The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, Ondo State capital, has discharged and acquitted the founder of Sotitobire Praising Chapel, Akure, Alfa Babatunde, who was earlier convicted by the state High Court over the missing of a one-year-old boy, Gold Kolawole.
Kolawole was abducted in the church in November 2019 by an unknown person, during the church service. Defendants were thereafter arrested by the men of the Directorate of State Security and later charged to court on a two-count of kidnapping and aiding and abetting to kidnap.
The lower court, presided over by Justice Olusegun Odusola in 2020 sentenced Babatunde and five others – Omodara Olayinka, Margaret Oyebola, Grace Ogunjobi, Egunjobi Motunrayo and Esther Kayode – to life imprisonment, having found them guilty of two charges.
However, the high court judgement was upturned as the appellate judge, Justice Hammah Barka, said the circumstantial evidence upon which the lower court based its judgement was not enough to convict the appellants.
As a result, he discharged and acquitted the appellants.
In his reaction, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Charles Titiloye, who is also the prosecutor, said the state government would study the judgement before deciding on the next step to take on the matter.