The Unending Tales of Harassments of Lawyers by the Nigerian Police – My Recent Ordeal

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By M.O. Idam, Esq.

My Ordeal and the Unwholesome Practices of the Nigerian Policemen attached to Effab Metropolis’ Police Outpost, Opp. NOUN, Dutse Junction, Dawaki, ABUJA.

On my Clients’ (Mararaban Idah Donkey Meat and Skin Dealers Association) instructions, I visited the said police Outpost around 1:30pm on the 30th of June, 2022, to request for administrative bail of four of my clients (two Nigerians and two Chinese) who have been in incarcerations for over 14days without trial on the alleged offences of Trading on donkey skins.

Whether or not trading on donkey skins within Nigeria amounts to a criminal offence is a matter already at the process of adjudication.

The two Nigerians Nuhu and Abdul, were arrested in far away Mararaban Idah, Kaduna State and brought to the Police Outpost in Dawaki, Abuja. Whereas, the two Chinese nationals were arrested in their home in Jabi, Abuja FCT, on the mere suspicion that they are donkey skins dealers. An allegation which they have long denied.

Interestingly, the two Chinese nationals (Shen and Zou) were sometimes in January 2022 arrested and detained for about a month in Central Police Station Abuja and later released without trial, after series of inhuman and degrading treatment.

Howbeit, being conscious of the hostile manner with which most Nigerian Policemen relate with lawyers who came to request for suspects’ administrative bail, I was extremely courteous, calm and needlessly affectionate in relating with all the officers at the station, right from the counter, just to ensure I had a rancour free engagement.

Lawyers who have visited the police station on behalf of suspects in recent time for bail can relate properly. “How was your night”, “hope you have had laungh” etc were properly deployed before interacting with the policemen, just in a bid to prevent what eventually happened afterwards.

The Investigating Police Officer (IPO) directed me to wait for for his ‘Oga’ one DSP Adebayo (AKA Gbodogbo ), I told him, I preferred to cease the opportunity to quickly attend a very brief meeting before he gets to the station since I don’t know how long it will take him to be in the station. Meanwhile, he reluctantly obliged to give me a call once the Oga arrives the station.

Just within few minutes, I left the station, i was immediately alerted that the ‘Oga’ has been informed of my visit and he had directed that I should come back and wait for him. I quickly reversed and proceeded to the station as directed.

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To my chagrin, the very moment, I stepped into the station from the gate, the said IPO, Mr. Mohammad Balarabe, retorted at me from the entrance of the police station where he was standing in a very embarrassing manner ” who are those sending you to come and demand for the bail of people who are into illegal business” ” today you must give us statement on the whereabout of those who sent you to this station” “We need to arrest all of them and their partners” ” officer take him inside let him give you a statement under caution, thereafter he will look for some one to bail him, he will not leave this place today, he must sleep here today”.

I was lost in the middle of those statements and directives . In my confused state, I feigned ignorant of the fact that I was the one being referred to, not until the officer he had given instructions attempted to grab me. At this point, it was clear to me that I was in for yet another police bruhaha despite my very unprovoked approach. Hence, I quickly reminded the policeman that I am a lawyer dully called to the Nigerian Bar and have not become a suspect for coming to offer my professional service to my clients. My clients are entitled to be represented by a lawyer irrespective of what the alleged crime appears to be. I maintained.

At this point, the IPO (Mr. Balarabe) quickly instructed other officers in the station to block the gate against me in other to prevent me from exit or escape, as he insisted that I must spend a night in the station that day. The gates were manned by the officers as directed.

With unstable and jittery hands, I managed to compose a distress Watsapp message to My very dogged partner, Mr. Benson Aigbojie, Esq. and to The Human Right Committee NBA Bwari Branch where I am a member, soliciting for rescue. The message was already sent, before their unsuccessful attempt to snatch my phone.

Thankfully, the rescue team comprising of about 20 lawyers including the NBA chairman Bwari Branch, his Vice Chairman and others, quickly intervened around 7pm to the Police Out post for my rescue.

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Shortly after their arrival, the said ‘Oga’ surfaced from nowhere apparently he was the person that sanctioned my ordeal and his reason for this, was that we (my self and Barr. Benson Aigbojie) had authored a petition against him and others for which he is currently undergoing investigation for.

I was eventually released around 8:12pm, following the timely intervention of the Chairman, NBA, Bwari Branch and his team which were over 20 lawyers. My profound gratitude goes to all the members of NBA Bwari Branch, especially those who played one role or the order behind the scene, the likes of Mr. Clement Chukwuemeka (Democrats) and those who physically made it to the station despite the very short notice, ranging from the Chairman, Mr. Monday Adjeh, His amiable Vice, Mr. Paul, Dauda, Mr. Caleb Owowo, Mr. Darlington, Mr. Kayode, Mr. Prince etc. I’m proud of you all and to my brother and Partner Barr. Benson Aigbojie, I’m immensely grateful.

Without all your interventions, my needless, unprovoked, malicious, vindictive and unlawful treatment by the the racketeers masquerading as policemen would have resulted to what no one can predict. May God bless you all.

While I have instructed my lawyers to approach the court to question the manifest violation of my inalienable, Fundamental Human Rights, I must quickly invite the Inspector General of Police to immediately investigate the policemen involved in this unprovoked gestapo treatment meted to me simply for discharging my professional duties even as I also request a probe of these police officers for the illegal arrest, detention and extortion being perpetrated by them against innocent members of the public.

On the flip side, DSP Adebayo(AKA GBODOGBO) and some other police officers were petitioned as a result of the allegations set out hereunder:

Our Clients’ (Mararaban Idah Donkey Hides and Skin Dealers Association) in recent times have experienced incessant seizure of their goods and unlawful arrest of some of their members across the country by DSP Adebayo and his team at the behest of the Nigeria Quarantine Agency (NAQS), on the ground that trading in donkey skins according to them is prohibited in Nigeria.

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Meanwhile, after the seizure of our Clients goods in the name that the goods are prohibited, the goods would find their way back to the Nigerian market even after our Clients would have been told to move on that the goods had been burnt. Painfully, our Clients discovered that this was an organised racket for which the said police officer and others were feeding so fat from against their sweat.

Having discovered this, effort was on the way to seek legal redress against the ugly enterprise.

Shockingly, sometimes in April, 2022, one of our Clients through the aid of a unique identification mark he made on his goods, discovered some of his goods which was recently seized by DSP Adebayo (Gbodogbo) and his Team, in Mararaban Idah Donkey Market, where it was brought for sale by a man and a woman who upon interrogation confessed that same was given to them by the said DSP Adebayo to sell and return money to him.

In view of the foregoing, our Clients instructed our Law Office to petition relevant authorities seeking for a discreet investigation of the matter. Consequently, the petition referred to was presented against the DSP and others mentioned by the suspects.

I seize this medium to call on the relevant government agencies to beam their investigative torch light on the activities of the officers in Effab Metropolis’ police Outpost, Opp. National Open University of Nigeria, Dutse Junction, Dawaki, Abuja. This Police outpost has become a hideout where suspects are arrested and dumped for months without trials, just for the purpose of extortion and exploitation.

Individuals are unlawfully arrested from different parts of the country and detained for months in the said police Outpost without trial. Their release is only at the pleasure of the captors.

The last Chines nationals arrested from Ebonyi State were recently released after over 2months of their detention in the police Outpost without trial. I therefore call every Human Rights Groups and Chief Magistrate within the jurisdiction to comply with the ACJA 2015 and visit from time to time, the said police Outpost.

The journey to rescue Nigeria from crass impunity and abuse of power is a collective responsibility.

Mr. Idam writes wrote in from Abuja

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