The Abeokuta Magistrate Court, Ogun State, dismissed and acquitted the former Federal Polytechnic Student Union Government Chairman, Ilaro, Adegboye Olatunji, on charges of cultism.
Olatunji, who was elected union president in December 2019, was allegedly trapped in the bushes in the Gbogidi area of Ilaro, wearing the regalia of a cult, Black Axe, along with another student, Taiwo Olanrewaju.
PUNCH Metro had reported that the police claimed to have arrested the student leader and his accomplice during initiation rites.
Olatunji was subsequently impeached by the student parliament, while he was also suspended by the school management.
The former SUG president and Olanrewaju were later prosecuted for three counts of conspiracy and membership in an illicit society and unlawful assembly.
However, Chief Magistrate JE Akan said in his sentencing that there were major inconsistencies in the testimony of prosecution witnesses as to what led to the arrest of the two defendants.
The chief magistrate noted that the contradictions also exposed “all the fabricated fabric of lies woven together just to give the impression that the two defendants had an initiation into a secret cult within the bush.”
Akan released and cleared the two defendants of all three charges.
He said: “It is instructive to note that the prosecution is based on the same set of facts and evidence previously evaluated to establish this charge. There are no other tests conducted separately to establish this charge.
“The witnesses have already been discredited during cross-examination and the veracity of their testimonies has been called into question. It goes without saying here that there is no evidence with which the prosecution can establish the essential elements of this crime.
“It will be like embarking on a voyage of discovery to an unknown destination when, in fact, none of the prosecution witnesses revealed any facts or evidence to establish this charge. In view of this, I have no hesitation in dismissing this charge against the two defendants, and it is hereby dismissed.
“In conclusion, each of the three charges against each of the two defendants is hereby dismissed. A not guilty verdict is entered in favor of each of the two defendants. Each of them is hereby released and acquitted of each of the three charges.”
Reacting to the sentence, Olatunji said he was convinced the court would prove his innocence.
He regretted that many media outlets that reported his arrest did not follow up on the case until the sentence that acquitted him.
Olatunji, who is now the South West Coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students, said his mother lost her job due to the shame the allegations brought to the family.
He said: “It was a bad experience. I could remember that my mother lost many things; she lost her job and her business because she sold everything just to make sure i was okay. They all trusted me that I couldn’t do such a thing. They supported me, especially my mom.
“When you search online, old news about my arrest comes up and it really is a stain on my name.
“They suspended me at the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, but then they reinstated me. I did the second semester exams. I have my result now because I graduated with superior credit.
“About two months ago, I made an affidavit in court. I have changed my last name to Adejuwon. I changed the name because I have in mind to change it immediately I finished my HND; It was just a coincidence that I’m doing it now that there’s negative news about me.”