Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
A Magistrate Court sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Monday ordered that Alfa Babatunde, the founder of Sotitobire Miracle Centre be remanded in prison custody for his role in the alleged kidnapping of a one-year-old-baby, declared missing at his (Babatunde) church during a programme.
Babatunde, appearing before Magistrate Charity Adeyanju on Monday, had earlier been arrested and detained by the state Police Command before the Department of State Security (DSS) took over the case early this month.
The Akure-based church founder, who was in the custody of the DSS for over two weeks, is alleged to have buried the missing baby, Gold Kolawole, inside his church, a development which prompted irate youths to set the church ablaze last week.
The cleric, who was arraigned alongside six other members of his church by the DSS, is alleged to have abducted the missing baby on the 10th of November at Sotitobire Miracle Centre located at Solagbade street, Oshinle quarters, Akure.
The charge sheet reads:
“That you Alfa Babatunde, Omodara Olayinka, Margret Oyebola, Grace Ogunjobi, Egunjobi Motunrayo, Esther Kayode, Peter Anjorin, and others now at large on the 10th of November, 2019, at about 11:45 am at Sotitobire church, did conspire together to commit felony, to wit, kidnapping and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 516 of the criminal code cap 37 vol 1 laws of Ondo State.”
The suspects are accused of having aided the abduction of 13-month-old Gold Kolawole, an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 5(i) of the Ondo State anti-kidnapping and anti-abduction law, 2010.
The prosecutor told the court that one of the suspects, Peter Anjorin, “on the 10th November, at about 2 pm at the premises of the Department of State Services, Alagbaka, Akure destroyed an evidence by secretly taking away the vital evidence that would have aided the speedy investigation in respect of the missing child (Gold Kolawole) and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 123 of criminal code cap 37 Vol I laws of Ondo state 2006.”
Prosecuting counsel Mr Joshua Dada, who prayed the court to remand the accused persons in prison custody pending further investigation, said if the accused persons were granted bail, it would jeopardize further investigation on the matter.
Counsel to the accused person, Olusola Oke, however, urged the court to grant his client bail in the most liberal term.
He said there was no vital evidence to link his client with the allegations leveled against him, and urged the court to temper justice with mercy.
The presiding magistrate in her ruling held that the court lacks the jurisdiction to try the accused persons, and ordered the suspects to be remanded in prison custody pending the conclusion of investigation by the DSS, while the matter would be transferred to the state High Court for further hearing.
Babatunde, who could not control his emotion in the court, wept till he was taken away by officials of the Olokuta Correctional Centre.