September 21, 2020
Judiciary

Trial of Sotitobire’s Prophet Babatunde: Court Adjourns Hearing

The trial of Sotitobire Miracle Centre founder, Prophet Alfa Babatunde and six members of his church has continued at an Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure despite the closure of courts nationwide as a result of coronavirus ravaging the world.

Babatunde is standing trial over the alleged disappearance of a year old boy, Gold Kolawole inside his church’s children’s section on Sunday November 10, 2019

During the hearing, a senior intelligence officer with the Department of State Service, DSS, Yomi Olabiyi gave evidence on the statements made by the defendants while in custody of the agency.

However, the court authorities as part of the Covid 19 precautionary measures reduced human access to the premises while hand washing bowls and soap were also provided at the two gates.

During examination of the DSS personnel, the Director of Public Prosecution, Mrs Grace Olowoporoku sought to tender as evidence the statements made by prophet Babatunde and defendants 2, 4, 6 and 7 while in the agency’s custody attested to by necessary persons including the defendants.

This position was however opposed by counsel to the defendants, led by Olusola Oke on the basis that at the time of obtaining the statements, it was counsel provided by the DSS from the legal aid council that was present contrary to claims of the agency that the counsel was engaged by their clients.

The trial judge, Justice Olusegun Odusola ruled in favour of the persecuting counsel, adding that section 17 of the administration of criminal justice law allows for a defendant’s counsel, a Legal Aid Council of Nigeria lawyer or justice of peace to be present when security agents elicit statements from suspects.

After over 6 hours of arguments and counter arguments, the court Adjourned till April 27, May 11 and 17, 2020 for further hearing.

Prophet Babatunde and his co-defendants have been returned the Nigerian Correctional Home, (formerly Olokuta Prisons Akure).

Leke Adegbite

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