James Sowole in Akure
For telling lies and publishing false allegation against a church founder, the Ondo State High Court in Akure, the state capital, has sentenced a cleric, Mr. John Abiodun, to two years imprisonment.
Abiodun was arrested in 2019 for lying against the founder of a church, the Promiseland Prophetic Ministry, Akure, Pastor Gbenga Akinbiyi.
The cleric, who was a former member of the church, had alleged that seven placentas were planted on the altar of the church located at Shasha area of Akure.
The convict was also said to have sworn an affidavit before the Commissioner for Oaths, on the matter.
Abiodun, along with a lecturer of the Adekunle Ajasin University, Akungba Akoko, Prof Lanre Olu-Adeyemi, was later arraigned on an eight-count charge bordering on conspiracy, publications of false information, perjury, impersonation, threatening violence among others.
The second defendant (Prof. Olu-Adeyemi) was the admin of the WhatsApp group through which the false publication and accusation was passed.
During the series of court proceedings on the matter, various witnesses were called by the court on the sides of both prosecutors and defendants.
Delivering the judgment, the trial Judge, Justice Bode Adegbehingbe, found the first defendant (Abiodun) guilty of count five of the charge for contradicting himself while giving evidence in the allegation against him, which included using different church WhatsApp platforms and other social media platforms to malign, carry out false publication and wrongly accused the founder of the church.
The court said Abiodun was found guilty of committing perjury, which is punishable under Section 118 of Criminal code, Laws of Ondo State.
The judge also held that in law, anybody found guilty of perjury was liable to life or 14 years imprisonment, but due to the plea by the defence counsel, Olanrewaju Adesanmi, who pleaded for leniency, he (the judge) reduced the jail term to two years.
“The first defendant is hereby sentenced to two years imprisonment,” the judge ruled.
The second defendant was discharged and acquitted as the court said the investigation conducted by the police on his involvement in the matter was shoddy.
The prosecuting counsel, Kayode Dare, expressed satisfaction on the judgment, saying the court had vindicated Pastor Akinbiyi and other members of his church, as it concerned alleged burying placentas on the altar of the church.