Human Rights Lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi Condemns Portable’s Arrest In Breach Of Extant Law

An Abuja based human rights activist and lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesi has condemned in its entirety the invasion of the Lagos residence of popular musician, Habeeb Okikiola (Portable), and his forceful arrest by men of the Nigeria Police, describing the development as blatant disregard to the laws of the land.

Pelumi who is the Managing Partner, Law Corridor also chided Portable for his inappropriate conduct, stressing that “resisting arrest is an offence on its own”.

It would be recalled that the Lagos State Police Command, on Tuesday, confirmed the arrest of Portable, for allegedly refusing to pay the debts he incurred when he purchased a G-Wagon from a car dealer in the state.

Checks by Veracity Desk (veracitydesk.com.ng) have it that Portable, during the purchase of the vehicle worth N27m, paid only N13m and refused to pay the N14m balance.

In a statement issued in Abuja on Wednesday, Olajengbesi lamented that arresting Portable in such a despicable manner employed by the Nigerian Police Force was unnecessary, adding that indebtedness is not a criminal offense, “even the Nigerian government has debts”.

The statement personally signed by Pelumi therefore, admonished the Police to refrain from involving 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.

Read Olajengbesi press release in extenso as reproduced hereunder:

The Law Even Thought not Popula

Although Portable may be troublesome, his arrest and the method of debt recovery employed by the Nigerian Police Force is a blatant disregard to our laws. This 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.

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.

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. v. 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 V. COP (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 & ANOR v. USMAN & ANOR (2023) LPELR-60203(CA), reiterated this position.

The Nigerian Police Force reducing its Esteem Globally everyday.

And to Portable, resisting arrest is an offence on its own.

Pelumi Olajengbesi Esq.
Managing Partner,
Law Corridor.

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