Egbetokun, backing the position of an Abuja-based legal practitioner, Barrister Pelumi Olajengbesi, that the Nigeria Police had no role to play in debt recovery, insisting that the Police conduct were short of international policing best practices and it has caused stigma to the Force in the comity of the nations of the world.

 

Speaking on the development, through a press statement by the CHRSJ’S Media Office and signed by its Assistant General Secretary (AGS), Pastor Michael Agassi, recalled recently that the same operatives of Nigeria Police Force (NPF) from Lagos State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) Panti-Yaba, stormed the residential house of its Executive Chairman, Comrade Adeniyi Alimi Sulaiman in a braggado maner as if we were still in the dark days of military era over a trump-up allegation of wrong payment to the personal account of his wife domicile in Guaranty Trust Bank(GTB).

CHRSJ, made the press statement available to newsmen on Friday, urged the Police boss to institute a disciplinary action against those Police Officers that involved in bringing disrepute to the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) through their illegal and unprofessional conduct in order to serve as deterrent to their cliques in the Force.

 

Stating further that, the Osun State Police Command of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), kept a suspended Manager of the First Bank of Nigeria (FBN) Plc, Aregbe, Osogbo branch, Mr. Talabi Adeniyi Sunday incommunicado for over Fifteen days now, over an alleged business transaction of Six Hundred and Fifty Million (N650,000,000) Proof Of Fund (POF) with the Police acclaimed Thirty -Five (35) Complainants.

 

Alleging that the men of the X-Squard of Nigeria Police Force (NPF) under the watch of State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Umar Abba Muhammed, have been passing bucks on Mr. Talabi Sunday in a negative manner by turning itself to Court of Law and Talabi was yet to charge to Court of competent jurisdiction for adjudication for over Fifteen (15) days he has been in a custody of the Police.

Adding that the Police used to work against the law of the land to satisfy their whims and caprices all in the name of bribe called “Bail Fund”,even,when the Section 36(5) of the amended 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, declared that every suspect in the custody of security agents, presumed to be innocent until Court of competent jurisdiction says otherwise.

 

Supporting its argument with the position of Olajengbesi that ,“The mode of arrest highlights the deteriorating state of the Nigerian Police Force (NPF). It is crucial to note that indebtedness is not a criminal offence, even the Nigerian government has debts.

“The Courts have consistently emphasised that the police should refrain from involvement in civil matters such as debt recovery or contractual disputes, unless there are allegations of fraud, such as obtaining under false pretences, cheating, or criminal breach of trust.

“Under Section 32(2) of the Police Act 2020, arrests based solely on civil wrongs or breaches of contract are expressly prohibited.In the case of Oceanic Securities Int. Ltd. Vs Balogun & Ors (2012) LPELR-9218 (CA), the Court of Appeal reiterated this stance by affirming that ‘the police have no role in enforcing debt settlements or recovering civil debts for banks or any entity.’

 

“Similarly, in KURE Vs Commissioner of Police (2020) LPELR-49378(SC), the Supreme Court emphasized that ‘the police is not a debt recovery agency and should not intervene in contractual disputes arising from purely civil transactions.’Additionally, the Court of Appeal, in Imam & Another Vs USMAN & Another (2023) LPELR-60203(CA).”

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