The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital, has discharged and acquitted the founder of Sotitobire Praising Chapel, Alfa Babatunde, who was earlier convicted by the state high court over the missing of a one-year-old boy, Gold Kolawole.
Kolawole was abducted in the church by unknown person in November 2019, during a service.
The defendants were subsequently arrested by operatives of Dapartment of State Services and later charged to court on a two-count of kidnapping and aiding and abetting to kidnap.
The One State High 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 the two charges.
But the lower court’s judgement was upturned by the Court of Appeal, on Friday.
Justice Hammah Barka, in his judgment said said circumstantial evidence upon which the lower court based its judgement was not enough to convict the appellants.
He consequently discharged and acquitted the appellants.
The judge also faulted the prayers of the counsel to the appellant, Gboyega Awomolo (SAN), who was represented by Akinyemi Omoware, that DSS cannot investigate crime.
Reacting, 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 line of action.