Lawyer decries harassment of client by Police despite Customs clearance

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The lawyer representing Meibalun International Nigeria Limited, Abdul Mahmud has decried the harassment of his client by the operatives of the Special Fraud Unit of the Nigerian Police despite the Nigerian Customs clearing the company of any wrongdoing.

The Nigerian Customs Service had in a letter dated 8th December, 2022, cleared Meibalun International Nigeria Limite of any wrongdoing after conducting an investigation into the company’s activities. However, the company’s lawyer said the police unit has continued to harass his client without regard to extant laws.

Mahmud said his client, a joint Nigerian-Chinese manufacturing company involved in the importation of Completely Knockdown (CKDs) materials used in assembling footwear and the production of footwear through the use of raw materials, has its factory on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway way, Ogun State, where it produces footwear with an active workforce of over two hundred Nigerians.

He said that Last week, officers of the Police Special Fraud Unit of the Nigeria Police Force entered the premises of his client on the basis of the information received from an unknown informant that the Client was involved in the importation of contraband footwear, despite the fact that staff of the client were invited to the offices of the Police Special Fraud Unit, interrogated under caution and admitted to bail during the same period.

According to him, “While we recognise the primary functions of the Police, preserved by Section 4 of the Police Act, 2020, there is nothing in the laws of country, including the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), the aforementioned Police Act, and the Customs and Excise Management Act, 2023, that grant the officers of the Nigeria Police Force the powers to enter the premises of Our Client or summon its staff under the pretext of investigating a subject, solely within the precincts of powers exercisable by the Customs Service, that was investigated by the Customs Service, following information received from an informant that Our Client was involved in the importation of prohibited footwear. The investigation launched by the Nigeria Customs Service Headquarters, Abuja, was concluded in June 2023 and Our Client cleared. Further, the footwear seized by the Customs Service were immediately released to Our Client.

”Given the foregoing, and despite the clearance of Our Client by the Customs Service, Our Client is alarmed by its constant harassments by officers of the Police Special Fraud Unit and the Zone 2 Command of the Police, Onikan, Lagos, to the point in which its operations have become paralysed, and fear imposed on its indigenous and expatriate workforce.

”Finally, the point that officers of the Nigeria Police Force constantly rely on the unfounded, false, gross, and malicious information of a “supposed informant”, whose identity is unknown, thereby subjecting Our Client to operational imperil, untold extortion, harassment and intimidation must be emphasised. If the Police have anything which falls within the jurisdiction of the Customs Service, the lawful thing it should do is to turn whatever it have to the Customs Service.

“It is illegal for the Police to assume jurisdiction over prohibited footwear and contraband and exercise powers not granted or donated to it by our laws. As a manufacturing company incorporated under the Companies and Allied Matters Act, duly recognized and approved by the Ministry of Finance and the Nigeria Customs Service as a legal and legitimate manufacturer of footwear in Nigeria, we will be left with no option, based on the unequivocal instructions of Our Client, than to seek judicial interpretation of the extent of the powers of the Police, declaratory reliefs, injunctions and exemplary damages individually against the officers concerned and collectively against the Nigeria Police Force”