A Chief Magistrate’s Court in Abeokuta, Ogun State, has discharged and acquitted an ex-president of the Students Union Government of the Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, Adegboye Olatunji, of cultism charges.
Olatunji, who was elected the union’s president in December 2019, was allegedly caught in the bush in the Gbogidi area of Ilaro, in the regalia of a cult, Black Axe, alongside one other 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 students’ parliament, while the school management also suspended him.
The former SUG president and Olanrewaju were later arraigned on three counts of conspiracy, and membership of an unlawful society and unlawful assembly.
Chief Magistrate J.E. Akan, in his judgment, however, said there were major contradictions in the testimonies of the prosecution witnesses on what led to the arrest of the two defendants.
The chief magistrate noted that the contradictions also exposed “all the fabricated tissue of lies woven together just to give the impression that the two defendants were having a secret cult initiation inside the bush.”
Akan discharged and acquitted the two defendants of the three counts.
He said, “It is instructive to note that the prosecution relies on the same set of facts and evidence as evaluated above to establish this charge. There are no other pieces of evidence separately led to establish this charge.
“The witnesses were already discredited during the cross-examinations and the truthfulness of their testimonies has been held to be in doubt. Needless to say here that there is no evidence with which the prosecution can establish the essential elements of this offence.
“It will amount to embarking on a voyage of discovery to an unknown destination when indeed there is no fact or evidence disclosed by any of the prosecution witnesses to establish this charge. In view of this, I have no hesitation to dismiss this count against the two defendants, and it is hereby dismissed.
“In conclusion, each of the three counts is hereby dismissed against each of the two defendants. A verdict of not guilty is hereby returned in favour of each of the two defendants. Each of them is hereby discharged and acquitted on each of the three count charge.”
Reacting to the judgment, Olatunji said he was convinced that his innocence would be proved by the court.
He lamented that many media platforms that reported his arrest did not follow the case to the judgment that acquitted him.
Olatunji, who is now the South-West Coordinator of the National Association of Nigerian Students, said his mother lost her job because of the shame the allegations brought to the family.
He said, “It was a bad experience. I could remember my mother lost many things; she lost her job and business because she sold everything just to make sure that I was okay. They all trusted me that I could not do such a thing. They stood by me, most especially my mom.
“When you search online, the old news about my arrest is coming up and it is really a blemish on my name.
“I was suspended at Federal Polytechnic, Ilaro, but I was later reinstated. I did the second semester exams. I have my result now because I graduated with upper credit.
“About two months ago, I did a court affidavit. I have changed my surname to Adejuwon. I changed the name because I have it in mind to change it immediately I finish my HND; it was just a coincidence that I am doing it now that there is negative news about me.”