SOTITOBIRE PASTOR RETURNED TO PRISON AS COURT BEGINS HEARING OF KIDNAPPING CASE

Peter Dada, Akure

The founder of the Sotitobire Praising Chapel, Akure, Alfa Babatunde, was not granted bail, on Thursday by the State High Court, sitting in Akure, the state capital.

Hundreds of followers and worshippers of the church, who stormed the court premises to witness the court proceedings, and waited for his bail to be granted were disappointed as their pastor was taken back to the Olokuta Correctional Centre, Akure.

The state High Court on Thursday began the hearing of Babatunde and six other defendants, who are standing trial over the disappearance of a one-year-old boy, Gold Kolawole, who was allegedly abducted in the church. The case was transferred from the magistrates’ court, which reportedly had no jurisdiction to hear the matter.

Kolawole was allegedly abducted during a Sunday service of the church by an unknown person in November last year and his whereabouts remained unknown till the present time.

Consequently, the pastor and other defendants were arrested and arraigned before a magistrates’ court by the men of the state security service on six counts. They were later remanded in prison custody by the court.

On the first hearing of the case at the High Court, the defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges preferred against them.

Addressing the court, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs Bola Joel-Okudadegbe, asked the court for a short adjournment to enable her to prepare the seven witnesses listed for the case.

Also, the counsel for the first defendant, Mr Olusola Oke, made efforts on the bail applications of the defendants, which was earlier filed on the matter but the DPP opposed the application on the grounds that there were many applications in that respect.

After the arguments from the counsels, the trial judge, Justice Olusegun Odusoka, promised to give the case accelerated hearing and adjourned the matter till March, 16, 17 and 19, 2020 for further hearing.  The defendants were later returned to prison custody.

The defence counsel, Olusola Oke, who spoke with journalists after the court proceedings, urged all the security agencies involved in the matter to do a thorough investigation on the matter in order for the truth and justice to be achieved.

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