Lawyer detained for seeking client’s bail hospitalised, seeks justice
A Lagos-based lawyer, Olumide Sonupe, has been hospitalised after he was said to have been detained by the police while seeking the bail of his client at the Moshalashi Police Station in the Alimosho area of the state on December 30, 2023.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the 36-year-old Olumide was taken to the hospital when his health deteriorated upon his release from the police station on January 1, 2024 after spending two nights with his client in the police cell.
It was learnt that the incident happened when Olumide went to the station on December 30 to seek the bail of his client, a carpenter, who had been detained for the alleged breach of contract.
PUNCH Metro gathered that a customer had paid Olumide’s client to make some chairs. After making the chairs, the customer allegedly refused to take the chairs because the chairs were not the same as the designs he had sent. The customer was said to have reported the matter to the police and the carpenter’s presence was requested.
He said, “They said they were going to detain my client. I met with the Investigating Police Officer, Supol Grace, and told her that the matter was purely a civil matter and nothing criminal. I asked that we should try to settle it amicably. I spoke with the carpenter, and he said he would get N50,000 by the end of January and the remaining balance of about N162,000 as soon as he sold the chairs. Everyone involved agreed. They asked him to write an undertaking and requested N30,000 for bail. Despite several pleas, they refused.
“I asked that I see the carpenter in his cell. While talking to him, the IPO said she was going to bring POS for the payment of the N30,000. I advised the carpenter to offer them N5,000 but he said they might reject it and that he would give them N10,000.”
The lawyer told PUNCH Metro that another female officer who was not around when the IPO asked him to stay with his client came in and accused him of being with a detained suspect without the presence of an officer.
He said, “She started poking her fingers on my chest but I told her not to touch me. She threatened to head-butt me and called me a useless charge-and-bail lawyer. The Divisional Police Officer, Austin Arase, came and accused me of disrespecting the officers. Before I could speak, he raised his hand in an attempt to slap me. I told him he would not dare do that to a lawyer and a member of the NBA. He brought his hand down and ordered that they lock me up. He held one end of my trousers, another male police officer and the IPO woman held my clothes and they all dragged me to the cell area. They forcefully removed my clothes and everything I was with and pushed me inside the cell.”
The lawyer said his brother was informed. According to him, the police told his brother he was being detained because he attempted to disarm an officer.
He said, “The next morning, my brother came with my aunt and started begging for my release. My brother came to meet me and told me to do whatever they asked. They took me to the DPO’s office. I noticed that there was a video screen to watch everything going on in the station through the CCTV cameras.
While writing the statement, they asked why I attacked the DPO. I was shocked and said it was the DPO that wanted to slap me. I also included in the statement that there were cameras around and the video recordings would prove my innocence.
We went back to the DPO after reading the statement. He said they should lock me up again, which they did. My aunt also came and asked me to withdraw my statement. After so much talk, I followed her upstairs and met the DPO again. The DPO said I should sit down and asked me what happened the previous day. I narrated everything. The DPO asked them to bring a Maltina drink for me.”
It was gathered that the DPO instructed Olumide to bring a surety. However, when his brother and aunt volunteered, the DPO was said to have rejected them.
“He said he cannot allow a woman to be a surety and he could accept my brother but I needed to bring a civil servant. My aunt told me she is a civil servant but he refused. She called someone and when he came, the DPO said he was going somewhere so we had to wait. We waited for hours but he did not arrive around 10pm,” Olumide said.
PUNCH Metro gathered that Olumide’s client who had been released on bail was re-arrested before he could leave the station and was locked up with Olumide in the same cell.
He said, “The following morning, the Area Commander arrived around 4am and accused me of assaulting the DPO. He said they would charge me to court the following day. A police woman who was with me helped me up and they took me back to the cell. Some minutes later, they came to call me at the request of the Area Commander. I told them I could not walk. I was in serious pain.
The officer went back and two officers came again and accused me of disrespecting the Area Commander. I told them I wanted to come but my legs were shaking and I needed help walking. They approached me and pulled me up but I fell back down. They lifted me and helped me to walk. The Area Commander asked me to narrate what had happened. While doing that, he asked me to move closer to him because he could not hear me. I told him I could not move my legs. He became angry and left.”
PUNCH Metro learnt that Olumide was later released in the afternoon and his client was also said to have been bailed the second time.
Olumide’s brother, who confirmed the story, told our correspondent that the appropriate branch of the Nigerian Bar Association had been informed and necessary steps were being taken to seek justice.
The DPO did not respond to calls as of press time.
When contacted, the National Publicity Secretary of the NBA, Akorede Habeeb-Lawal, said he would get back to our correspondent. He never did as of the time of filing this report.
The state Police Public Relations Officer, Benjamin Hundeyin, confirmed the incident accusing Olumide of acting “without decorum”.
“Lawyers come to police stations every day without issues. He was different. He acted without decorum,” Hundeyin added