An Ikeja High Court in Lagos, has ruled that the Nigeria Police can arrest a cleric, Prophet Samson Ayorinde over alleged issuance of a N118million dud cheque leveled against him.
Mr Ayorinde is the General Overseer of the World Evangelism Church, Bible Church, WEBIC, Ojota in Lagos.
Justice Yetunde Adesanya, while delivering a judgment on Monday, dismissed Ayorinde’s fundamental rights suit and held that the police could not be restrained from inviting, arresting and detaining the cleric in the course of investigation.
“On the totality of the foregoing, there has been no harassment, intimidation, threat of arrest or detention of the applicants.
“I must also find and hold that the police cannot be restrained from inviting, arresting (where necessary) and detaining the first and third applicants in the course of its investigation as prescribed by law.
“Restraining the law enforcement agency from arresting a person alleged to have committed an offence amount to an abuse of judicial power,” the judge said.
She however, warned the police not to publish the applicants’ names on any police bulletin or any medium for purpose of declaring them wanted.
“It should be reasonably assumed that police are now in custody of all the relevant documents which have been exhibited in this application and which required for its investigation.
“The police should, therefore, hasten its investigation on the criminal complaint of the first to third respondent and bring it to a close, if it has not already done so,” she said.
NAN reports that the popular Lagos cleric alongside the Registered Trustees of WEBIC and Reverend Harold Chinoyerem had filed a fundamental rights suit marked D/6724MFHR/2018 against Oludare Aturamu, Kemi Adesanya, Smart Link Property Services and the Lagos Commissioner of Police.
Other respondents are State Criminal Intelligence and Investigation Department, SCIID, Panti, Lagos, Officer-in-Charge of Assistant Commissioner Section and a Superintendent of Police, Alhaji Aminu, of SCIID, Panti.
The applicants had sought declaration from the court that their harassment, intimidation, threat of arrest, detention and invitation by the police at the instance of some people were a violation of the fundamental rights to personal liberty as guaranteed under Sections 34 and 35 of the 1999 Constitution.
Mr Ayorinde via his counsel Mr Emmanuel Benjamin, had asked the court to restrain the police, their agents, privies, servants from inviting, arresting, detaining, harassing and molesting or any manner infringing on their rights.
The applicants sought an order restraining the police from publishing their names in any police bulletin or any medium for the purpose of declaring them wanted.
They also asked the court to order the police to pay N4 million, as compensation for breach of their fundamental rights.
According to the counsel to the Police, Samsideen Adebesin, the police received a petition from Aturamu, Adesanya and Smart Link Services alleging that Mr Ayorinde obtained a loan of N30million from them in August 2016.
“The loan was for the expansion of the church and Ayorinde had allegedly promised that the loan will be refunded within two months with a 30 per cent interest rate.
“Not long after the loan was granted to Ayorinde, he travelled out of the country for a medical vacation returning in July 2017.
“When Mr Ayorinde could not repay the loan, the interest rate was reduced to 22.5 percent as a mark of good gesture.
“Ayorinde issued dud cheques to the respondents and upon receiving a complaint from the respondents, the police invited him to give a statement as part of their investigation but he did not present himself to the police,” he said.
According to Adebesin, Prophet Ayorinde’s failure to honour the invitation of the police on five occasions had led to the police authorities declaring him wanted.