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Saturday, October 6, 2018

Police Detain Lawyer For Alleged Fraud, As Lawyer Cries Out, This Is Strange

A Lagos-based lawyer, Chibeze Azubike, is at daggers drawn with the police over what he described as unlawful detention and assault.

The lawyer lamented that the police detained him for three days at the Lion Building Police Station on Lagos Island over an alleged fraud and declined his demand to see the evidence of the purported crime.

Azubike said he later learnt that his arrest was orchestrated by the girlfriend of one Ihegbu, who rented a three-bedroomed apartment he managed in Imo State.

He explained that the girlfriend had accused Ihegbu, who is based abroad, of fraud and reported the case to the police in Imo.

The lawyer, who said Ihegbu paid N360,000 rent into his account, accused the police of erroneously linking him to the fraud allegation made by the girlfriend.

Azubike explained that his ordeal began on September 19, 2018 when he went to the Diamond Bank branch on Lagos Island to lodge a complaint over difficulty in doing cash transfer from his account domiciled in the bank.

The lawyer, who said he did not know his account had been placed on hold, told Saturday Punch that he was delayed by an official of the bank until two policemen came to arrest him for the alleged fraud.

The 39-year-old stated that the policemen locked him up for hours in a room on the bank premises before they took him to the police station.

He said the operatives told him they acted on a warrant of arrest issued against him by the Imo State Police Command, adding that they refused to show him the court order.

He said, “I wanted to transfer money to somebody on my phone and I noticed it was not going through. I went to the Diamond Bank on Lagos Island around 1pm that day to lodge a complaint. An official asked me to wait.

“I wanted to go because it was taking too long but he insisted that I should wait. Suddenly, two policemen came in, armed with guns. They dragged me out of the bank and locked me up in a room at the back of the bank premises until around 6.30pm.

“I was eventually taken to the Lion Building Police Station. I asked them to show me the court order or any evidence against me, but they refused. One of the police officers called his colleague in Imo State. After making the call, he demanded N1,000 from me but I said I did not have money. That was when he said I must enter the cell. He pushed me into the cell.

“They said they would transfer me to the Imo State Police Command. I learnt some policemen were supposed to come from Imo to pick me up but they could not come because their vehicle broke down on the way.”

The lawyer stated that he was held in the cell till September 21, adding that it took the intervention of the Nigerian Bar Association before he was released.

He said the police later told him that he was arrested on the account of a fraud allegation reported by Ihegbu’s girlfriend.

The lawyer said, “I passed through hell. If not for the NBA that intervened, I would still be there. They locked me up for three days. Up till now, I am lost on the reason for my arrest. I have been on medication since I was released. I don’t do fraud and I can never involve myself in it. I am a lawyer.

“The tenant in a property I manage in Imo State, Ihegbu, paid N360,000 rent into my account last year and I issued a receipt to that effect.  He lives abroad and comes home once in a while. His brothers reside in the apartment.

“I learnt his girlfriend claimed that he defrauded her and she reported him to the police. Probably during investigation, police found out that Ihegbu transferred money into my account. I don’t even know the girlfriend.  I have been invited to come to Owerri on Monday.”

Azubike said he would petition the Inspector-General of Police for infringement on his rights and institute a legal action against the Force.

 “I want the general public to know how the banker order is being abused by the police. I was arrested for no just cause. The system is so decayed that the police are looking for people to feast on. What is my involvement? I don’t have any other business in Imo State except collection of rent. Once I collect rent, I issue the landlord’s receipts,” he added.

The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, said the command acted on a distress call received from the Imo State Police Command on a fraud allegation against the lawyer.

He said, “There was a case of fraud reported against that lawyer. The police approached the court for an order that the man be arrested anytime he went to any bank to transact on the account used to perpetrate the fraud. When he went to the bank, the police were informed because a hold has been placed on the account.

“We contacted the Imo State Police Command that the lawyer was with us. Due to logistics reasons, they could not come to pick him. They requested the Lion Building Police Station to grant him bail to a reliable surety so that he can come on his own to report at the Imo State Police Command. The order did not emanate from us. If he wanted to see the order, he should go to the Imo State Police Command.”

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