The Court of Appeal siting in Akure, Ondo state capital has set aside the judgment of the Ondo state high court that sentenced the founder of the Sotitobire Praising Chapel, Alfa Babatunde.
An Ondo State High court had sentenced the Prophet to life imprisonment over the disappearance of one- year -old boy, Gold Kolawole in his church in 2019.
The Sotitobire founder had asked the appeal court to nullify his life sentence conviction by the court.
The court ruled that the circumstantial evidence the high court based its judgement is not enough to convict him.
He was therefore discharged and acquited.
Globalgistng reported that 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.
“It was held that the appellant was not found culpable of the alleged offence. He is not guilty as pronounced upon by the trial court.
We are using this medium to tell the members of the church and the general public that they should rejoice with conscience.
They should not go out causing problems. They should take it that that is the will of God. We are happy about this,” the counsel said.