By Dayo Johnson, Akure
ALL the branches of Sotitobire Miracle Centre across Ondo State have been deserted after the razing of its headquarters and the General Overseer, Prophet Babatunde Alfa, remanded at the Olokuta Correctional Centre, Akure after one-year-old Gold Kolawole went missing at the headquarters branch over a month ago.
Uncertainty reigned over the church.
Reports said members may have been ‘defecting’ to other churches as the General Overseer spent Christmas and the New Year day in prison.
Many of the members with church stickers on their vehicles and bands on their wrists, it was learnt, have been removing them.
Irate youths had set the headquarters branch ablaze and went further to burn down the Ajipowo branch same day to show their displeasure over the missing boy’s case.
The development forced the police to deploy to the razed churches and the private residence of the clergyman after it was equally attacked and several vehicles damaged.
While the Department of State Service, DSS, which arrested Alfa, took the glory for doing something over the missing boy’s case, the police, which was accused of foot-dragging, arraigned 13 suspected arsonists in court in connection with the razed churches.
Then the DSS, in a surprise move, arraigned the clergyman in the Magistrate Court.
The court was jam-packed on arraignment day as members of the church trooped out to give their prophet moral support.
Their hope that Alfa would be granted bail was, however, dashed.
Even the prophet, who was expecting that he would be released on bail, burst into tears as Magistrate Charity Adeyanju ordered that he be remanded in prison custody.
His church members also could not hold their tears as they wept profusely seeing their prophet being pushed into the Black Maria by prison wardens.
It was a pitiable sight as the church members and the clergyman wept like a baby.
While arraigning the General Overseer and six children teachers of Sotitobire Miracle Centre in court, the DSS accused them of conspiracy to kidnap and aiding kidnapping of Gold during a Sunday service at the headquarters of the church in Oshinle area of the state capital on November 10.
The six children teachers are Omodara Olayinka, Margaret Oyebola, Grace Ogunjobi, Egunjobi Motunrayo, Esther Kayode and Peter Anjorin.
Peter Anjorin was separately accused by the prosecutor of destroying evidence by secretly taking away evidence that would have aided speedy investigation of the missing child.
The charge against Anjorin read, “That on the 10th day of December 2019 at about 2:00 pm at the premises of the Department of State Service, Alagbaka, Akure, Ondo State in the Akure Magisterial District, you did destroy evidence by secretly taking away vital evidence that would have aided speedy investigation in respect of the missing child (Gold Eninlaloluwa Kolawole) and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 123 of Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. I Laws of Ondo State 2006.”
The accused persons were brought to the court by operatives of the DSS around 9am in a white bus marked AKR – 54-AM.
The prosecutor, Joseph Dada, said the offence was contrary to and punishable under Section 5(i) of the Ondo State Anti-Kidnapping and Anti-Abduction Law, 2010 as well as under Section 516 of Criminal Code, Cap 37, Volume I Laws of Ondo State 2006.
The charge sheet for all the suspects read, “That you Prophet Alfa Babatunde ’m’, Omodara Olayinka ’f’, Margaret Oyebola ‘f’, Grace Ogunjobi ‘f’, Egunjobi Motunrayo ’f’, Esther Kayode ’f’, Peter Anjorin ‘m’ and others now at large, on the 10th day of November 2019 at about 11:45 am at Sotitobire Praising Chapel, No. 48, Solagbade Street, Oshinle Quarters, Akure, Ondo State in the Akure Magisterial District, did conspire together to commit felony to wit: Kidnapping, and thereby committed an offence contrary to and punishable under Section 516 of Criminal Code, Cap 37, Vol. I Laws of Ondo State 2006″.
Trial Magistrate Adeyanju, after listening to the arguments of the prosecutor and counsel to the defendants, Olusola Oke, ruled that she did not have the jurisdiction to try the alleged offences.
She then said that the accused persons be remanded in prison custody pending the conclusion of investigation and arraignment at the High Court and adjourned the case till January 17, 2020.
Recall that the mother of the missing boy, Modupe Kolawole, had taken him to the church while looking for miracle but ended up losing him to suspected kidnappers.
Modupe said she dropped the son at the church children section only to come back to discover that he had disappeared without trace since November 10.
Speaking after the court session, Oke said, “The prosecution presented two contradictory positions. There was an application filed where they alleged that the General Overseer confessed to the allegation of kidnapping.
“We challenged them to present the evidence of his confession but they did not bring something like that to court.
“Also, contrary to what we heard in the public domain about kidnapping, they were charged with conspiracy and aiding kidnapping. These are two different situations because if he actually kidnapped, it would be brought to the public that he kidnapped but apparently they have nothing against him.
“We believe that if the man indeed is culpable, he should be punished. But at the same time, there is no need to crucify somebody who has done no wrong.”
Also, 13 suspected persons were ordered to be remanded at the Olokuta Correctional Center by an Akure Magistrate’s Court for their alleged involvement in the killing of a policeman and the razing of Sotitobire Miracle Centre.
They were arraigned on six count charges of murder, arson, theft and vandalism.
The prosecutor, ASP Moses Adeosun, prayed that the defendants be remanded in prison pending investigation into the matter.
In a related development, the Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, and his Olori, Naomi, are reported to have waded into the case of the missing boy.
The mother of the boy confirmed this to Sunday Vanguard.
“It is true that the Kabiyesi, the Ooni of Ife, and the wife invited us to the palace in lfe”, Modupe Kolawole said.
“We briefed the Kabiyesi and the Olori on how the incident happened over a month ago. “They sympathized with us and promised to get back to us”.
Meanwhile, family sources said the embattled clergyman has turned the Olokuta Correctional Centre to a crusade ground and reportedly winning souls for Christ in the prison.
The sources said Alfa organised programmes for the prison inmates during Christmas and New Year day, thereby leading many of them to Christ.
They denied a report that the prophet took ill following alleged hunger strike.