A police sergeant attached to Ladipo Police Post in Mushin Local Government Area of Lagos has detained a mother and her two-year-old son over her husband’s inability to pay his debt.
The policeman, Jonathan, detained the two year-old boy and his mother because her husband, Gibson Ukeje, owed a company some money.
The little boy, Emmanuel Ukeje and his mum, Uju Ukeje were arrested and detained for two days because police couldn’t locate Gibson.
Uju said: “On January 4, 2016, my son and I were in my restaurant at Egbeda when policemen, led by one Sergeant Jonathan came there and ordered everyone to get out. He locked up my restaurant. I pleaded with him to tell me my offence. The sale’s representative lady from the company, who supplied goods to my husband, stepped out. She said she was the one who ordered for my arrest because my husband couldn’t be reached.” Uju, who said she knew her husband owed the company money, said it was never her husband’s intention to delay payment.
She said: “My husband was robbed; that was why he couldn’t repay the company. All the food in my restaurant got spoilt on that fateful day. When we got to the station, the policeman threatened to take my baby away from me. He later took my baby, gave him to someone and locked me up. I wasn’t released until my husband paid the company.”
Uju alleged that she and her baby were detained for two days without food. At a point, the baby started vomiting. She was finally released after her lawyer and that of the company sat down and rubbed minds on how best to settle the issue. Gibson said that he had been transacting business with the company for seven years now and couldn’t understand why the management would order for the arrest of his wife and kid.
Gibson said: “Sometimes in May 30, 2015, the company through their sales representative, brought the goods to my shop as was the normal practice. Our mode of payment was to issue the company a postdated cheque. This cheque serves as collateral.” He said before the sales rep left that fateful day, he gave her about N190, 000 postdated cheque.
A few weeks after the goods were delivered to his shop, he boarded a commercial bus from Ikeja, heading to Lagos Island. Gibson recalled: “I and other passengers in the bus were attacked by some armed robbers. They collected all the money I made that day. It was on a Friday. I would have deposited the money in the bank, but my bus was faulty. That was why I boarded a commercial bus.
The robbers stole N1million from me. It affected my business seriously; that was why I couldn’t continue with the business any longer. My shop was shut down. Unfortunately, it was as a result of the incident that I was later hospitalized. I couldn’t pay the company. Even while I was on my sick bed, the company kept threatening me!”
Gibson further said that after he was robbed, he called the company sales rep, to intimate her about the incident. He thought of calling the company’s Managing Director, to explain the situation, but he didn’t have the MD’s phone number.
“The company sent its lawyer and we talked at length. I had met with company lawyer about three times before they finally brought policemen to arrest my family. We even reached agreement on how to pay back the money, but they still came to arrest my wife and son,” said Gibson.
He continued: “What annoyed me most was that when my lawyer went to the police station, the Investigating Police Officer (IPO), Jonathan, told the lawyer that he had not received order from the complainant to release them even though my son was sick. I want the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Fatai Owoseni to investigate the matter and call this IPO to order.
To serve as deterrent to others. Policemen are not supposed to be debt collectors. My family was made to sleep on the floor at the station without food. I didn’t deny owing the company.” A human right activist, Mr. Segun Adeeko, who went for the release of Gibson’s family, was allegedly mistreated by the police officer.