A group of 77 people have been rescued from the basement of a church in the Valentino area of Ondo town, Ondo State, following credible intelligence.
The total score of people reduced are made up of 25 children and 52 adults.
The victims, were allegedly hypnotised, abducted and kept in the underground cell in of the church known as Whole Bible Believer Church by the pastor of the church alongside his assistant. According to our sources the assistant pastor, Josiah Peter, claimed rapture was going to take place by September, hence he encouraged the church members to stay behind in the church.
Parading the suspects at command headquarters in Akure yesterday, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Funmilayo Odunlami, said the victims were camped in the church with the instruction that none of them must go out and that they should expect the second coming of Jesus Christ at any moment.
She said: “We had a case of suspected abduction. A parent walked up to a police station on Friday evening and she said some of her children left home since last week but knows where they were. Policemen followed her to the place and they found out that it was a church and attempt to talk to the pastor and invite him over proved abortive and members who were around turned violent by attacking policemen who were there.
“However, at the end of the day, we realised that the church has been keeping the members in an underground room. Basically, what we heard was that the assistant pastor, Josiah, claimed rapture was going to take place by April but later said it has been changed till September. So, he encouraged most of them to stay behind.
“He also brainwashed the children to obey only their parent in the Lord. Aside from that, we also realised that some of these children left home to be in the church since January. Some even left school for that purpose,” the PPRO noted.She added that the suspects would be charged to court upon completion of investigation.
While reacting, the 45-year-old Assistant Pastor of the Church, Josiah Peter, said he never hypnotised, brainwashed the church members or disconnected any children from their biological parents.
He said: “I preach to them, what the Bible teaches. We have been in the church on the basis of God’s instruction through our pastor, Anifowose David. He instructed us to camp for seven days. I am not aware of kids who have failed to write examinations or adults who choose not to work again because of rapture.”
One of the victims simply identified as Priscilla, who has refused to continue her education, said she decided to seek God before education. Priscilla who was in 400-level at the University of Medical Sciences, Ondo, added that she decided to leave her parents because their preaching was wrong.
The Pastor in charge of the church, David Anifowose, speaking while being paraded at the police headquarters, the Ondo State capital on Saturday, said he received the instruction from God that they should camp in the church until his second coming.
“I was the one that received the instruction from God that the people can stay 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 years 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 am not comfortable with the Bible teaching of the church.
“I later joined this church because my parent is 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.”
This is coming few days after the Department of State Security (DSS) raided a house located at JMDB quarters, in the Tudun Wada community of Jos North LGA of Plateau State and rescued 21 young people, including almajirai.
The victims alleged that they were forcefully brought to the house and converted to Christians.In April, the Ekiti police command also invited Nuah Abraham, the pastor of Christ High Commission Ministry, Kaduna State, for questioning over allegations of asking church members to pay N310,000 to prepare them for “rapture.”
According to the police, Abraham had asked his church members to relocate from Kaduna to a camp in Araromi-Ugbesi in Omuo-Oke, Ekiti State.