The Ondo State High Court sitting in Akure has rejected the application filed to unfreeze the bank accounts of Alfa Babatunde, the founder of the popular Sotitobire Miracle Centre, over the disappearance of a one-year-old boy, Eniola Gold Kolawole, in his church.
The defence counsel, Barrister Olusola Oke, had filed a motion urging the court to instruct the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to unfreeze the five financial accounts of Prophet Babatunde which was frozen during their investigation.
The High Court turned down the request and immediately ruled that the DSS, which froze the account of the prophet, should have been put on notice earlier by the counsel.
Prophet Babatunde and 6 other church members have been standing trial on three counts, including conspiracy to commit felony to wit: aiding and abetting kidnapping, aiding and abetting to kidnap and destroying evidence.
At the resumed hearing of the case, the court admitted as exhibit the attendance register of the church where it was confirmed that little Eniola’s name was no 87 on the list of registered children during the Sunday service of the church before he was declared missing.
Also, the court admitted as exhibit, a laptop that the DSS recovered from the church media officer containing some video footage of the prophet.
The video allegedly contained two footage where he was seen speaking on the young boy’s disappearance and his procession with a large crowd in town after the one-year-old child was declared missing.
The presiding judge, Justice Olusegun Odusola, asked that the footage of the video be played in the court but the defence counsel kicked against it, noting that he should have been availed the copies of the video too before it would be played.
The court also granted an application by the prosecution to file additional proof of evidence and call fresh witnesses despite objection by the defence that it could affect speedy prosecution of the case.
During cross-examination in the State High Court, Olakunle Adebayo, who is also the 7th witness for the prosecution in the case, told the judge that he was the leader of the DSS team that Investigated the case following some petitions from the House of Assembly and other bodies.
Adebayo revealed that some of the church ushers, during interrogation, claimed that they saw some strange faces who fed the little boy with rice from a nylon bag at the children department during the unfortunate Sunday service.
The witness, however, argued that the missing boy’s biological mother, Mrs Modupe Kolawole, and aunt could not be linked to the strange faces as seen by the ushers.
But in a counter-argument, the defence counsel, Barrister Oke faulted the claims that the prophet’s assistant made away with his phone.
According to the counsel, the statement before the secret service indicated that the prophet’s phone was with the Anti- Kidnapping Unit of the Ondo State Police Command.
In his ruling, Justice Odusola adjourned hearing on the plea to take the bail of the defendants till 23rd June 2020. He also adjourned the hearing that would open room for the defence of the prophet till the 15th, 16th and 18th of June 2020.
The judge later instructed that the prophet and other accused persons be remanded at the Olokuta facility of the Nigerian Correctional Service.