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“There should be no relationship between a Science Student and an Arts Student, the only thing that holds you together is just two subjects, English Language and Mathematics. You should not associate with them or have anything to do with them. Don’t ever go to their class …”

The above statement is credited to my Chemistry Teacher in secondary School. My Chemistry Teacher, let us call him Uncle P (we called our teachers uncles and aunties), was a young man pushed into the very difficult task of teaching by the country’s number one killer of dreams; unemployment (teaching is not an easy task for those who it’s not their passion).

For Uncle P, unemployment and its accompanying frustration with a good dose of religious fanaticism made him a disaster, but he was unleashed on young minds like us and he did wreck havoc on many of my high school folks.

To Uncle P, Pure Science students were smart while their counterparts in the Arts and Social Sciences were brainless. To him, the brainless Arts’ students could transform into a genius if they were brave enough to leave the Arts class for the Pure Sciences. Then he adds, “just have faith and you will understand and pass your science subjects” (are you kidding me!).

Incredible, but that was one of the horrors of my post primary education. We lacked Career Counsellors and thus nearly everyone wanted to be a medical doctor or lawyer, but thanks to JAMB another killer of dreams, other disciplines got their own share of the pie.

What we were never told in the University or the Law School should have been a modified version of Uncle P’s statement;

“There can never be any friendship between a Nigerian policeman or woman and a lawyer”.

You are at best sworn enemies. No policeman or woman likes lawyers. They relate with you because they have to. A lawyer is every policeman’s nemesis and spoiler. Even policemen who are lawyers hate you and would not hesitate to show you where their loyalty and camaraderie lies.

Never trust the police. Yeah! You heard right! Hold your ears and say it to yourself “never trust the police”.

The police in other parts of the world will read the Miranda rights to a suspect to include “the right to an attorney but where the suspect cannot afford one, the provision of one by the state”.

I have never heard from a client that the police complied with even reading them their rights to remain silent. First they seize suspects and ensure the client gets no access to their lawyers. Then the suspect is brought under severe pressure with allegations of all imaginable crimes and threats of detention for a long time unless the suspect can pay a huge sum.

Well I usually make my appearance after the suspect has agreed to the huge sum (yea! It’s one coincidence too many). At such appearance, you will know how much hatred policemen have for lawyers. Your appearance as innocent as it seems have taken away the meal ticket. You have literally rescued their maga.

Won’t bore you with the usual hostility from the junior officers, you can read that in my earlier piece “Warning to Rookies; Naija Police Bail is not Free 1″

Below is a quick guide on how to deal with the Police:

1. As a new wig, never trust a policeman or woman when they give you guarantees or make promises. No policeman is honest. Yea, there might be an exception to this but then the exception goes to prove the general rule.

2. Do not be hostile but show no signs of fear or weakness when dealing with them. Police may hate you more for being very fierce and aggressive but then they won’t love you either if you are calm and gentle. They will take advantage of you.

3. Aggression and fierceness though recommended (but should be sparingly used) scares the shit outta the police. The police station is where people are broken down and feel it’s the end of the world, so a lawyer barking and raising hell in a station with junior officers cowering is a sight policemen avoid like hell. It destroys their perceived invisibility. But like I said, use same sparingly and know when to stop otherwise, the police could arrest you for “conduct likely to cause breach of peace”.

4. Be smart. Play on the junior officers’ intelligence. The junior officers most times are not the recipients of the “bail money” but senior officers. Promise them something after you have secured the release of your client. They will quickly run around with the little you can offer for bail to the sum demanded, with the hope that they will receive extra money which the seniors won’t be part of (will tell you a funny story on this point later on).

5. Dangle some cash or promise of cash. Forget hierarchy, the police worship cash and their desperation makes them easy magas. Dangle a carrot or two to some officers if you meet a group that is hostile, that will break their solidarity. In fact you need not make the offer, one of the officers will approach you to help with his colleagues.

He will promise to help you get in touch with the superior who is not in the office, he will ask for N100 to buy recharge card. Give him N500 and watch how his countenance changes. He will work against his colleagues for more and usually without demanding for any cash first. Well after, he helps you secure the release of your client, what do you do?

Give him something for “helping” you release your client they ought not to have arrested in the first place by collecting say N5, 000 instead of the N50, 000 they had asked for initially? You must be joking!

 

6. Final rule, avoid going to one police station all the time. Familiarity is good but too much familiarity breeds contempt. The same policemen will not fail to cease the opportunity to call you a charge and bail lawyer when your face becomes too frequent in a particular station.

For me I love dealing with the police despite my Ivy League firm status. It gives me something to write about.
On the story I promised you. I had a client who was arrested over a land dispute and taken to the Lagos State Police Command Headquarters where he was threatened with being imprisoned till after the Xmas holidays. This was in December 2014.

Denied access to his phones so he couldn’t reach me, he had promised to pay over N50, 000 for his release when I miraculously landed at the Lagos Police Command. According to my client, he felt like Superman had landed to save him when he saw me. You need to see how the countenance of the police officers changed.

The long story was that the police took about N8, 000 for his bail as I had vehemently refused he won’t pay anything other than that. Then the junior officer called the suspect aside and proposed a deal to him. He would tell the senior officer that his (suspect’s) lawyer insisted on paying not less than N5, 000 so he and his colleague can share the remaining N3, 000 as according to him they had not been paid.

He further requested that he send him some cash so he could “kill the case”. Well we took the deal because I did not want the client to be detained for even a day.

The junior officers started calling the client with threats of further arrest and detention by the end of the next day if he didn’t bring the money. By the third day and with Xmas approaching without hope of their salaries being paid (December 2014 was hell for Nigerian Civil Servants as many were not paid salaries), the threats became pleas with account numbers for the promised cash.

Well the non-payment of the promised cash would be the least of their worries as they got court summons for their illegal and unlawful arrest, detention and harassment of my client. The junior officers alongside the police were listed as defendants. How that suit played out will be story for another day.

The police is not your friend dear lawyer! You are partners in the criminal justice system but working at cross purposes! Maybe the day Naija Police becomes Biafran Police, the police and lawyers could be friends.

Shalom!

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