Law Enforcement Agencies And Debt Recovery| Eberechi May Okoh

Law Enforcement Agencies And Debt Recovery| Eberechi May Okoh

“It is important for me to pause and say here
that the powers conferred on the EFCC to receive complaints and prevent and/or
fight the commission of Financial Crimes in Nigeria pursuant to section 6(b) of
the EFCC Act does not extend to the investigation and/or resolution of disputes
arising or resulting from simple contracts or civil transactions in this
case… Alas! The EFCC is not a debt recovery agency and should refrain from
being used as such
Per Sidi Dauda Bage, J.S.C

Supreme Court recently delivered a judgment[2] which touched, among other things, on the role of
the Nigerian police and other law enforcement agencies in debt recovery. 

history of the case dates to a banking transaction that went sour between a
commercial bank and its customer. The bank had granted a loan to a company,
guaranteed by the Managing Director (MD) of the company. The loan was secured
by a lien over original payment vouchers, debentures over the floating assets
of the company, a legal mortgage over the property of the guarantor and a lien
over three Fiat trucks and three Fiat tractors. Over time, the company and its
MD suspected the bank was charging excessive interests on the account and
employed a banking consultant to audit the account. 

The consultant found that
excess charges were indeed levied on the company’s account and wrote the bank
asking for a refund of the excess charges. The bank disagreed with the
consultant’s findings and the matter was referred to the Chartered Institute of
Bankers’ Sub-Committee on Ethics and Professionalism for arbitration. While the
matter was pending before the Committee the bank made a demand on the company
and its MD for payment of the debt and interest. It subsequently reported the
company to the Financial Malpractices Investigation Unit of the Nigeria Police
Force, C.I.D. Acting on this report, policemen arrested and detained the MD of
the company and did not grant him bail until cash and cheque payments totaling
N2,000,000 (Two Million Naira) were paid to the bank.

The company and MD
subsequently filed a fundamental rights enforcement action at the Federal High
Court. While the suit was pending, the bank made a further complaint of bank
fraud and diversion of depositors’ money to the Economic and Financial Crimes
Commission (EFCC). Based on this complaint, the EFCC sent an invitation letter
to the company and its MD. The latter promptly filed another fundamental rights
enforcement suit against the bank and the EFCC seeking a declaratory relief
that the invitation by EFCC was unlawful and a violation of the MD’s
fundamental right to liberty and dignity of his person and a continuation of
the harassment by the bank. The trial court dismissed the suit of the company
and its MD. On appeal, the Court of Appeal held that the multiple complaints by
the bank to different law enforcement agencies amounted to harassment and a
violation of the MD’s fundamental human right. Dissatisfied, the bank appealed
to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court upheld the decision of the Court of

Supreme Court considered the statutory powers of the EFCC and noted that such
powers do not extend to investigating disputes which arise from simple
contracts or civil transactions. It further held that the EFCC must scrutinize
petitions and advise complainants on the appropriate route to resolve their
disputes and refrain from being used as a debt recovery agency. It also noted
that the Police ought not to have allowed themselves be used to recover any sums
from the MD in exchange for bail. The court held that the bank’s remedy for
default in repaying a loan was to write a demand letter to the company and
subsequently invoke its power of sale under the mortgage deed. It cautioned
that detentions by law enforcement agencies over purely commercial disputes
could amount to bad publicity for future investors.

case has revisited the issue of the involvement of law enforcement agencies in
simple contracts. It is pertinent to note that the present case was adjudged to
be a pure commercial transaction. The Supreme Court has by this decision
provided clarity that the role of law enforcement agencies in society does not
extend to resolving commercial disputes where no fraud or criminality can be

exists a distinction between a commercial dispute and a criminal conversion of
funds. A cursory look at the Criminal Code Act[3] will reveal that offences related to cheating and
obtaining by false pretense must be preceded by the

of “intention to defraud”. Therefore, where a person with intent to defraud,
obtains money by false pretenses, he/she would be accused of having committed a
crime. A simple contract that results in a debt or a dispute as to the measure
of indebtedness between two contracting parties is a purely civil matter and
ought to be resolved by the civil courts or through alternative dispute

reporting matters to the Police or other law enforcement agencies must take
cognizance of their powers. The general duties of the Police are:

“The police shall be employed
for the prevention and detention of crime, the application of offenders, the
preservation of law and other, the protection of life and property and the due
enforcement of all laws and regulations with which they are directly charged,
and shall perform such military duties within or without Nigeria as may be required
by them by, or under the authority of, this or any other Act.

EFCC Act[5] defines an economic and financial crime as follows:

“the nonviolent
criminal and illicit activity committed with the objectives of earning wealth
illegally either individually or in a group or organized manner thereby
violating existing legislation governing the economic activities of government
and its administration and includes any form of fraud, narcotic drug trafficking,
money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, looting and any form of corrupt
malpractices, illegal arms deal, smuggling, human trafficking and child labour,
illegal oil bunkering and illegal mining, tax evasion, foreign exchange
malpractices including counterfeiting of currency, theft of intellectual
property and piracy, open market abuse, dumping of toxic wastes and prohibited
goods, etc.”

provisions clearly exclude civil disputes arising out of simple contracts from
the statutory powers of the law enforcement agencies under review. However,
many citizens consider law enforcement agencies as a faster route to debt
recovery than the civil courts. The Supreme Court has now shown that such
practices amount to an abuse of process.

[1] DB Plc v. Opara
[2018] 7 NWLR (1617) 92

[2] ibid

[3] Cap C 38 LFN

[4] Section 4 Police
Act, Cap P19 LFN 2004

[5] Economic and
financial Crimes Commission (Est, etc.) Act Cap E1, LFN 2004

[6] Ibid, section 46

Eberechi May Okoh 

Senior Associate at Streamsowers & Kohn
Source: LinkedIn 

10 Things some police officers don’t want you to know | Legalnaija

10 Things some police officers don’t want you to know | Legalnaija

This is a list of laws that some police
officers do not want you to know. Ignorance of these laws allows unscrupulous
officers to take advantage of citizens. It is important that you learn the
following provisions and share them with your friends and family members.

1.     Bail is free
Police Bail is free, the Inspector – General of Police
has stated same over time and recently launched the bail is free campaign educating
Nigerians to stop paying bail and to report any officer who demands bail
2.     Upon arrest, you
are liable to remain silent
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; Section 35(2) 1999 Constitution
3.     When been
questioned, you must have your lawyer present
A police officer or person making an arrest 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. Section 6(2)(a) Administration
of Criminal Justice Act (2015)
4.     No one should be
subject to torture or unlawful treatment
A suspect shall be accorded humane treatment, having
regard to his right to the dignity of his person; and not subjected to any form
of torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
. Section
8, Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015); Section 34, 1999
5.     Upon arrest, suspect
must be charged to court immediately
Where a suspect taken into custody in respect of a
non-capital offence is not released on bail after 24hours, a court having
jurisdiction with respect to the offence may be notified by application on
behalf of the suspect.
Section 32 of the
Administration of Criminal Justice Act (2015)
6.     Police officer making
an arrest must state reason
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 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
”. Section 6, Administration of
Criminal Justice Act, 2015
7.     Suspect is innocent
until proven guilty
Every suspect is entitled to a fair hearing and is
deemed innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. Section 36(5) of the 1999 Constitution.
8.     No one can be
arrested in lieu of another person
The law provides
that a person shall not be arrested in place of a suspect. Meaning only the
suspect can be arrested and not his parents, siblings, relatives or friends.
9.     Police cannot unlawfully
search your phones
It is wrong for a police officer to stop you and demand
to search your phones unlawfully
unlawfully arrested is entitled to compensation
Any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained shall
be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority
or person; specified by law. Section
35(6) 1999 Constitution
If your rights have been breached in
relation to any of the laws mentioned above, you can make a formal complaint to
the Police Complaint Commission via @PoliceNG_PCRRU or contact
your lawyer.



A citizen confused about the recent Tinted Glass Permit by the Nigeria police said, “I am Confused about the recent Tinted Glass Permit Issues. If one owns a car with Factory Tinted Glass, is he supposed to get a tinted glass permit?

The Nigeria police recently explained the ban on the use of tinted glass within the country, in a bid to answer most questions from citizens as regards to issues on the use of tinted glass.

Below is Police explanation.

The Police High Command has observed with concern the unnecessary controversies that have trailed the recent IGP’s announcement on the ban on the indiscriminate use tinted glasses on vehicles plying Nigerian roads.
The Force has observed that one of the issues that have generated so much contention and sometimes endless arguments between Police officers enforcing the ban on the one hand, and motorists on the other hand, is the contention by some vehicle owners that there is no valid law restricting the use of tinted vehicle glasses in Nigeria.
Others who claim to be aware of the legal restriction argue that because the tints on their glasses are ‘factory-fitted’, they are under no legal obligation to get a permit. Yet, others hinge their arguments and
objections on the fact that their car tints are not as dark as others and thus, should be excused from the requirements of obtaining Permits.
While some of these arguments may sound persuasive or even plausible, they are unfortunately devoid of any known legal foundation. Nigerian Laws are unequivocal in their restrictions on the use of tinted vehicle glasses.
For instance, regulation 66(2) of the National Road Traffic Regulations (1997) provides that:
‘All glasses fitted to a vehicle shall be clear and transparent to enable persons outside the vehicle see whoever is inside the vehicle and the glasses shall in no way be tinted except as may be approved by the Inspector-General of Police for security reasons.’ (Emphasis mine)
However, it will appear that the most comprehensive legislation on the use of tinted car glasses in Nigeria is the Motor Vehicles (Prohibition of Tinted Glass) Act, CAP M21 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (Formerly Decree No. 6 of 1991).
According to Section 1 (1) of this Act, except with the permission of the ‘appropriate authority’ and for ‘good cause’, “no person shall cause any glass fitted to a vehicle to be tinted, shaded, coloured lightly or thickly, darkened or treated in any way so as to render obscure or invisible persons or objects inside the car”. Under the Act, it is also an offence to aid, counsel or procure the commission of the offence. From the reading of the law, it is clear that the law made no distinction between manually fitted tints and factory fitted tints.
For purposes of the Law, ‘appropriate authority’ refers to the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) or any other person duly delegated by him, while ‘good cause’ means health or security reasons. The implication of the above is that it is only the IGP or any such person or persons duly authorized by him that can issue a tinted glass
permit. In addition, such permit can only be issued on health or security grounds.
Owners of vehicles with tinted glasses are therefore mandated by law to seek the authorization of the IGP before deploying such vehicles on our roads, whether such vehicles came with factory tints or whether the tints were manually fitted. However, by the operation of Section 3 of the Act, such persons – importer, buyer, done – have 14 days grace, from the date of the purchase of the car or the date of arrival of the car in Nigeria (whichever is applicable) to either remove the tinted glasses or obtain the tinted glass permit.
Persons convicted for committing offences under this Law are liable to a fine of N2,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months or both fine and imprisonment. Where the offence is committed by a corporate body, the Police may by the operation of Section 4(2) of the Act, proceed against its director, proprietor, manager, or other senior officers of the organization.
It must be noted that legal restriction on the use of tinted car glasses is not peculiar to Nigeria. There are many countries – both developed and developing – with similar restrictions. The law is designed to promote and protect the collective security of all, through visual transparency.
It reduces the chances of persons plying vehicles with opaque glasses from ferrying dangerous objects such as explosive devices, arms, ammunition and other incriminating materials undetected from one part of the country to the other. It is also designed to enhance the smooth discharge of Police duties, by making the monitoring of motorists easy. It is therefore advisable that persons without good reason to use tinted glasses in their cars should refrain from doing so.
In Nigeria at the moment, the decision by the Police High Command to ensure a strict enforcement of the relevant laws prohibiting unauthorized use of tinted glasses on our roads is predicated on the need to effectively tackle contemporary security challenges in the land and ultimately serve the common good of all Nigerians.
Intelligence reports and empirical statistics at the disposal of the Police Force indicate that majority of crimes relating to terrorism, suicide bombing, kidnapping, gun-running, human trafficking, armed robbery and other related offences are committed with the use of vehicles with tinted glasses. Perpetrators of these heinous crimes hide under the cover of tinted glasses to ply their nefarious trade.
It has therefore become a matter of urgent national security importance that indiscriminate use of vehicles with tinted glasses be checked in accordance with our laws.
The good news however is that the Law authorizes the appropriate authority (in this case the IGP) to issue tinted permits to Nigerians on health and security grounds if they are so qualified. Persons desirous of obtaining tinted glass authorization are advised to follow the following steps:
1. Write a formal application to the IGP for the use of factory tinted glasses, stating the reason for use, bearing in mind that approval of such application is predicated on health or security reasons only.
2. Applications should be accompanied with the following:
– Photocopies of all relevant particulars of the vehicle.
– Photograph of the vehicle.
– Profile of the applicant with relevant background information.
– Passport size photograph of the owner of the vehicle.
– Any other supporting document/information that may help to justify the request.
The Police authority conscious of the fact that some unscrupulous Police Officers may take advantage of the new regime of enforcement to engage in the harassment and extortion of helpless motorists, has issued strong warnings to all Policemen charged with the responsibility of enforcing the law to ensure that they act within the confines of the enabling laws and the Police Code of Conduct at all times.
Command Commissioners of Police have been charged to ensure strict supervision of men deployed for these duties while the IGP Monitoring Units have been empowered to arrest and bring to book any officer found acting in a manner inconsistent with his or her oath of office.
Police Officers are also warned to desist from harassing Nigerians who have already obtained valid tinted glass permits, as provided by the extant laws.
Finally, the Inspector-General of Police calls for the support, understanding and cooperation of all Nigerians, including corporate citizens as the Force embarks on a strict enforcement of the tinted glass laws.
Culled from 
SEARCH WARRANTS: Rights of Police Officers

SEARCH WARRANTS: Rights of Police Officers

 How a Search warrant works.   What do you do when a policeman walks up to you and demands that you empty your pockets or stops you at a check point and demands to search your vehicle or maybe even your house? At such times, i have always yielded to their demands and i am sure you have too.

But do policeman really have the authority to search a person at will? Let’s find out from the following parahraphs. 

A search is an examination of a person’s body, vehicle, house, premises, aircraft or any other vessel, with a view to discovering contraband, illicit or stolen property, or some evidence of guilt to be used in the prosecution of a criminal action for some other crime or offence with which he is charged. A search may be that of a person’s body or may be by way of a medical examination of the body of a person suspected of having committeda crime, for instance, a DNA sample taken and examined by a qualified medical examiner.  

The Nigerian Police do have the authority by virtue of the Police Act to search persons and premises.  In the course of executing a search warrant, the law states that a woman can only be searched by another woman, it is prohibited by law for a man to search the body of a woman though no rule states that a woman  cannot search a man.  When searching premises, the search must be conducted in the presence of two respectable inhabitants of the neighborhood summoned by the person to whom the search warrant is addressed. It is lawful for a policeman to detain and search any person whom he reasonably suspects of having in his possession any stolen item.

It is mandatoty that before a search warrant is executed, the warrant must be shown to the person to whom it is addressed and items found during a search are liable to be seized by the police. It should be noted that according to Nigerian law, any item illegally obtained by the police may still be admiitted in court as evidence. A search is obviously from the above stated paragraphs very critical to a police investigation as it aids the Police in gathering intelligence which will help resolve the crime.  

Adedunmade Onibokun Esq