NBA Faults Police for Detaining Lawyer Seeking Client’s Bail
The Nigerian Bar Association has condemned what it termed the unlawful detention of its member, a Lagos-based lawyer, Olumide Sonupe.
Sonupe was said to have been hospitalised after he was detained by the police on December 30, 2023.
Speaking exclusively with PUNCH Metro on Thursday, the association’s National Publicity Secretary, Akorede Habeeb-Lawal, demanded the release of the videos which were recorded through the CCTV cameras installed in the police station.
PUNCH Metro had earlier reported that the 36-year-old Olumide was hospitalised after he was said to have been detained by the police while seeking the bail of his client at the Moshalashi Police Station in the Alimosho area of the state on December 30, 2023.
It was learnt that his health deteriorated upon his release from the police station on January 1, 2024, after spending two nights with his client in the police cell.
PUNCH Metro gathered that the incident happened when Olumide went to the station on December 30 to seek the bail of his client, a carpenter, who had been detained for an alleged breach of contract.
Olumide told PUNCH Metro that a female officer had accused him of speaking with his client without the presence of an officer.
He said while trying to clear the misunderstanding and appeal to the officers on the N30,000 bail sum demanded for his client, the Divisional Police Officer, Austin Arase, came in and ordered that he should be detained as he accused him of disrespecting the officers.
The lawyer stated that he was also accused of assaulting an officer and eventually spent two nights in the cell.
He was said to have ended up at the hospital after his release due to medical emergencies.
Speaking to our correspondent, the NBA publicity Secretary, Habeeb-Lawal, said the association had received an official complaint and ordered a probe into the matter.
He said, “We have taken up the issue alongside the Chairman of Ikeja branch, Oluwaseyi Olawumi, and the Security Agencies Relations Committee of the NBA. We have the chairman’s commitment to send a petition to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police and the Police Service Commission over the conduct of the police officers involved in this matter.
“We are not pre-judging anything like what the state Police Public Relations Officer had said. We want a proper investigation to be conducted and the outcome made public. Our colleague has insisted that he never assaulted the police officer. How could a civilian assault police officers in their station? We are talking about Nigerian police officers here.”
Habeeb-Lawal said the NBA wanted the police to release the station’s CCTV recordings to confirm the authenticity of the claims, noting that the association “would not tolerate assault on its members.”
He further stated that the association was ready to support Olumide and ensure that necessary disciplinary actions were taken against any erring officer in the case while condemning the increasing cases of police harassment.
“We are not only involved in this case because Olumide is a lawyer, but also because he is a Nigerian citizen. We recognise that the police dedicate their time and lives to protect people but we will also not tolerate any harassment on any person,” he added.
Olumide’s brother, Babatunde, told PUNCH Metro on Thursday that the 36-year-old has been discharged from the hospital.
This was also confirmed by the chairman of the NBA Ikeja branch, Oluwaseyi Olawumi, who spoke with our correspondent on Friday.
The chairman, however, promised to make comments on the matter at a later time.
He had yet to do so as of the time of filing this report.
A human rights advocate, Ayo Ademiluyi, said Olumide’s colleagues expect the NBA to set out appropriate actions against the police officers and ensure justice was served.