On the first day of the year, the media was awash with the news that private security guards at Brooks Estate in Magodo, Lagos, were arrested on the order of the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, for allegedly delaying and denying him entry into the estate. The police chief was said to have driven to the estate in his convoy on Saturday, January 1, for a ‘strategic meeting with a partner at an event,’ when the incident occurred.
According to a statement from the Lagos State Police Command, the estate was not locked down as it was earlier rumoured on social media. In the statement titled, ‘Brooks Estate was not shut down by Lagos CP,’ the Lagos Police Public Relations Officer, Adekunle Ajisebutu, cautioned private security guards not to disobey or exhibit any form of disrespect or disregard for the police force.
The estate’s executives also published a public statement denying the Lagos State Police Command’s claims. They stated that several social events took place within the estate on that day and that no one had anticipated the commissioner’s arrival. They also claimed that the CP ordered the arrest of a widow and her three children for ‘daring’ to intervene in the matter.
It bears noting that the police did not have an arrest or search warrant. Meanwhile, sections 18, 494 and 495 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, categorically outlines the instances in which a police officer could arrest without first issuing a warrant. The ACJA 2015 states that a police officer working with an arrest warrant can enter a house or place and search it for the suspect to be arrested. It also states that ‘If access to a residence cannot be acquired under subsection (1) of this section, the police officer may break open any of the houses’ exterior or interior doors or windows’.
Also, attending social events is not among a police officer’s formal duties. So, I don’t know why the CP claimed he was attending a social function to discuss issues of security. The estate is a private area, and it has the right to implement its security measures, and limit access within the estate. No provision of the law empowers any law enforcement officer to have unrestricted access to private properties, unless it is to arrest a suspect or conduct a search. Meanwhile, any such information must first be revealed to the owner or persons in control of the property.
Conclusively, it is my opinion that Odumosu’s actions were a misuse of his position of authority. It is particularly sad because he was recently promoted to the rank of Assistant Inspector General of Police, and he has barely a month before he retires from the Nigeria Police Force. At this stage of his career, he should be focused on leaving behind a worthy legacy, not being in the news for the wrong reasons.