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Crime

Missing child: Ondo pastor bags life imprisonment, court lampoons police

An Ondo State High Court has sentenced the founder of Sotitobire Praising Chapel, Pastor Samuel Babatunde, also known as Alfa Babatunde, to life imprisonment over the disappearance of a one-year-old boy, Gold Kolawole.

The boy was reportedly abducted by an unknown person during the church’s service at the children section of Sotitobire Praising Chapel, located at Oshinle Quarters in Akure, the state capital, in November last year.

The whereabouts of the boy was never known.

An angry mob razed the church building, while vehicles on the church’s premises were also destroyed.

Babatunde was arrested alongside seven other members of the church.

They were subsequently arraigned before a magistrates’ court on six counts.

Other convicts included Omodara Olayinka, Margaret Oyebola, Grace Ogunjobi, Egunjobi Motunrayo and Esther Kayode.

Later, the matter was transferred to the state High Court and as the case continued, the prosecuting and defence counsel argued, with witnesses being called at different court sittings.

Delivering his judgement on Tuesday, Justice Olusegun Odusola convicted the defendants and found them guilty on two counts of kidnapping and aiding and abetting to kidnap based on the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution.

On count one, Babatunde and the five church workers were sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for conspiracy to commit felony, to wit, aiding and abetting to kidnap.

Life imprisonment was pronounced on them on the second count of aiding and abetting kidnapping, contrary to and punishable under Section 5 of the Ondo State Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Law 2010.

In the over five hours judgment, the judge also condemned in strong terms the “complicity, connivance and compromise of the Ondo State Police Command” in the matter, adding that the lackadaisical attitude of the cleric was a pointer to his involvement in the disappearance of the missing boy from the church.

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