Drama in Ondo as rescued church members refuse to leave police custody
Ondo Govt opts to rehabilitate victims
A mild drama ensued yesterday in Ondo State, when some victims rescued at an underground Church in Valentino area of Ondo City in Ondo West Local Council, refused to leave police custody.
Briefing newsmen on the development at the Command Headquarters in Akure, the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Mrs. Funmilayo Odunlami, said the victims vowed to remain in police custody until their pastor and his assistant are released.
For the record, no fewer than 77 people comprising 54 adults and 23 children were allegedly abducted and kept in an underground cell of a popular church, the Whole Bible Believer Church, popularly known as Ondo Church.
The pastor of the Church, Mr Anifowose David and his 45-year-old assistant, Mr Josiah Peter Asumusu, were arrested at the weekend after a hint by the parents of the victims.
Odunlami said; “Some of the parents said if not for what happened, they were not aware that their children had abandoned school, while some said they were aware that their children were in church but didn’t know the church.
“Despite our efforts and placation, 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. We have a child, who said she will follow the Lord and not her parents.
“She said she was okay staying within the police compound since their pastor is still here. We are trying to work out a modality on how the Ministry of Women Affairs in the state can rehabilitate them. We have over 10 that have refused to go home.”
The PPRO added that the pastor, Anifowose and his 45-year-old assistant, Asumusu, will be charged to court upon completion of an investigation.
MEANWHILE, the state governor, Oluwarotimi Akeredolu (SAN), has said the government is working out modalities to rehabilitate those that need rehabilitation and might go legally by taking custody of the children
Akeredolu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development, Mrs. Adebunmi Osadaun, said: “We just interviewed some of the children who are between the ages of 11 and 17 years.
“The way they spoke seems like they have been hypnotised. They speak with so much confidence that God will soon come (rapture) and they are on a seven-day camp. 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.
“The parents also alleged that the children refused to take immunisation and the children confirmed that. They said it’s evil to take immunisation.
“We also want to have a data base of the children through family tracing from the Ministry so that we can get how they were hypnotised and indoctrinated. And if they need rehabilitation, then we would have to go legally by taking custody of the children.
“The way some of the children are talking, so of them should even be taken to rehabilitation homes. They are living in a different world entirely. They look so weird,” the governor added.