Lawyer Criticizes Police Arrest of Singer Portable Over Debt Issue

Lawyer Criticizes Police Arrest of Singer Portable Over Debt Issue

Habeeb Ibrahim 

Abuja-based legal practitioner, Pelumi Olajengbesi, has criticized the arrest and detention of Lagos-based singer, Habeeb Okikiola, popularly known as Portable, by Nigerian Police operatives over a debt-related issue.

Blackbox Nigeria had earlier reported on Tuesday that the Portable was apprehended by the police for failing to settle a N14 million debt accumulated from the purchase of his G-Wagon.

Olajengbesi highlighted that the mode of arrest underscores the deteriorating state of the Nigerian Police force.

He emphasized that indebtedness is not a criminal offense, noting that even the Nigerian government has debts. The lawyer referenced legal precedent to support his argument, stating that the courts have consistently emphasized the police’s limited role in civil matters such as debt recovery or contractual disputes unless fraud allegations are involved.

According to Olajengbesi, Section 32(2) of the Police Act 2020 expressly prohibits arrests solely based on civil wrongs or breaches of contract. He cited cases such as Oceanic Securities Int. Ltd. Vs Balogun & Ors (2012) and KURE Vs Commissioner of Police (2020) where the judiciary reiterated that the police should not act as debt recovery agents.

“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.

“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.

Furthermore, Olajengbesi appealed to the Nigerian Police Force to uphold its reputation by consistently operating within the boundaries of the law. He stressed the importance of adhering to legal principles and avoiding actions that could tarnish the institution’s image.

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

editor

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