By Aishat Salihu
Following his arrest on February 2018, Oluwole Ilesanmi has been paid N1.1million as compensation for damages by the Metropolitan police in the United Kingdom.
The 64-year-old preacher was arrested outside Southgate Tube station in North London after he was accused of Islamophobia by a passer-by with whom he had exchanged heated arguments while delivering his sermon.
Footage of his arrest had shown officers forcefully removing Ilesanmi from the scene in handcuffs before he was driven miles away and eventually released with no cash on him.
In his defence, Ilesanmi, however, admitted he called Islam an ‘aberration’ but insisted that it was an expression of his point of view and not an attack on Muslims as alleged.
“I believe God loves everyone, including Muslims, but I have the right to say I that I don’t agree with Islam – we are living in a Christian country, after all.
“I was upset when they took away my Bible. They just threw it in the police car. They would never have done that if it had been the Koran. Whatever happened to freedom of speech?”, Ilesanmi told Daily Mail.
Meanwhile, a Met spokesperson said officers respect and uphold the rights of all individuals to practise freedom of speech, but that they also have the right to investigate if the language someone uses is perceived as being a potential hate crime.
“In this case, it was deemed appropriate to remove the man from the area,” he said.
He also revealed that the £2,500(N1.1million) payout includes compensation for wrongful arrest and false imprisonment, aggravated damages for exceptional harm and humiliating and distressing treatment, and recognition for the potential psychological trauma experienced during the arrest.