Court affirms police powers of arrest

A Federal High Court in Lagos on Wednesday dismissed a suit filed by an oil marketer, Oluwaseun Ogunbambo, seeking to stop his arrest by the Special Fraud Unit (SFU).
Ogunbambo had filed the suit through his counsel, Mr Ajibola Oluyede, seeking an injunction restraining the police from arresting him on the basis of a N1.3 billion fuel subsidy fraud charge preferred against him.
He also urged the court to hold that declaring him wanted without reasonable suspicion of his complicity in the charges, amounted to a violation of his right to liberty.
The Inspector General of Police and the Commissioner of Police, SFU, were joined as respondents in the suit.
Delivering judgment in the suit, Justice Mohammed Yunusa held that the police had the statutory right and duty to declare suspects wanted and to arrest them.
“Section 24 of the Police Act confers on the police the right to arrest, detain and prosecute offenders. The police possess the constitutional right to investigate allegations of fraud or criminal offences levelled against any individual, including the applicant.
“They can also arrest any suspect with or without warrant, and where investigations reveals a prima facie case against the suspect, he will be charged to court. It is my view that the applicant cannot restrain the police from carrying out its statutory duties.
“The applicant is now an accused, a charge having been preferred against him. This suit lacks merit and is accordingly struck out,” he said.
On the last hearing date, counsel to the SFU, Mr Dania Abdullahi, had urged the court to dismiss the applicant’s suit. Abdullahi had argued that the applicant was only seeking means to prevent the police from carrying out its lawful duties.
He argued that all efforts to arrest the applicant had proved abortive as he was on the run in view of the overwhelming incriminating evidence against him.
The counsel had, therefore, submitted that the applicant was attempting to exploit the judicial process to delay his prosecution and urged the court to dismiss the suit.

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