James Sowole in Akure
The Founder of Sotitobire Prayer Chapel located at Oshinle Quarters in Akure, Ondo State capital, Prophet Alfa Babatunde, yesterday betrayed emotion after the Magistrate’s Court, Akure ordered that he should be remanded at the Olokuta Correctional Centre for alleged conspiracy to kidnap and aiding kidnapping.
Alfa, who was arraigned along with six other members of the church, before Magistrate Charity Adeyanju, sitting at Oke-Eda, Akure, was alleged to have committed the offence on November 10, 2019 at about 11.45a.m. at Sotitobire Praising Chapel, No 48, Solagbade Street Oshinle quarters, Akure.
While Alfa and five others were arraigned on a two-count charge, the seventh accused person, Peter Anjorin was arraigned on a three-count charge.
The charge sheet reads, “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, Ondo State, did conspire 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 State.
“That you, Prophet Alfa Babatunde, Omodara Olayinka, Margret Oyebola, Grace Ogunjobi, Egunjobi Motunrayo, Esther Kayode, Peter Anjorin, and others now at large on the November 10, 2019 at about 11.45a.m. at Sotitobire Praising Chapel, No. 48, Solagbade Street, Oshinle Quarters, Akure, Ondo State, did aid the kidnap of one Gold Eninlaloluwa Kolawole, aged 13 months and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 5(i) of the Ondo State Anti-kidnapping and Anti-abduction Law, 2010.
“That you, Peter Anjorin on November 10, 2019 at about 2p.m. at the premises of the Department of State Services, Alagbaka, Akure did destroy evidence by secretly taking away the vital evidence that would have aided speedy investigation in respect of the missing child (Gold Eninlaloluwa 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”.
The prosecuting counsel, Mr. Joshua Dada who prayed the court to remand the accused person in prison custody for further investigation, said if the Prophet was given bail, it would jeopardise their investigation.
The magistrate thereafter ruled that she does not have the jurisdiction to try the alleged offences and ordered him to be remanded in prison custody pending the conclusion of investigation and obviously arraignment at the High Court.
The Magistrate adjourned the matter till January 17, 2019.
As the prison officials marched Alfa and other accused out into the waiting prison vehicle, he burst into tears just as members of his church in the court premises.
Speaking with journalists outside the court, Counsel to the accused person, Mr. Olusola Oke, said there were no evidence yet to indict his client.
He said: “There was an arraignment of Alfa Babatunde with some members of the Church before the magistrate on the allegation in respect of a missing child.
“But it is important for us to bring this to the knowledge of the general public that contrary to insinuation and an allegation that they have shaved his beard and his hair, it is obvious today that such did not happen.
“The prosecution presented two contradictory positions and in the first instance, there was an application filed on Friday where they alleged that the man, Babatunde confessed to the allegation of kidnapping. But quiet surprisingly today, we challenged them to present the evidence of his confessional statement but they did not bring something like that to court.
“They were charged with conspiracy, and aiding kidnapping; these are two different situations because if he actually kidnapped, it would have actually been brought to the public that he kidnapped but apparently they have nothing against him,” the lawyer argued.
“For us as lawyers, and we believe that if the man indeed is culpable, we believe very strongly in the rule of law that he should be punished. But at the same time, there is no need for us to crucify somebody without any evidence.”