An Ondo State High Court, sitting in Ondo town, has mandated the monarch of Ile Oluji in Ile Oluji Oke Igbo Local Government Area of Ondo State, Oba Julius Adetimẹhin, the state Commissioner of Police and five others to pay a sum of N2million to the members of the Ujamas Professional Hunters for unlawfully arresting the latter.
Other offenders in the case are Mr. Sam Olawoyin (who was a Divisional Police Officer of Ile Oluji Division), Mr Alayande Joseph, Mr. Omobamidele Omotayo, Chief Wale Fadare and Akinsooto Samuel.
The hunters had challenged, in court, the arrest and detention of some of their members, who were arrested during one of their celebrations, by the police, allegedly on the order of the monarch.
According to them, after spending about five days in police custody, the arrested hunters were charged to an Ondo State magistrate court sitting in Ondo town for disturbing the peace of the community. The case was later referred to a Chief Magistrate Court in Ilẹ-Oluji for trial.
It was gathered that the court, however, struck out the case against the hunters for lack of merit.
After getting a favourable judgement from the court, the association of hunters later sued the Ile Oluji monarch, the police, and other defendants, at the state High Court, Ondo town for illegal detention and illegal interference.
After series of arguments from both the plaintiff’s counsel and the defendants’ counsel, the judge, Justice Peter Ikujuni, delivering his judgement, declared that the arrest and detention of the claimants were unlawful.
The judge said, “This honorable court holds that the arrest and detention of the claimants herein amounts to malicious, vexation and oppressive prosecution, which was instigated by the defendants.”
He asked the defendants to pay the sum of N2million to the claimants as compensation for their unlawful arrest and their detention instead of the N50million they demanded.
The judge ordered that the defendants jointly and severally pay “the sum of N2million being general damages for the malicious prosecution of the claimants on the 17th day of June 2021 when the defendants maliciously procured charge No: MIL/25c/2019 and prosecuted the claimants at the Ile Oluji Magisterial District, Ile Oluji, Ondo State without any lawful justification and occasioned damage to the claimants.”
He, however, warned the hunters to always give the monarch his due respect as an Oba and make sure they respect the culture and the tradition of Ilẹ-Oluji where they are living.
It was learnt that the hunters association in the town has been in a cold war with the monarch since 2018 following the appointment of one Omotayo Omobamidele as the head of the hunters’ association of the town by the Oba. The hunters were said to have kicked against the action of Oba Adetimehin as they alleged that the newly appointed Omobamidele was a brother to the immediate past head of the association instead of the appointment to go to another family.