Ondo church rescue: ‘Victims’ opt to remain in custody until pastors released

It was dramatic on Monday at the Ondo State Police Command headquarters, Akure as some of the victims rescued from an underground church at Valentino area of Ondo town, in Ondo West local government area, by police refused to leave police custody.

Recall that 77 people compromising 54 adults and 23 children were allegedly hypnotised and kept in an underground room in the church known as Whole Bible Believer Church by the pastor of the church, David Anifowose, and his 45-year-old assistant, Josiah Peter, but were rescued last weekend by the police.

It was learnt that 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 to be salvaged and saved.

But while briefing newsmen on Monday on new development over the incident, the state police public relations officer (PPRO), Funmilayo Odunlami said despite different appeals, the victims vowed to remain in police custody until their pastor and his assistant are released.

Odunlami said, “Some of the parents said if not for what happened, they were not aware their children have left school while some said they were aware their children were in church but didn’t know the church.

“Despite all our thoughts, some of these victims refused to go home, saying they are ready to remain in police custody until their pastor and his assistant are released.

Read also: Gunmen abduct 2 Catholic priests in Edo

“We are trying to work out modalities on what to do to them to get them rehabilitated. We have over 10 people that refused to go home.”

The PPRO, however, said the pastor, Anifowose and his 45-year-old assistant, Josiah Peter would soon be charged to court immediately after the completion of their investigation over the incident.

In his reaction to the incident, Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu said the government was working out modalities to rehabilitate those that need rehabilitation and might go legally by taking custody of the children.

Akeredolu, who also spoke at the police headquarters through his commissioner for women affairs and social development, Adebunmi Osadaun said, “We just interviewed some of the children who are between aged 11 to 17 years old. The way they spoke seems they have been hypnotised. They speak with so much confidence that God will soon come (rapture) and they are on a 7-day camp, that they have not eaten for seven days and they still want to go on fasting.

“What baffles me as a mother is that these children are already hardened from the interview we conducted with them. They are indoctrinated. Some of the parents of the children even told us that they left the church when they started seeing some strange things.

“We also want to know if the Pastor partially believes there should be no education, then was his own children not educated and we were made to know that he has two children who are educated and graduated and now equally members of the church.

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