An angry mob in Ondo state, Nigeria, set fire to a popular church on Wednesday over allegations that its pastor was responsible for the kidnapping and consequent murder of a one-year-old last month.
One-year-old Gold Kolawole was kidnapped from the crèche section of the Sotitobire Miracle Centreon in Akure, Ondo state, on November 10, during a Sunday morning service where 14 officials had been manning the pews.
The State Security Service (SSS) has since arrested the pastor and supposed miracle worker Alfa Babatunde over the child’s disappearance. The accused has since been kept in detention, although Premier Times reports that his family members are raising alarm over his health, which has deteriorated as he has been unable to access the necessary health treatment.
Reports that the child’s body had been exhumed from the church initially surfaced on Wednesday, leading to outrage among local townsfolk. Outraged by the reports, an angry mob spontaneously stormed the church around midday on Wednesday as members of the congregation were worshipping.
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Sotitobire Miracle Church in Akure, Ondo state, has been set on fire by irate youths after the corpse of a one year old boy declared missing in the church was allegedly exhumed. It has not been confirmed that the body of the child was found in the church. In November, Gold Kolawole, the baby, was declared missing during a church service. According to sources within the church, the boy who was at the children’s department of the church could not be found after the service. Modupe Kolawole, mother of the child and member of the church, said she suspects foul play in the disappearance of her son. Alfa Babatunde, founder of the church, was arrested following the incident, and he has been in the custody of the DSS. He was arrested based on a petition written by the parents of the missing child. . . . . #miraclechurch . #asoebi #asoebiinspiration #asoebi_classic #asoebiguest #asoebiworld #asoebinaija #ankara #ankaradress #ankarastylesafrica #ankarafabrics #ankarafashion #ankarafashiongallery #ankaracollections #ankaradesign #princesshyngle #ankarastylesafrica #ankarastylesafrica #explore #explorepage #asoebibella #regran
The mob then violently forced worshipers out of the building, causing injuries to them as well as journalists and police officers by pelting them with stones, before setting the church on fire. Authorities have since confirmed that two police officers had died from their injuries.
After the mayhem had ended, Ondo State Police Command claimed the public had been hoodwinked by “wicked lies and propaganda.”
“The Ondo State Police Command wishes to inform the general public particularly the People of Ondo State that they should disregard the rumors making the rounds that the body of a recently declared missing boy in the state has been exhumed from Sotitobire church in Akure,” said Police Public Relations officer Femi Joseph in a statement.
It is most unfortunate that this misleading information spearheaded by a popular TV station has ignited a spontaneous reaction from the people leading to wanton destruction of properties and injuries to many.
The church building was also set ablaze by irate youths. Some of our officers dispatched to the scene to contain the situation were pelted with stones with many of them sustaining injuries.
Their patrol vehicle was also badly damaged. This rejoinder became necessary to disabuse the minds of many Nigerians who might have fallen for these wicked lies and propaganda.
Joseph confirmed that ten people had been arrested in connection to the incident and that criminal investigations were ongoing.
In September, a church in neighboring Cameroon was burned to the ground by the Islamic terror group Boko Haram as they sought to move their operating base from northern Nigeria to Cameroon. Aside from the arson, the jihadists also burned 50 concessions, stole some 200 goats and sheep, and slaughtered one cow.
Ondo state is not known for a significant radical Islamic presence and there is no evidence made public at press time to indicate the burning of the church Wednesday was a terrorist attack.