Police, prison officials clash over suspect’s custody

on January 22, 2019 Crime Report

Like a scene from Hollywood movie, men of the Prison Service and the police clashed in court over the custody of a factional monarch of Ayetoro community in Ilaje Local Government Area of Ondo State, Mr. Oluwambe Ojagbohunmi.

For over one hour, litigants, lawyers, magistrates and journalists were stranded as prison officials and policemen wanted to take custody of Ojagbohunmi.

The prison officials even threatened to use firearms if the policemen prevented them from leaving the court premises with Ojagbohunmi.

Ojagbohunmi, who was standing trial for alleged crimes including attempted murder, parading himself as a monarch and arson at a Magistrate’s Court, was brought to the High Court for similar offences.

Some of the offences against the factional monarch included promoting native war contrary to and punishable under Section 42 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37 Vol. 1, Laws of Ondo State, 2006.

He was also charged with unlawful procession contrary to and punishable under Section 42 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 1, Laws of Ondo State, 2006 Besides, he was accused of malicious damage to property contrary to and punishable under Section 451 of the Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. 1, Laws of Ondo State, 2006. When the case came up for hearing, the counsel to the police, Mr. Olatunji Kazeem, said he was not ready with his witnesses and that the accused should be remanded in prison custody.

The lawyer to the accused, Mr. Olusola Oke, applied for the bail pending the trial in court. He argued that the offences are bailable. The presiding judge, Justice Bode Adegbehingbe, however, gave the factional monarch bail, pending the trial. He was granted N1 million bail and two sureties in like sum. One of the sureties must be a monarch while the other surety must be an officer not less than Grade Level 10 in the civil service. The two sureties must have last year’s tax clearance. Trouble, however, started when the prison officials in court wanted to go with the accused after the hearing.

The policemen said they would not allow the prison officials to go with Ojagbohunmi because he still had a case at the Magistrate’s Court on January 24. The policemen insisted that since Ojagbohunmi was brought to the court from the police detention, he must be returned to police custody pending the arraignment in Magistrate’s Court on Thursday. This resulted in shouting match between the two services.

The prison officials led by M. S. Fakunle said since they had remand warrant from the court, they would take Ojagbohunmi to prison custody irrespective of the policemen’s position. The prison officials positioned themselves strategically on the court premises with their arms raised to prevent the policemen from hijacking the suspect.

As they wanted to leave the court premises, the driver of a police van used the vehicle to block the prison vehicle, preventing them from leaving the court premises. The prison officials started shouting that police wanted to hijack the suspect from them. The blockade prevented magistrates, lawyers, court officials and journalists from leaving the court premises for over an hour. Senior policemen also came with reinforcement in order to take the suspect away from the court premises.

But the prison officials stood their ground. This development made the police officers to go back to the High Court with the intention of upturning the order or get reproduction warrant to keep Ojagbohunmi with them. But Justice Adegbehingbe said he would not rescind his order. He said the police should allow the suspect to go to prison and would be produced in Magistrate’s Court to face separate trial. Consequently, the policemen left the premises and allowed the prison officials to go away with the suspect

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