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Police Officers as Agents of Debt Recovery: The View of the Law

Police Officers as Agents of Debt Recovery: The View of the Law

Police Officers as Agents of Debt Recovery: The View of the Law.

By Adebayo Faruq


During the Mid August in 2018, we went for a National competition which involves Muslim Schools around the Federation. After the completion of that day category of the competition, my uncle as a zealous person who followed me as a fan told me to take a walk around the town. I was reluctant at the first instance because the next day was the final round which my school was one of the finalists. I later agreed as i knew my mouth would go on a restless chopping.

On our way back to the host school, we accidentally met one of the proprietors of a school (who i will be referring to as Mallam) in that community who was my uncle’s friend. After a short but friendly exchange of greeting with my uncle, he said he was coming from a police station. My uncle was flaggerbasted as he knew the kind of person Mallam was. After a long but pitiful discussion, we continue our hiking. He narrated to me that Mallam loaned money without interest from Mr. Joe based on agreement to repaid back on a specific period that the Mallam failed. My uncle said pitifully “Thank God he was not beaten too much, he was just detained and the school was closed up by the police”. I also agreed with him that the police were doing their job since i had no knowledge of law. Now!!! I understand that i was totally wrong to conclude ignorantly then.

The issue of determination is whether or not the police can be used as an agent of debt recovery.

The primary duties of a police officer are expressly stated in Section 4 of the police act 2020 without the inclusion of debt collection. The Supreme Court held in KURE v. C.O.P. (2020)9 NWLR Pt. 1729 Pg. 296 at 326 on the primary duty of the Police thus: “The primary duty of the Police by section 4 of the Police Act is the prevention of crime, investigation and detection of crime and the prosecution of offenders. See Ibiyeye v. Gold (2012)All FWLR (Pt. 659) 1074.

It has been decided in numerous cases that the police cannot intervene in any civil matter or dispute resolution. See the case of Igwe V. Ezeanochie (2010) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1192) 61: The Courts have in strong terms condemned the use of Policemen and Soldiers in the resolution or settlement of disputes amongst people, as such use of policemen often lead to infringement on the fundamental rights of others. See: Agbai Vs. Okogbue (1991) 7 NWLR (Pt 391), Nkpa Vs. Nkume (2001) 6 NWLR (Pt.710) 543 at 561. PER OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA, J.C.A.

It has been decided in the celebrated case of Mclaren V. Jennings (2003) 3 NWLR (Pt. 808) 470; that The police is not a debt recovery agency and has no business to dabble into contractual disputes between parties arising from purely civil transactions.

Also by the provision of Section 32(2) of the Police Act, 2020, where it is stated that a person shall not be arrested merely on civil wrongs or breach of contract.

What really happened between Mallam and Mr Joe was merely a civil wrong which did not call for the intervention of a police officer. By the foregoing, it is known that what the police did to Mallam has contravened and infringed on his fundamental right to the extent of closing up the school. The provision of Section 35 of the Constitution of Federal Republic Nigeria (1999 as amended) has been breached, the provision provided that every person shall be entitled to his personal liberty and no person shall be deprived of such liberty save in some cases which the action of the police in the instant case did not cover. Mere owning a private individual does not call for the intervention of police.

Rather, it is advisable for the creditor(Mr Joe) to seek legal advice from a legal practitioner that will counsel him to follow the due process and recover the debt in a legitimate way.


This work is published under the free legal awareness project of Sabi Law Foundation ( funded by the law firm of Bezaleel Chambers International ( The writer was not paid or charged any publishing fee. You too can support the legal awareness projects and programs of Sabi Law Foundation by donating to us. Donate here and get our unique appreciation certificate or memento.


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