Court remands group for worshipping late leader

Osogbo, Nigeria - An Osogbo Magistrate Court Tuesday ordered five members of the Millennium Gospel Mission (MGM), a group found worshiping the body of their founder, Adebayo Oladele, remanded in prison custody till Friday.

The people were arraigned on a five-count charge of conspiracy and misconduct to corpse; breach of public peace; illegally encroaching on a piece of land belonging to government at the Ido-Osun aerodrome; and preventing the people of the state access to the land meant for the aerodrome.

They were also accused of conducting themselves in improper manner by indirectly interfering with the corpse of Adebayo Oladele, the spiritual head of the MGM by failing, refusing or neglecting to bury his corpse and instead, choosing to worship his body, thereby committing an offence contrary to and punishable under section 518, 242 (1), 81 and 249(d) of the criminal code cap 34 Volume II laws of Osun State.

The accused persons are Janet Oluwaloni Oladele (40), Akinlolu Oladele (56), Olusanmi Ajayi Oladele (55), Moses Adebisi Oladele (45), and Gabriel Oladele (39.) The police prosecutor, Joshua Oladunjoye, asked the court not to grant the accused person bail because the police are still investigating the matter.

The accused persons pleaded not guilty to the offences read to them. The defence counsel, Tiamiyu Adegboye, did not however, plead for the bail of the accused persons, but only requested that the suspects be remanded in police custody for easy access to them.

Daily worship

The presiding Magistrate, Olalekan Ijiyode, ordered that the suspects be remanded at Ilesa Prison till 26th February 2010 when hearing will resume on the case.

The accused persons were arrested on February 5 by a combined team of policemen and community vigilante group in Ido-Osun, Egbedore local government area of Osun State.

The team met the worshippers at a shrine decorated with scores of human skulls and a decomposed body of an adult, believed to be the founder of the sect.

No fewer than 15 persons, including nine women were arrested by the police. One of the suspects, Ms. Oladele, who claimed to be a younger sister of the late founder, said the shrine is a church. She said their leader could not be buried like mere mortal beings and that they had to worship him daily.