A mob in Akure, the Ondo State capital, on Wednesday set on fire a popular miracle church, Sotitobire, over allegations that the pastor, Alfa Babatunde, was responsible for the kidnap of a one-year-old child on November 10, 2019.
Although the State Security Service had arrested the pastor over the missing child, rumours that the child’s body was exhumed from the church’s pulpit on Wednesday sparked outrage and an attack on the church by a mob.
It was gathered that rumours filtered in that the child had been found dead inside the church, after a futile search for over a month.
The mob invaded the church at about noon Wednesday when some church members were holding a programme. They chased the worshippers away leading to injuries for many including journalists and police officers.
But the Ondo State Police Command has debunked the rumour that the child’s body was found at the church.
The police urged members of the public to disregard the information even though it had already resulted in huge damage.
“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,” he said.
“The church building was also set ablaze by irate youths. Some of our officers despatched to the scene to contain the situation were pelted with stones with many of them sustaining injuries.
“Their patrol vehicle was also badly damaged.”
Mr Joseph said his rejoinder became necessary to rightly inform Nigerians who might have fallen for “this wicked lies and propaganda.”
He said the public should also not hold the notion that the command had abandoned the investigation of the incident, as the case file was being sent to the DPP for legal advice.
“Notwithstanding this latest incident, more reinforcement has been sent to the scene to contain the situation,” he added.