Operatives of the Nigeria Police Force on Friday night stormed a Church in Ondo State and rescued about 77 people, including children, from an underground apartment in the church.
The prompt response by the police was the result of public discontent with the activities of some false prophets and self-proclaimed men of God in the country believed to have been involved in varied nefarious practices to mislead their members to make quick wealth.
LEADERSHIP Sunday gathered the victims, including 23 children and 52 adults, making a total of 77 people, were rescued by the police.
It was learnt that the people who were abducted and kept in the underground cells in the Whole Bible Believer Church in the city were so dehumanized.
Residents of the town who spoke with our correspondent said there had been growing suspicion in the area that the values that have traditionally distinguished the Christian ministry are increasingly absent in the operations of the Ondo Church.
It was gathered that the pastor told the members in captivity that they should remain in the church and await the second coming of Jesus Christ by September this year.
The pastor of the church popularly known as Ondo Church and other accomplices had been arrested by police detectives in the town.
In a viral video, a voice was heard saying, “There are kidnapped children found in the underground cell of a church in Valentino Area of Ondo.
“The pastor and some members of the church have been arrested and were also in the patrol van of the police”.
The rescued people were seen in three commercial buses escorted by police patrol vehicles that conveyed them to the police station.
Parading the Pastor at the Police headquarters along Igbatoro Akure, the Ondo State capital yesterday, the Assistant Pastor of the Church identified as Pastor Peter Josiah said he was the one in charge of the church and only taught the members pure scripture.
He said, “I was called by God to rewrite the King James Version of the Bible because there is a lot that was wrong with the version of the Bible.
“I only teach them what the Bible says about the second coming of Jesus Christ. The prophecy that is fulfilling this time is showing that the rapture is close. I never even mentioned years to the church. I never taught them to run from their parents; I only teach them the gospel. I only tell them to obey their parents in the lord.”
The Pastor in charge of the church, Pastor David Anifowose, said he received the instruction from God that they should camp in the church until the second coming of Christ.
“I was the one that received the instruction from God that the people of the church can be in the Church and wait for his second coming. And my members were waiting for the second coming of Jesus when the policemen invaded the Church and arrested us.”
One of the church members, Olasunkami Olafisoye, a 24-year-old university graduate, said she disobeyed her parents because they were leading her away from God.
Olafisoye said, “My parents are not attending the Church again. When we left our former Church, they usually stayed at home and before then, I was not comfortable with the Bible teaching of the church.
“I later joined this church because my parents are leading me away from God and I want to make heaven. I love the way the church followed Jesus and the way they hold on to Christ.
“I disobeyed my parents because they are leading me away from Jesus and I find the way to heaven through this Church. I cannot because my parents lost heaven.”
One of the parents who reported the case to the police, Michael Olorunyomi, said he attended the church before and left the Church because of the wrong teachings the pastors were teaching the members.
“The Pastor teaches the Church members about the need to divorce their wives. The husbands are told to divorce their wives if they want to go to heaven.
“They turned the children against their parents by teaching them what is not found in the Bible. When I left the church, my daughter refused to follow me. I made the mistake of leaving her behind when I was leaving.
“Before I knew what was going on, my daughter who is at 300 level in the university dropped out and camped in the church waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ because the pastor said there is nothing again in the world; that the rapture will come in September this year.
“They even arranged a marriage between my daughter and one of the pastor’s families. They said nobody should go to work or school and they must do nothing other than waiting for him in the church.
“Look at every one of them; they looked unkempt. He instructed them they must not make their hair so that anybody that makes his hair will lose heaven.”
However, the Police PRO disclosed that 77 people were rescued from the underground apartment by the police during the Friday night raid while the two Pastors were arrested in connection to the incident.
She said, “We received information about the activities of a particular church and its Pastors and we reacted spontaneously and discovered 77 people being caged in an underground apartment within the church.
“The two Pastors have been helping the Command in its investigation. Investigation is still ongoing and the picture is not clear yet on the activities of the two Pastors.
“Abduction is not a small offence and for us not to mislead the public, we need to investigate the issue to get the true picture of what happened. We will make our findings public after the investigation.”