Judicial symbol for justice
By Dayo Johnson
Akure—FOR over an hour, chief magistrates, lawyers, litigants, court officials and journalists were held hostage in court premises in Akure, the Ondo State capital, as prison officials and the Police clashed over the custody of a suspect, “Oba” Oluwambe Ojagbohunmi.
The only road leading to the Magistrate Court in Akure was blocked by the Police vehicle to prevent a Black Maria conveying the suspect from leaving the court.
Officials of the two government agencies engaged themselves in a war of words and prevented free movement into and outside the court premises for custody of “Oba” Ojagbohunmi, who is standing trial for alleged attempted murder, arson and parading himself as a monarch, was also taken to the State High Court on another three-count charge.
He was also alleged to be promoting native war contrary to and punishable under Section 42 of the Criminal Code cap 37 Vol1 Laws of the state, 2006.
He was also charged with unlawful procession contrary to and punishable under Section 42 of the Criminal Code cap 37 Vol1 Laws of the state, 2006.
Ojagbohunmi was also accused of malicious damage to property contrary to and punishable under Section 451 of the Criminal Code cap 37 Vol, 1 law of the state, 2006.
When the case came up for hearing, 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.
However, lawyer to the accused, Olusola Oke, applied for his bail pending the trial in the law court. He argued that the offences are bailable.
Presiding judge, Justice Bode Adegbehingbe, granted the “monarch” N1 million bail and two sureties in like sum, pending the trial.
The judge said one of the sureties must be a monarch, while the other must be an officer on not less than Level 10 in the civil service and that the two must have last year’s tax clearance.
Drama ensued when the prison officials at the court premises wanted to convey the accused in a Black Maria to the prison.
In a swift response, the driver of the Police vehicle quickly blocked the path of the Black Maria, insisting that they would not allow the prison officials to take Ojagbohunmi, because he still has a case with the Police.
The policemen insisted that since Ojagbohunmi was brought from the Police detention, he must be returned to the Police custody, pending his arraignment in court on Thursday.
The prison officials, led by one Fakunle, said: “Since they have a remand warrant from the court, they would take Ojagbohunmi to prison custody and dared the Police to shoot them.
They accused the policemen of wanting to hijack the suspect from them.
When it appeared that none of the agencies was ready to shift grounds, some senior officers were sent to the scene by the Police Commissioner, Gbenga Adeyanju, to resolve the matter.
All the parties and the senior Police officers sought audience with the judge with the intention of upturning the order or get reproduction warrant. But the judge, Justice Adegbehingbe, said he would not rescind his order.
It was after this that the policemen left the premises dejected and allowed the prison officials to take the suspect and others away in the Black Maria.