Omo-Agege I know, Otive I know, but who are you? – A lesson on the authority of the believer from my encounter with the Nigeria Police

By Foster Akpore

In Nigeria, encounters with the police can be quite daunting, particularly for those who are unfamiliar with the country’s laws and regulations. However, for me, two particular encounters with the men of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) in the Uvwie Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria, taught me a valuable lesson about the authority of the believer when backed with knowledge and not contravening the law coupled with the added advantage of knowing someone in authority.

Senator Ovie Omo-Agege, Deputy President of the Senate

It all started when my wife’s younger brother called me about seven minutes after we saw him off when he came to visit us over a week ago. “wetin happen”?, I asked in Pidgin English. “Na police hold me say my keke (tricycle) paper nor correct”. “Which of the papers”? I probed further. “Dem say na Police Clearance”. “What! na where Police Clearance join part of wetin police suppose request for from keke riders”?, I asked rhetorically as my wife and I hopped into the vehicle, armed with my knowledge of the law and my association with Dr. Otive Igbuzor.

Pastor Otive Igbuzor, PhD, Chief of Staff, DSP

When we got to the station, where they had already taken the keke to, I asked the Policewoman to know my In-Law’s offense and she said that he doesn’t have Police Clearance. So, I asked to see one of the Divisional Transport Officers who, incidentally, was sitting leisurely outside, having officially closed for the day. When she asked to know who I am, the story of the seven sons of Sceva recorded in Acts 19:14-20 came to mind, when the demons asked them, “Jesus we know, Paul we know, but who are you”? I reasoned that if I said “I am Foster Akpore”, with only my knowledge of the law, it will take a long time to resolve the matter because the mere mention of my name will not ring a bell.

As I was musing on the best approach, I remembered a message I had heard on “The Believer’s Authority” where pastor Igbuzor had preached about the authority of the believer at the Baptist Theological Seminary, Eku, Delta state, at their 2022 Spiritual Retreat, themed: “Entry into Newness through Prophetic Declaration”. He talked about how we, as believers in Jesus Christ, have been given authority over all the power of the enemy. This authority, he explained, is not based on our own strength or ability but on the fact of the knowledge of who we are in Christ.

To further bring the message home, he said “Even without money, I can enter any hotel in Nigeria and ask them to give me a room and they will oblige me by just the mention of my name”.

And so, buoyed up by the lesson I gleaned from Pastor Igbuzor expose’, and the approach of the seven sons of Sceva, who told the demoniac, “I adjure you in the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches…”,  I looked at the officer straight in the eye and declared confidently, “I am Foster Akpore, I have the authority of Dr. Otive Igbuzor, the Chief of Staff to the Deputy President of the Senate and former Commissioner in the Police Service Commission to tell you that you should please, release my in-law because police clearance is not part of tricycle particulars.”

The officer was taken aback by my boldness and looked at me with surprise. To put a bold face and justify the action of the junior officer, she then asked me to come with her to her office so that she can show me a copy of a police clearance. As she showed me when we got there, I simply said, “Officer, that is just a piece of paper. I can assure you that no tricycle rider will have police clearance to give to us if we should request it from them if we go to the road now. Besides, if it was a requirement, the government officials at the Motor Licensing office would have included it when it was registered a week ago” 

Sensing that they were losing ground in their line of argument, the situation began to escalate when they pulled up another joker from their ‘bag of tricks’. “Your in-Law’s keke doesn’t have a plate number at the rear. He also fought with us until we overpowered him”, they further alleged.

To cut the long story short, I put a call to Dr. Otive Igbuzor explaining all that had transpired and he said, “Give the phone to the DPO”. When I went out from the DTO’s office to give the phone to the DPO who was at the front of the main building a couple of minutes ago, the DPO had left the scene. When I rushed to give him the phone, he was in a conversation with some of his men, until a call came to his phone which he used as an alibi not to take the call from Dr. Igbuzor. I sensed that he was hesitant because he felt embarrassed by the frivolous charge brought against my brother-in-law by his men.  To make up for his not taking the call, another officer, next in rank to the DPO, I suppose, asked me to narrate what had happened. When I did, he signaled them to release the tricycle and reprimanded the junior officers that matters of this nature shouldn’t be taken to the station. That what they ought to have done is to ask him to fix the rear number plate and let him go. It is instructive to note that the DPO also shared that sentiment.

Two weeks before this incident, I saw officers from this same station on the road and when they flagged me down,  I was so confident that I said, “Officer, my paper correct”, with pride. I was shocked when on scrutiny, one of my papers (Insurance) had expired without my knowledge. With my confidence deflated, I said, “Officer, I didn’t know that the Insurance had expired. I am a very responsible person as you can see that all the other papers are intact. What happened was that, because the person who registered the papers for me didn’t lodge the insurance in their portal, he resorted to giving me a hand note which had expired two weeks without my knowledge. Please, let me go”.

They refused to let me go despite my plea to all of them. They elected to take me to the station if I don’t part with five thousand naira and so I told her, “Madam, taking me to the station is unnecessary”. When I repeated the above statement three more times, she didn’t understand that what I meant by the statement is that nothing will come out of her taking me to the station.

On reaching the station, she took me to one of the DTOs. I also explained and begged him as usual and he said that I should go and settle with the officers that brought me to him. “Oga, I beg. Help me. Na only you go fit help me talk to your men”, I pleaded in Pidgin English but he was adamant.

So, I brought out my phone, with the intent of making a call and said, “oga, as you nor wan assist me, make I call my oga make he ‘beg’ you as you nor wan hear my beg”, and hell was let loose. “Who do you want to call”? “Na my oga I wan call make he ‘beg’, as you nor gree make I beg you”, I replied. “Who is that your oga”? He charged at me repeatedly six more times before I finally said, “Na Dr. Otive Igbuzor, former Commissioner in Police Service Commission and Chief of Staff to Senator Ovie Omo-Agege”.

“You must be very irresponsible. So you mean it’s this little matter that you are calling Dr. Igbuzor for?” he said and I replied, “Oga, na the way condition of things be for me. Suppose say I get, I for don settle with your boys. Besides, my oga nor dey worry if I call am for ‘small, small’, matter like this. He dey always dey attend to me”.

That was how I left the station, proving my statement “taking me to the station was unnecessary”, as I had told the woman.

As I draw this piece to a close, what is the position of the law if the police check your papers and they discovered that it has expired? Are they empowered by law to impound your vehicle? Are they supposed to impose a fine? If they do, where will the money go to? Their pocket or government coffers?

Again, if as my wife said as we were leaving the station, “Had it been we didn’t have someone to call, that’s how they would have collected money from us. What will now be the fate of all these keke riders who don’t know the position of the law or those who don’t have someone to call”?

Surprisingly, it is not only people like us that bask in the euphoria of who to call. The police also do. As the DTO and the other woman police Inspector were handing over the keys of my brother-In-law to me, they were saying, “nor be only you get Senator. We still get Senator too. As una dey make call, we still dey make too”. The light-complexioned Inspector now said, “as you see me so, I look like person wey come from poor family? If nor be Police work wey carry me from Kogi come Effurun, you think say I be person wey you go intimidate with your Senator? I be Yahaya Bello girl, if you nor know. If you call Agege, I go call Yahaya Bello too”.

“Na the same political party wey governor Yahaya Bello of kogi dey, na im I still dey too na.  Besides, Yahaya Bello dey respect Agege”, I told her as I left their office.

It is important to note, however, that this authority is not a license to be unruly, disrespectful or confrontational when dealing with the police. The police should also learn from this quote by Thomas Jefferson, and moderate how they deal with innocent citizens who are ignorant of their rights and don’t have connections in high places “I hope our wisdom will grow with our power, and teach us, that the less we use our power the greater it will be”.

For the avoidance of doubt, according to “Olumuyiwa Adejobi, the acting police Force Public Relations Officer (FPRO) has said that vehicle license, driver’s license, and certificate of insurance, especially for private car owners are the documents that need to be tendered to the police on demand at any checkpoint or on routine patrol”-

“Although it is unconstitutional for the police to ask for vehicle particulars, it still doesn’t change the fact that they derive a sense of pride in doing so. Therefore, motorists should arm themselves with the following: Drivers license, Certificate of roadworthiness, Insurance certificate, Vehicle registration, Proof of ownership, and Hackney permit.”

In conclusion, my encounter with the police in Uvwie taught me a valuable lesson about the authority of the believer. As believers in Jesus Christ, we have been given authority over all the power of the enemy, and we can exercise that authority in every situation, even when facing difficult circumstances. Let us walk confidently in this knowledge, always trusting in the power of God.

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