The Court of Appeal sitting in Akure, the Ondo State capital has granted the founder of Sotitobire Prayer Center, Babatunde Alfa the permission to amend his grounds of appeal pending before the court.
The Presiding Judge, Justice Rita Nosakhare Pemu granted the leeway to amend the grounds of appeal after counsel to the convicted founder of the church, Chief Adegboyega Awomolo SAN sought the permission of the court for the amendment.
Alfa was sentenced to life imprisonment after one year trial for conspiracy and kidnap of one-year old Gold Kolawole who was missing during a church service in his church in 2019.
However, three months after the conviction, Alfa approached the Appeal court for reprieve, seeking to upturn the verdict of the State High Court that sentenced him to prison for life.
In his initial five grounds of appeal, Alfa asked the appellate court to upturn the judgement of the lower court which convicted him for aiding and abetting in the kidnapping of Baby Gold Kolawole.
But when the case for hearing , Alfa amended the grounds of appeal to include 12 additional grounds of appeal. In all, Prophet Alfa filed 17 grounds of appeal asking the court to invalidate the conviction.
In the grounds filed by Chief Adegboyega Awomolo and his wife, Victoria, Prophet Alfa asked the appellate court to upturn the judgment of Justice Olusegun Odusola which he claimed was based on the circumstantial evidence presented by the prosecution led by the former Attorney General, Adekola Olawoye SAN.
Prophet Alfa contended among other that the judge erred in law as the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, because the Depatment of State Security DSS that brought the case to coirg has no powers to investigate the matter as it is the police that have power to investigate the matter.
Prophet Alfa said the court erred in law when he convicted him for the count of conspiracy to aid and abet kidnapping of Baby Gold Kolawole where there was least evidence that he and other co-accused at any point in time had the meeting of the mind to commit any offence neither was there any evidence of the acts of any of the co-defendants with the appellants in the conspiracy to aid and abet kidnapping of the boy and thereby occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice.
Also, he said the judge eered in law when he made specific findings of fact before the evaluation of the evidence which entails the trial judge examining all the evidence before him before making his findings and thereby made prejudicial findings adverse to the justice of the case.
He argued that the court convicted him for aiding and abetting of kidnapping contrary to Section 516 of the criminal code cap 37, laws of Ondo State, 2016 when the court was fully aware that the investigation of the crime, arraignment and trial didn’t follow the due process of the law and thereby made the conviction a nullity.
The Court after the application by Awomolo granted the application for amendment and asked the Ondo State government who is the respondent to respond within 14 days of receipt of the appeal papers.