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Lawyer faults Portable’s arrest, says Police not debt recovery agency

Lawyer faults Portable’s arrest, says Police not debt recovery agency

Abuja based legal practitioner, Pelumi Olajengbesi, has faulted the arrest and detention of Lagos based singer, Habeeb Okikiola aka Portable by operatives of the Nigeria Police over debt related matters.

The lawyer insisted that police missed the track and went out of its statutory functions as the law does not confer power to arrest over debt on the agency.

Portable was widely reported to have been arrested by the police in Lagos over his inability to pay for a G-Wagon vehicle he purchased from a motor stand.

Reacting to the development in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja, the lawyer said that although Portable may be troublesome, his arrest and the method of debt recovery employed by the Nigerian Police Force was in blatant disregard to the country’s laws.

“The mode of arrest highlights the deteriorating state of the Nigerian Police force. It’s crucial to note that indebtedness is not a criminal offense, even the Nigerian government has debts.

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“The courts have consistently emphasized 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 pretenses, 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), reiterated this position,” the lawyer stated.

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Olajengbesi therefore pleaded with the Nigerian Police Force not to reduce its esteem but to always act within the ambit of the law that established it.

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