From Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The Akure Division of the Court of Appeal on Friday discharged and acquitted the founder of Sotitobire Prayer Centre, Akure, Prophet Alfa Babatunde who had earlier been sentenced to death by an Ondo State High Court over the disappearance of a year-old-baby, Gold Kolawole in his church.
Kolawole’s sudden disappearance during a programme at Alfa’s church had led to a protest by some members of the public. Some irate youths had during the protest burnt the church and vandalized many valuable belongings of the founder of the church.
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The Department of State Services (DSS) had taken over the case and prosecuted Alfa who was eventually sentenced to death by the State High Court. The parents of the one-year-old baby had told the court that their baby (Kolawole) was allegedly used for rituals as he could no longer be seen despite efforts by security agents.
The State High Court, after series of adjournments, declared that Alfa was instrumental to the disappearance and eventual death of Kolawole, and thereby sentenced him to death by hanging. But the Appeal Court in its judgment set aside the ruling of the lower court and set Alfa free.
The cleric, who had been standing trial since 2019, had asked the Appeal Court to nullify his conviction. The court ruled that the circumstantial evidence the High Court based its judgement on was not enough to convict him. Justicr Gamma Barka who read the judgement on behalf of other judges therefore discharged and acquitted him.
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Posted by: SunNews