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Police Have No Role In Debt Recovery – Lawyer Faults Portable’s Arrest

Police Have No Role In Debt Recovery - Lawyer Faults Portable’s Arrest
Abuja-based legal practitioner, Pelumi Olajengbesi, has criticized the arrest and detention of Lagos-based singer, Habeeb Okikiola, also known as Portable, by Nigerian Police operatives over a debt-related issue.

Gatekeepers News reports that Portable was arrested for failing to settle a N14m debt from the purchase of a car.

A video of the incident shows the singer attempting to evade arrest by jumping over a gate, and later being forcibly carried by police officers into a waiting vehicle.

Olajengbesi, in response to the incident, stated that Portable’s arrest and the method of debt recovery employed by the Nigerian Police Force blatantly disregarded the country’s laws.

He said, “The mode of arrest highlights the deteriorating state of the Nigerian Police force. It’s 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.”

The lawyer stated that 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 emphasised 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.

Olajengbesi appealed to the Nigerian Police Force not to diminish its reputation but rather to consistently operate within the confines of the law that established it.

Portable spent the night in police custody after failing to meet the bail requirements for his release.

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