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FROM CHURCH TO SHRINE: ‘My son will be found’

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…mum of boy stolen during service vows after oath-taking at Akure shrine

…Church officials also take oath
…Police dismiss claim of foot-dragging

By Dayo Johnson, Akure

It is 21 days since one-year-old Gold Kolawole went missing during a Sunday service at Sotitobire Prayer University in Solagbade area of Osinle Quarters, Oke-Aro, Akure.

But the police seem to have lost steam in finding the missing boy while members of the public ponder on the mysterious disappearance of the toddler at the church creche where 14 minders kept watch.

Last Thursday, minders and parents of the missing boy, Temitope and Modupe Kolawole, took part in oath-taking at Odoro Shrine within the palace of the Deji of Akure, Oba Adelusi Aladetoyinbo.

Palace sources informed Sunday Vanguard that the General Overseer of the church, Prophet Samuel Babatunde Alfa, did not take part in the oath-taking

He was said not to have been implicated in the statements made by the parents of the missing boy at the palace.

The sources said Ondo State Police Command took over the case after the oath-taking.

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It was, however, not known what would happen after the oath had been taken by the minders and parents of the missing boy.

Confirming that the oath-taking had been done, the Chief Press Secretary to the Deji, Michael Adeyeye, said the exercise took place on Thursday.

“The children’s teachers alongside the parents of the missing boy took part in the oath-taking at the palace”, Adeyeye said.

On why the General Overseer was left out of the exercise, Adeyeye said he was not indicted by the parents of the missing boy in their statements at the palace.

On the next line of action, the spokesperson said, “That is all for now. The police have taken over the matter”.

Sunday Vanguard gathered that, traditionally, days after oath-taking in situations like that, perpetrators would be revealed.

The sources declined to be specific on when this could happen but “within a number of days the whole truth would be revealed traditionally and the whereabouts of the boy would be known”.

One of the sources added, “It would further be revealed if the boy is still alive or dead”.

Meanwhile, tongues kept wagging over the protest by half naked women in support of the General Overseer of the church.

The old women who wore only bra wrappers stormed the church auditorium and spoke one after the other exonerating their prophet of wrong doing.

They vowed to go to any length to ensure that “the Man of God was not rubbished and his ministry’s image rubbed in the mud”.

According to them, the enemies were jealous of the growth of the church and wanted to frustrate the good work of the prophet.

“We are behind you. You are unmovable and unshakeable. They have failed. We will triumph. It is outright blackmail and mudslinging by agents of darkness”, they said.

Critics alleged that some top police officers who are members of the church may have been suppressing investigation into the case of the missing boy hence the non-arrest by police detectives three weeks after the incident.

Meanwhile, a human rights group, the Sunshine for Integrity and Justice, has frowned at the way the police were handling the matter.

Its coordinator, Odion Matthew, alleged that the police command was lackadaisical in its investigation into the matter.

“It would be a thing of shame and ineptitude for Ondo State Police Command not to have taken any serious step on the matter. A whole human being was missing, not an object and the police seem to have kept quiet about it; it is unfortunate”, Matthew said.

“For over two weeks now, nobody has been arrested or interrogated among the care givers in the church under whose care the boy was missing.

“How could a boy have gone missing among many children at the juvenile section of the church and the police are keeping quiet?

“This is not good enough for a country like Nigeria. We believe we are not in a jungle. So the police must act on this matter.

“The perceived silence of the police on the matter, and the experience in the past in this country, is luring one to believe that there is an attempt to let the matter suffer a natural death.”

He called on the Inspector General of Police, Mr Mohammed Adamu, to order for a full investigation into the matter.

Sunday Vanguard reliably gathered the state Police Commissioner, Adie Udie, has ordered that the mobile phones of the General Overseer and the father of the missing boy be seized by police detectives investigating the incident.

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It was said that the command was desperate to get to the root of the matter hence the seizure of the phones.

The police, it was learnt, may have commenced a forensic analysis of the calls received before the kidnap incident and after on the mobile phones of the General Overseer and the father of the missing boy.

The police have however denied that they were foot dragging on the case.

Police spokesman Femi Joseph said, “lt is not when police arrest people indiscriminately that you know that we are working.

“The Commissioner of Police invited all those concerned including the General Overseer of the church, the children’s teachers, ushers and parents of the missing boy.

“They were drilled personally by the state Police Commissioner for over three hours. So the allegation that we are not doing anything is far from being true.

“The matter has been handed over to the Criminal Investigative Department for proper investigation.

“The police are no magician. We are sad about the incident and would unravel those behind the kidnapping of the boy during church service.

“We are digging deep into the mystery surrounding the disappearance of the boy and l want to assure you that we will come up with the facts and will make them open to the public”.

The General Overseer of the church where the boy went missing, Prophet Alfa, had insisted that his hands were clean on the case.

“I was on the altar when the ushers informed me of what happened in the children church. I immediately dispatched my pastors and leaders to attend to the situation”, he had said.

“We finished service that Sunday around 5pm and I invited them and after I heard their story I invited the police. This is the first time such incident will happen since we started this church”.

The mother of the missing boy, Modupe, while speaking to Sunday Vanguard, said she was still worried that the police were yet to make any arrest.

“l am highly disappointed that nobody has been arrested since my son disappeared in that church”, she said.

“Our telephones were seized and they just returned them. The police said they have interrogated the children’s teachers but no arrest made since.

“But l have faith and hopeful that I will still see my son. The devil will be put to shame at the end of the day”.

When told it was going to three weeks, the mother of the missing boy said, “Nothing is impossible for God to do. I have absolute faith and still hopeful that I will still see Gold, my dear son. I won’t lose hope no matter what anybody does on this matter.

“Those expected to act are foot-dragging because we are not well connected. But God is still on the throne and would fight for us, the down trodden.

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“Let them continue to use their power to suppress the matter. The truth will surely prevail”.

Vanguard

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