It was a black day for Residents of Oshinle Quarters in Akure, the Ondo state capital when one policeman and unidentified person were killed following protest by Irate youths who set ablaze a popular church, Sotitobire Miracle centre, over a missing boy.
It would be recalled that the Sotitobire General Overseer Alfa Babatunde was arrested last week Tuesday by the operatives of the Department of State Security – DSS.
The arrest followed a petition by parents of the missing one-year-old boy known as Eniola Gold Kolawole, who disappeared at the children section of the church during a service on November 10, 2019.
Rumours however had it on Wednesday morning that security operatives had exhumed corpse of the baby on the alter of the church.
This attracted hundreds of residents to Oshinle street in Akure where the church is located and subsequently irate youths razed down the church, set ablaze vehicles belonging to Sotitobire Church and looted properties.
Reacting, the Ondo state police command said the story of exhumed baby was fake.
The police public relations officer Femi Joseph in a statement said policemen dispatched to the scene to contain the situation were pelted with stones with many of them sustaining injuries while their patrol vehicle was also badly damaged.
“The Ondo State Police Command wishes to inform the general public particularly the People of Ondo State that they should disregard the rumours making the rounds that the body of a recently declared missing boy in the state has been exhumed from Sotitobire church in Akure.
“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 this wicked lies and propaganda.
“The public should also not be hoodwinked by reports that the command has abandoned the investigation of the incident, as the case file is already on the way to the DPP for legal advice.
“Notwithstanding this latest incident, more reinforcement has been sent to the scene to contain the situation,” said Femi Joseph.
In another statement, the police public relations officer, Femi Joseph has apologised for the harassment and manhandling of Journalists at the scene.
The Image maker however said the protest claimed the lives of a policeman,and a “suspected arsonist.”
“It just got to my notice that some members of the pen profession who were on hand to cover the incident at Sotitobire church this morning were harassed or manhandled by some overzealous policemen drafted to maintain order at the scene.
I want to sincerely and profusely apologize on behalf of the command. I will not stand here to say that some of our men,in the course of doing such job will not ruffle some feathers especially while controlling the unprecedented crowd where it might be difficult to know who is what . please and please forgive them although we shall take some steps to upbraid those recalcitrant ones among them even if to forestall future reoccurrence.
We respect you journalists as great partners in building the society of our dreams. Yes, as friends we seldom disagree but we remain inseparable colleagues. Once again am on my knees apologising on their behalf.
On a sad note, as a result of fake news today, we lost a policeman, and a suspected arsonist.. Let’s guide against fake news… Femi Joseph PPRO Ondo State.”