Court remands Ondo prophet, six others over missing baby
A magistrate court sitting at Oke-Eda, Akure, the capital of Ondo State, has remanded the founder of Sotitobire Miracle Centre, Prophet Alfa Babatunde, for allegedly aiding the kidnap of a one-year-old boy, Gold Kolawole, who was missing in his church last month. There was mild drama as scores of the church’s members mobilized themselves to the court to pledge their loyalty and support to their spiritual leader, Babatunde, who was eventually marched into a waiting Black Maria to Olokuta Correctional Centre.
The founder could not control his emotion as he burst into tears while moving out of the court into the Black Maria together with six other suspects. Prophet Babatunde, who was popularly known as “Ipe to Shana,” meaning powerful anointing, was arraigned in the court yesterday by the Department of State Services (DSS) on two counts of conspiracy to kidnap and aiding kidnapping.
Kolawole was declared missing during a church service on November 10, and this led to a mob action on the church last Wednesday, resulting in destruction of lives and property. The prophet, alongside six members of his church, appeared before Magistrate Charity Adeyanju, for same offences except one of the church members, Peter Anjorin, who was accused of attempt to destroy evidence.
“That you Prophet Alfa Babatunde, Omodara Olayinka, Margret Oyebola, Grace Ogunjobi, Egunjobi Motunrayo, Esther Kayode, Peter Anjorin, and others now at large on November 10, 2019 at about 11:45a.m. at Sotitobire Praising Chapel, No 48, Solagbade Street Oshinle Quarters Akure, did conspired together to commit felony to wit, kidnapping and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under section 516 of criminal code cap 37 vol 1 laws of Ondo,” the charge sheet read.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Joshua Dada, prayed the court to remand the accused in prison for further investigation, arguing that if he was given bail, it would jeopardize their investigation. Magistrate Adeyanju ruled that the court has no jurisdiction on the matter but adjourned till January 17, 2020 pending the conclusion of investigation and arraignment at the High Court.
Counsel to the accused person, Olusola Oke, who spoke with journalists after the court proceeding, said the founder was only arraigned before the court. He refuted all the allegations against the prophet. “The prosecution presented two contradictory positions and in the first instance, there was an application filed on Friday where they alleged that the man confessed to the allegation of kidnapping. But today, we challenged them to present the evidence of his confessional statement but they did not bring something like that to court.”
Oke, who condemned the burning of his client’s church, declared that the accused was still assumed innocent until proven beyond reasonable doubt. “If the man is culpable, we believe strongly in the rule of law that he should be punished.”
The cleric had been in custody of the DSS since December 8 following the petition written by parents of the missing boy. The church was set ablaze by irate youths on Wednesday following unconfirmed reports that the body of the missing boy had been exhumed from the altar of the worship house. Three persons were killed during the violence.