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By: Ade Adeleke
The trial of Sotitobire Miracle Centre Founder, Prophet Alfa Babatunde and six members of his church continued today at an Ondo state High Court sitting in Akure despite the closure of court 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
SUNSHINETRUTH correspondent observed that few people were allowed to enter the court room and the State High Court premises due to the COVID-19 pandemic and need to observe social distancing.
His church members were barred from entering the court’s premises while only two journalists were allowed to enter the courtroom.
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.
Also on arrival, prophet Alfa Babatunde and his six co defendants were mandated to wash their hands before entering the court.
Legal fireworks then resumed after appearances by counsel.
It was the turn of the department of state service, DSS to give evidence as principal witness 4 and the secret agency was represented by the a Senior intelligence officer, Yomi olabiyi who recounted his investigation on the case
During examination of the DSS personnel, the director of public prosecution, 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.
The judge ruled in favour of the adminisiblity of the statements made by prophet Babatunde and defendants 2, 4 , 6, 7 as evidence for the trial on the basis that it was confirmed that a legal aid council of Nigeria was present at the time of recording.
After over 6 hours of arguments and counter arguments, the court Adjourned till April 27, May 11 and 17, 2020 for further hearing.
The State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adekola Olawoye (SAN) and two of the defendant’s counsel, akinyemi omoware and olusola oke expressed satisfaction with the proceedings.
Prophet Babatunde and his co defendants have been returned the Nigerian Correctional Home, (formerly Olokuta Prisons Akure).