Nelson Owen-Ode, a Nigerian in diaspora, has narrated to FIJ how the Langbasa Division of the Lagos Police Command wrongfully arrested and detained Kenneth Akpos and Reginald Owen-Ode, his business representatives, in August.
Owen-Ode, who runs Swiftkey International Partners Ltd., told FIJ that the Langbasa Police Division shielded Michael Owoye who reneged on a hire purchase agreement with his company.
“In September 2020, I offered Mr Michael Oyowe a silver colour Toyota Corolla with registration number AAA-502 FL on a hire purchase agreement. The hire purchase contract was managed by Swiftkey International Partners Ltd., and we reached an understanding that Oyowe would make a weekly payment of N25,000, which would sum up to N2,600,000 and expire on September 20, 2022. Oyowe defaulted several times and gave several complaints,” Owen-Ode said.
“Noticing that he had completely stopped making his weekly payments, Swiftkey International Partners Ltd. decided to meet with Oyowe.
“Perceiving his imminent loss of the hire purchase arrangement due to his serial breach of contract, Oyowe decided to report Swiftkey Ltd. to the Nigerian Police Force, Langbasa Division, on August 20. The police sent out an invitation and Mr Kenneth Akpos, a company representative from Swiftkey, honoured the invitation, after which he went for a follow-up invitation on August 22. The police asked Akpos to write a statement.”
Owen-Ode told FIJ that Alhaji Omede, an investigating police officer at Langbasa Division, detained Akpos for no reason.
According to Owen-Ode, Akpos called him for help while in police custody. Owen-Ode then contacted Akpos’ wife so that she could go bail him at the police station.
“Mrs Akpos rushed to Langbasa Police Station with her baby and her older child who was under 6 years old. She later got back to us saying that Inspector Alhaji Omede asked her to get a man to handle the bail for Mr. Akpos as females were not allowed to bail individuals,” Owen-Ode told FIJ.
“We immediately got in touch with one Mr Femi who quickly arranged the bail for Kenneth. They collected N20,000 for the bail. I immediately got in touch with the Lagos State Police PRO and the complaint unit to report the matter but was met with stiff silence until I ranted about the matter on Twitter the following morning. The DPO of Langbasa Police Station eventually got in touch with me through WhatsApp and promised justice.
“The DPO scheduled another meeting on August 30. However, to our surprise, the case was still left with Inspector Omede, the same officer that we reported for assault and extortion. We made our protest to the DPO, which again fell on deaf ears. On August 31, Michael Oyowe sent a letter to Swiftkey Ltd., apologising for the maltreatment of Kenneth Akpos and his family by the Nigerian Police. He also requested for the write-off of a substantial percentage of his outstanding payment for the hire purchase arrangement.”
Owen-Ode told FIJ that Michael Oyowe was not ready to keep to his obligation, as he refused to reconcile the total payment made to the company.
The expiration of the hire purchase contract between Swiftkey and Oyowe ended in September, according to the agreement between both parties. Owen-Ode claimed Swiftkey sent a communication to Oyowe, reminding him of the expiration of the hire purchase arrangement and urging him to make an urgent payment.
“On the expiration of the HP agreement, the Nigerian Police (Langbasa Divison) continued to take sides with Michael Oyowe and refused to retrieve the vehicle from him. Sensing danger and an indication that Michael could sell off the vehicle, we sent another complaint to the Police Complaint Unit and the Divisional Police Officer at Langbasa. The DPO at Langbasa sent us a message that the vehicle was currently being retrieved from Aguda Police Station,” Owen-Ode said.
“The DPO at Langbasa and the IPO continued with their games and severally negotiated on behalf of Micheal Oyowe. They consistently refused to release the vehicle to our representative, even after submitting all requested documents to the police station. They again lied against Reginald Owen-Ode, another representative of mine, and my brother, and arraigned him in the court of law for a case of theft of the same vehicle, which was after the DPO of Langbasa Police Station deceived us to come and retrieve our vehicle. Reginald spent one week in Ikoyi Prison before his bail was perfected.”
MICHAEL OYOWE EXPLAINS HIMSELF
Oyowe told FIJ that Swiftkey wanted to collect the car he had paid about N1.9 million (out of an agreed N2.5 million payment) for and he feared he would lose both the car and his money.
“If they take the car now, what will happen to all of my investment before now? I fixed the car multiple times and paid my instalments faithfully until several challenges held me back,” Oyowe told FIJ on Tuesday.
One of such challenges, Oyowe said, was a battle with one of his passengers who had accused him of kidnapping her.
He also told FIJ that the car was in bad shape when Swiftkey Ltd. gave it to him, and that he eventually had to change everything in the car except the chassis and the seats.
“When they wanted to grab the car from me, it was I who went to the police myself to report. When we got to the police station in Langbasa around Ajah, Lagos, they asked us to write a statement. Mr Nelson’s representative (Akpos) told them about the car and the wish of the company to collect it. They detained him afterwards,” Oyowe said.
“They later asked for the car to be in their custody, and it was the police who took the case to the court. I worked so hard to get that car working when it developed a fault. The instalments did not stop because of all of that. I changed everything in that car except the body and the chairs.
“Swiftkey Ltd. wants to take this car away from me and I will lose everything. That’s what they do; they use soldiers to grab the cars from drivers on a hire purchase contract and hand the car over to a new driver on a new contract.”
SWIFTKEY NEVER USED SOLDIERS
Gabriel Olumuyiwa, who dealt with Oyowe as a manager at Swiftkey Ltd., told FIJ the company never resorted to force.
Olumuyiwa said that Oyowe recently called him to claim that the company wanted to use soldiers to snatch the car from him, but maintained that it never happened till he left the company in May 2022.
“The company has never used force to retrieve cars from drivers. When I was still at Swiftkey, it never happened. We didn’t resort to such. I was the manager who handed the contract agreement to Michael Oyowe to sign. He signed it but never returned the document to the company,” Olumuyiwa told FIJ on Wednesday.
“Mr Michael defaulted on his payment at a time the car had problems and we gave him a grace period. He always paid his instalments consistently until he had challenges with the car.”
Stephen Abolarin, the DPO at Langbasa Police Division, first asked FIJ to come to the police station. Then, he denied knowledge of the case after FIJ sent him a text questioning Oyowe’s possession of the car.
“Please come to the police station so that we can respond. I don’t know anything about what you sent in that text. I have no knowledge of the case,” he said.
FIJ had however obtained chats between Abolarin and Owen-Ode over the car and Oyowe.
Omede failed to answer FIJ’s phone calls, but a text message sent to him on Wednesday received the following response:
“I don’t have anything to tell you, as the case is before the court. If you want to know more, visit Eti-Osa Magistrate Court, please. Thank you.”
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