Collage photo of Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, and Barr Inibehe Effiong.

Abasifreke Effiong

Barr Inibehe Effiong, the lead counsel to a Cameroon businessman, Mr Langwa Brezhnev, who was arrested by the Nigeria Police Force (Criminal Investigations Department, CID), Lagos Annex, Alagbon, Ikoyi-Lagos, over a controversial N26 million business transaction with Nigerian businessman, Mr Hilary Emeka Mba, has faulted claims by the spokesman of the Police, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, that the arrest and detention of the Mr Brezhnev “was in line with police investigation procedure.”

The Force spokesman made the claim that Mr Brezhnev was “off the radar, following the fraudulent transactions as alleged, was arrested in Uyo and brought to Lagos to enable him answer to the allegations against him. Investigations so far by the Police team have however, clearly established a prima facie case against the suspect.”

ACP Adejobi made the statement after counsel to Brezhnev, Barr Effiong, raised the alarm that the arrest of his client by the police did not follow civil procedure.

Effiong had also accused the police of unlawful detention of his client, adding that the complainant, Mr Hilary Emeka Mba, used his brother a Deputy Inspector General of Police, Frank Mba, to influence the illegal arrest and detention of his client.

In a reply to the claims raised by the Force Public Relations Officer, Mr Effiong, challenged Adejobi to produce the police investigation procedure where people are now tracked in breach of their fundamental rights to privacy and liberty and arrested without any prior invitation whatsoever.

He said his client is a businessman with a registered business address in Uyo, and the Secretary of the Senior Police Officers’ Mess in Akwa Ibom State, hence the claim by the Force PRO that he was off the radar is false, misleading and malicious.

“The Force PRO claims the ongoing ‘investigation’ is in line with Police Investigation Procedure. We challenge the Force PRO to publicly confirm to the whole world that the Nigerian Police now has a new standard ‘Police Investigation Procedure’ where people are now tracked in breach of their fundamental rights to privacy and liberty and arrested without any prior invitation whatsoever. Our client is a known and licensed businessman in Nigeria and has never disobeyed any lawful invitation from the Police. When our client was arrested, he demanded for a warrant but none was shown to him at the point of arrest. We challenge the Force PRO to produce and display publicly, the warrant that authorised the Police to track and arrest Mr. Langwa Brezhnev.”

“The Force PRO also claims that the suspect has been “off the radar”. This claim is patently false, baseless, malicious and misleading. Our client Mr. Langwa Breshnev is the Secretary of the Senior Police Officers’ Mess (Honorary Committee) in Akwa Ibom State and was attending the meeting of the Mess at the Akwa Ibom State Police Command Headquarters on the 14th day of July, 2023 when he received a call from the policemen who had tracked him to his base in Uyo, that he was wanted.”

“As a responsible and law abiding individual who had nothing to fear or worry about, our client told the officers that he was in a meeting at the State Command Headquarters and that he will notify them when he is done with his meeting. Upon conclusion of the meeting, our client called back the officers and they came and met with him. When our client asked the officers why they were looking for him, the officers pointedly told him that he was wanted in connection with a case involving one Hillary Emeka Mba and that he must go with them to Lagos because DIG Frank Frank Emeka Mba had given them a specific instruction.”

“Following the intervention of a senior police officer working at the State Command, our client at the instant of the said Senior Officer spoke on the phone with DIG Frank Emeka Mba who asked our client to co-operate and follow the policemen to Lagos for the resolution of the dispute between our client and his business partner.”

READ : Inibehe Effiong leaves prison amidst tight security, holding a Bible and Mandela’s ‘Long Walk to Freedom’

Barr Effiong said his client was never invited by the police to answer to any petition prior to his arrest on the 14th day of July, 2023, and further insisted that he was illegally detained by the police.”

“Assuming without conceding that the arrest was lawful and that the Police merely wanted Mr. Langwa to “answer” to the allegations against him. Why was Mr. Langwa not informed of his offence in writing within 24 hours in line with section 35 (3) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria? Why did the Police blatantly refuse to release Mr. Langwa on administrative bail after obtaining his statement despite producing a reliable surety? Why was Mr. Langwa detained for 6 days from 14th July, 2023 to 20th July 2023 before being surreptitiously taken to Court to seek an Order to further detain him for 30 days in gross breach and violation of section 35 (5) of the 1999 Constitution?”

“Why did the Police Investigators at FCID Annex Alagbon, Lagos particularly the IPO Inspector Isuku Jeffrey Ifah threaten our client and insist that our client must pay at least 50% of the disputed debt of 26 million Naira before his administrative bail can even be considered? How come the Police rushed to Court to seek a detention Order only after they were confronted about their illegal arrest and unlawful detention?”

“The Petition which crystallised into this illegal arrest and unlawful detention was submitted to the Assistant Inspector General of Police, FCID Annex, Alagbon, Lagos on the 16th day of June, 2023 and our client was arrested on the 14th day of July, 2023, a period of about one month. What ‘Police Investigation Procedure’ was carried out within the period? Our client’s registered business address in Uyo is a matter of public knowledge but the Police never thought an invitation was necessary for one month leading to the arrest.”

“The Force PRO also claims the ‘…investigation so far by the Police team have however, clearly established a prima facie case again the suspect…’. We strongly believe that this particular claim is at best intended for humour. When placed side by side with the fact that the Police in their affidavit in support of their Application for Remand have equally claimed that the suspect has made a confessional statement, the whole point of surreptitiously rushing to court to seek 30 days becomes ridiculous if not to actualise their threat to keep our client until he produces at least 50% of the 26 million Naira disputed debt.”

Barr Effiong insisted that, “exactly 6 days after the illegal arrest and unlawful detention, after our client’s refusal to produce 50% of the disputed debt and after being confronted on their illegality, the Police surreptitiously took Mr. Langwa Brezhnev before a Magistrate in Surulere on the 20th day of July, 2023 to obtain an Order to detain our client for 30 days but to their surprise, we intercepted information and were able to trace them. A lawyer from our Firm put up appearance in Court for Mr. Langwa Brezhnev and challenged the Remand Application. The Learned Magistrate ordered that we file formal processes and the matter was adjourned to 25th day of July, 2023. There was no Remand Order issued given that we had challenged the illegal procedure and had been ordered to file formal processes.”

“On the last adjourned date being 25th of July, 2023, the police in the most unprofessional manner, attempted to force our client into the car of the nominal complainant, Hillary Emeka Mba, to be taken to the court. Our client protested and vehemently refused to be conveyed to Court in the nominal complainant’s car and this resulted in a scene. When the Magistrate was informed in open court about this development and the safety concerns raised by a lawyer from our firm, the Magistrate in his discretion decided that Mr. Langwa Brezhnev should rather be kept in the Ikoyi Correctional Centre pending the hearing and determination of the propriety of the Application for Remand. That is the truth and the Police know it”, Effiong added.