Nigeria Police Force as Debt-recovery Agency

Notes for File

It was another embarrassing moment for the authorities of the Nigeria Police as the video of the arrest of a Nigerian singer, Habeeb Okikiola, popularly known as Portable, went viral on social media, last Wednesday.

In the video, the singer, standing alongside eight other people, could be seen having a friendly conversation with the officers who came for him

After he was shown a warrant of arrest by the officers, the singer responded, “No problem, no problem, Oga mi,” while pacing around.

In a twinkle of an eye, the singer climbed over a gate close by, taking to his heels.

However, there was an eagle-eyed officer who suspected or noticed that he was planning to escape and followed him as he was about to climb the gate.

The vigilant officer, alongside other policemen, gave him a hot chase and arrested him.

As he was being lifted and carried across a concrete gutter by the policemen, he struggled to free himself and almost hit his head on the concrete, which could have resulted in fatality.

Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed that Portable was arrested because of unpaid debts.

“He bought a G-Wagon for N27million, paid N13million, and refused to pay the rest, claiming the vehicle was bad. We arrested him today,” he reportedly added.

Though Portable was released on bail on Wednesday, many are asking whether the police have become a debt-recovery agency.

In his reaction, Abuja-based legal practitioner, Pelumi Olajengbesi 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.”

Another Abuja-based lawyer and human rights activist, Deji Adeyanju, also insisted that the police and other security agencies were not debt- recovery agencies.

Rather than dissipate energy in the demonstration of a show of force to humiliate and dehumanise unarmed citizens over civil matters, the Nigeria Police should deploy their critical assets to tackle Nigeria’s security challenges which appear to have overwhelmed the force.

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