A 45-year-old Celestial Church pastor, Ejiro Ologonla, has been arrested after homicide detectives from the Lagos State Criminal Intelligence and Investigations Department (SCIID) Panti Street, Yaba, tracked the phone of a missing person to him.
The phone belonged to a 29-year-old man, Olatunfe Anthony Oluwafemi, who was declared missing in December 2019.
The pastor was arrested at the Oniru beach, Victoria Island, Lagos.
Other items belonging to the missing person allegedly found with the pastor included clothes, shoes and an undisclosed sum of money.
The pastor allegedly sold the phone to one Tolu Olurotimi, 20, for N1,500.
Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, explained on Sunday that the Command had on December 20, 2019 received a complaint that the missing person, Oluwafemi, of No. 27, Owode Street, Alapere, Ketu, who was sent on an errand to Ilupeju, has not been seen.
Elkana added that one Itel phone belonging to the missing person was electronically analysed by police forensic experts, leading the arrest of the user of the phone, one Monsurat Gbadegeshin, 23.
Gbadegeshin, in her statement, said her fiancee, Abiodun Abiola, gave her the phone.
Abiola was subsequently arrested.
Questioned, Abiola said it was Olurotimi who sold the phone to him, and Olurotimi, in turn, said he bought the phone from the pastor, Ologonla.
However, the pastor claimed he was at the beach when the missing person had jumped into the sea, after which he collected the man’s belongings.
Elkana said, “During questioning, Ologonla said he was at Oniru beach for spiritual cleansing when he met Olatunfe Anthony Oluwafemi, whom he claimed had arrived there drunk and had started chasing people around.
“Ologonla further alleged that at a point, he saw Oluwafemi climbing a fisherman’s boat, and later he saw the missing person pulling off his clothes and shoes, and then dropping his phone and jumping into the sea.
“He claimed that he informed the security men on guard duty at the beach and also called a police officer, as well as one Princess Arike Oniru on phone to intimate them of the incident.
“He said he finally picked up Oluwafemi’s clothes, shoes and phone and sold the phone to Tolu Olurotimi for N1,500 only.”
The police PRO added that the fisherman, the Princess and others mentioned by the pastor as his witnesses were questioned.
Elkana added, “The fisherman confirmed that he was alerted and that when he arrived, he saw the missing person hanging.
“He also claimed that he promised to give him fish but that when he came back the following day he did not see the man again.
““The princess also confirmed that the pastor called her to inform that somebody jumped into the sea and she advised him to report the incident to the nearest police station.”
But, according to Elkana, security guards on duty at the beach denied receiving any report of anybody jumping into the sea during the period.
The police spokesman said circumstantial evidence suggests that the pastor was behind the disappearance of the missing person.
He said, “The clothes and shoes of the missing person were found in possession of the pastor. It is established that the missing person was actually at Oniru beach before his disappearance.
“The pastor was the last person that had contact with the missing person.
“It is not yet established, though, whether the missing person is dead or still alive but circumstantial evidences gathered so far are strongly pointing towards the pastor.
“The pastor did not just sell the phone belonging to the missing person, he also converted the money he found in the trouser of the missing person to his own use.
“There is no record showing that the pastor reported the incident to any police station.”
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