Can the police be used as debt recovery agents in contractual matters between parties?

Can the police be used as debt recovery agents in contractual matters between parties?

Recently I was involved in a criminal
matter between two parties in Court. I appeared for the Defendant and my brief
was predicated on a contract that had gone sour and the Complainant getting the
Defendant arrested for “defrauding” him as he had elegantly put his case. It is
important to note that parties had entered into a contract, evidenced by a
contractual document that was tendered in court, and the IPO (Investigating
Police Officer) stated in open court during cross examination, that he
inspected the contractual document and unilaterally decided that the Defendant
had run afoul of the contractual terms.

The attitude of the Court in situations
like this is quite clear as espoused by Per Mbaba JCA in OCEANIC
has been stated many times that the police has no business in enforcement of
debt settlements or recovering of civil debts for banks or anybody. Only
recently, in the unreported decision of this Court in the case of IBIYEYE &
ANOR VS GOLD & ORS, APPEAL NO_ CA/IL/M.95/2010, delivered on 7/12/2011, I
had cause to scream thus, in my contributory judgment. “I have to add that the
resort to the police by parties for recovery of debts outstanding under
contractual relationship, has been repeatedly deprecated by the Court. The
police have also been condemned and rebuked, several parties, and for using its
coercive powers to breach citizens right and or/promote illegalities and
oppression. Unfortunately, dispute, all the decided cases on this issue, the
problem persists and the unholy alliance between aggrieved
contractors/creditors with the police remains at the root of many fundamental
right breaches in our Courts
The police have no business using their
coercive powers to deal in matters of contractual nature between parties. In
fact, it was held in another matter before the Court of AppealANOGWIE &
ORS VS. ODOM & ORS (20160 LPELR-40214 (CA)
, where My Lords were more
forceful with their judgment that
invitation of the police to intervene in a matter that is purely civil in
provided under Section 4 of the POLICE ACT, Cap 359 LFN 1990 does not include
the settlement of civil disputes or the collection of debts or the ENFORCEMENT
(2003) 3 NWLR (Pt. 808) 470. The mere fact that the police are invited into
just about every matter under the sun is no justification to get the police involved
in the resolution of civil disputes. The police has recently held itself out as
a responsible law enforcement organization and should be seen to live up to its
billings in quickly turning down matters not statutorily assigned to it so as
to avoid embarrassments of matters of this nature happening. There are usually
dire consequences at every turn of event in the event of things of this nature
happening. The position is and has always been that the private individual who
uses the police to settle a private score, would himself be liable for the
wrongful act of the police. See the case of NKPA VS. NKUME (2001) 6 NWLR (pt.
710) 543 and a host of other decided cases on the subject”
The Police derive their powers from section
4 of the Police Act, Cap 359 LFN 1990. This section states the Jurisdiction of
the police and being used as debt recovery agents, being involved in purely
civil matters or being used to resolve civil disputes has no basis in law
as by so doing, the police would have acted ultra vires. It is disheartening to
note many people; even Lawyers still use the police to hound people for purely
civil transactions that might have gone sour. As stated by My Lords in OCEANIC
this act leads to
many fundamental human rights breaches against individuals. Many times, the
police, using their coercive and physical presence force victims into making
undertakings promising to pay the debt at an agreed date. They threaten with
imprisonment and they harass the victims into agreeing to these undertakings
which have no basis in law.
The Courts have taken a very radical
approach to this problem as they have stated in numerous cases that the victims
can institute an action against the errant officer and the private individual
who used the police to settle a private score as he too would be liable for the
wrongful act of the police.
So in answer to the topic question, the
police cannot and should not be used as debt recovery agents nor should they be
used in purely civil matters as the act is ultra vires.

F.B.A Nabena & Co
Source: Linkedin 
Can a police officer make an arrest without stating the reason? |Legalnaija

Can a police officer make an arrest without stating the reason? |Legalnaija

There have been various scenes in Nollywood
movies, where a police officer makes an attempt to arrest a citizen. Such
citizen will often inquire about the reason for his arrest and the officer will
respond that ‘when you get to the police station, you will find out the reason
for your arrest”. I have always wondered if these scenes were solely fictitious
or whether they stemmed out of the actual practice of the Nigerian Police Force.
 If the latter is the answer, this will
come as no surprise as the Nigerian Police is not popular for imbibing international
best policing practices. It is no secret that the Nigerian Police is still
heavily into torture and extortion. Moreso, the average police officer is not
educated on basic forensic protocols in crime investigations and rely usually
on forced confessions and crude methods in solving crimes.

However, this piece seeks not to criticize the
police but to enlighten members of the Nigerian public on the question – Can a police officer make an arrest without
stating the reason?
. The relevant provision of the law which addresses this
question is the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015.
Section 6 of the ACJA provides that –
when the suspect is in the actual course of the commission of an offence or is
pursued immediately after the commission of an offence has escaped from lawful custody,
the police officer or other persons making the arrest shall inform the suspect immediately
of the reason for the arrest
From the above, it is clear that the answer
to the question – Can a police officer
make an arrest without stating the reason?
Is “NO”. The ACJA provides that
any such officer must tell you the reason for your arrest.
Furthermore, a Nigerian police officer will
usually not inform you that upon arrest, the person arrested has a right to
remain silent and to refrain from making a statement until consultation with a
lawyer as stated further in Section 6 of the ACJA Act 2015.
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One Step Closer to Creation of State Police

One Step Closer to Creation of State Police

Sometime ago, I wrote
about why we needed to establish State Police in Nigeria and empower local security agencies
The advantages will be of course immense including employment for the teeming
youths, safer neighbourhoods and superior policing infrastructure. My voice is
definitely not the first and won’t be the last in support of this initiative
and I am glad we are moving one step closer as a nation to achieving this goal.

At the House of
Representative on the 27th of September, 2016, the Bill which seeks
to alter the 1999 Constitution of the Federation, to provide for the
establishment of State Police and to ensure effective community policing in
Nigeria, standing in the name of Hon. Awoleye Abiodun Dada passed through its
second reading and was accordingly referred to the Ad hoc Committee on
Constitutional review for further legislative action.
Section 214 of the 1999 Constitution,
provides that there shall be a police force for Nigeria, which shall be called
the Nigeria Police and, subject to the provisions of this section no other
police force shall be established for the Federation or any part thereof. In
order therefore to establish State Police in Nigeria, this provision of the Constitution
must be amended. It is hoped that the Bill becomes law in the shortest possible
The Nigerian Police is
regulated by the Police Act, Cap.P19, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.
Section 10 of that Act provides that for public safety and public order The
President may give to the Inspector-General such directions with respect to the
maintaining and security of public safety and public order as he may consider
necessary, and the Inspector-General shall comply with those directions or
cause them to be complied with.
I believe the amendment
when passed will further lead to the State House of Assemblies passing their
respective Police Laws establishing the police in each state and enumerating
their duties, powers and administration. Most likely, the law will also empower
State Governors in regard to the security of their states as also provided for
in Section 10 of the Police Act. Also, the Police Act may be further amended to
properly outline the respective legal jurisdiction of the Federal and State
Adedunmade Onibokun

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I have seen a number of
Hollywood movies where upon arrest by the police, the suspect is read his
rights. This means the suspect has been mirandized. This experience is however
different from  Nollywood movies, where
upon arrest, a suspect is told that he would be informed of the reason for his
arrest when he gets to the police station. If this is actually the reality in
Nigeria, then I must say the Nigerian police force is doing something wrong.

The doctrine of Miranda can
be traced to the case of  Miranda V. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436,86. S.Ct
1602 (1966)
This case discussed the admissibility of statements obtained during. It states that a criminal suspect in police custody must be
informed of certain constitutional rights before being interrogated. For
instance, the suspect must have been advised of the right to remain silent, the
right to have an attorney present during questioning and the right to have an
attorney appointed if the suspect cannot afford one. 
In the U.S and some other
legal jurisdictions, when the suspect is not advised of these rights or does
not waive them, any evidence obtained during the interrogation cannot be used
against the suspect at trial. Though, this is not the case in Nigeria, the
Miranda rule is not restricted to other legal jurisdictions as we have a
similar provision of law in Section 6 of
the Administration of Criminal Act 2015
provides that:
Except when the suspect is in the actual course of the commission of an offence
or is pursued immediately after the commission of an offence or has escaped
from lawful custody, the police officer or other persons making the arrest
shall inform the suspect immediately of the reason for the arrest.
The police officer or the person making the arrest or the police officer in
charge of a police station shall inform the suspect of his rights to:
remain silent or avoid answering any question until after consultation with a
legal practitioner or any other person of his own choice;
consult a legal practitioner of his choice before making, endorsing or writing
any statement or answering any question put to him after arrest; and  
free legal representation by the Legal Aid Council of Nigeria where applicable;
provided the authority having custody of the suspect shall have the
responsibility of notifying the next of kin or relative of the suspect of the
arrest at no cost to the suspect.
Credits –
In the past, we have heard
of police officers who abuse their powers, however, we must always demand a
high level of professionalism from the police and other security agencies.
Therefore, please share this blog and inform as many people as you can. Thank
Adedunmade Onibokun, Esq.