Police in Ondo State command on Saturday, arrested a pastor and assistant pastor of a church, the Whole Bible Believers Church popularly known as Ondo Church, David Anifowose and Peter Josiah, for luring and harbouring about 77 people who have been hypnotised in an underground apartment of the church.
The two pastors were alleged by the relatives of the people to have hypnotized them and camped them in an isolated apartment within the church located in the Valentino area of Ondo town, in Ondo West Local Government Area of the state, on the pretence of religious abduction.
According to the State Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO), Funmilayo Odunlami, who explained that the two pastors were arrested following complaints from some parents of the underaged children camped in the church and would never allow the parents to have access to their wards.
Odulami said 77 people, including 23 underaged and 54 adults, were rescued from the den of the pastors, who insisted that they were kept in the church for special cleansing and deliverance ahead of the Second coming of Jesus Christ
The two pastors who denied the allegations levelled against them, however, said they never turned the children and the people against their biological parents but they were taught not to disobey their fathers in the lord.
Speaking, one of the parents alleged that her daughter has been hypnotized and refused to come home since January and said the two pastors had brainwashed her daughter against her parents, while they encouraged her to drop out of school.
It was gathered that the arrest of the two pastors of the church followed complaints by some parents of the children who had been camped in a special place in the church.
One of the parents who visited the church to pick her daughter billed to write her secondary school entrance examination caused an uproar and was thrown out of the church and had to report to the police.
It was gathered that the boy was not allowed to write the entrance examination as the two pastors had been preaching against going to school because they would not need education after being taken to heaven.
One of the parents, who identified herself as Mrs. Jessica Akintemi said two of her daughters and her husband had been hypnotised and had been living in the church since January 2022.
She said her husband, Rotimi Akintemi, a mathematics teacher in one of the private secondary schools in Ondo, has stopped going to work but is awaiting the return of Jesus Christ.
She said my husband has refused to come home since January 21 with my daughters and they have stopped going to school awaiting the return of Jesus Christ as predicted by the pastors
“I left the church because of the doctrine introduced by the new assistant pastor, Josiah. Most married women have been encouraged to leave their matrimonial home and divorce their husbands in order to reach heaven.
“The assistant pastor said he was called by God to rewrite the King James Version of the Bible as there are some things that are not right in the Bible and our children have been hypnotised with these teachings.
“They have been instructed to keep their hair unkempt to make heaven. Look at all the women around you. They will never make their hair and they have all been hypnotised to think that Jesus is coming in September.
“They were told to be ready to be raptured in April this year, but the pastors told them Jesus had delayed till September and urged them to stay in church for deliverance.”
However, the daughter of the woman, Priscilla, denied disobeying her parents but said she chose to follow the directives of her fathers in the lord in order to make heaven.
She said she decided to stay away from home and abandoned her studies at Millennium School of Health in the third year to obey and follow the instructions of her father in the lord.
She said, “My parents have dragged the pastors to court over the issue and we are still in court and I am following the doctrine of the church by following the dictate of my fathers in the lord to make heaven.”
While speaking, the assistant pastor, said they were in the church in accordance with the message and prophecy received from God, saying “We were in the church before we were rudely interrupted.”
One of the people rescued, who graduated from the University of Medical Science, James Anifowose, said he decided not to observe the one-year compulsory service because of the COVID-19 vaccine, saying it is against the doctrine of the church and opted to shun youth corps service.
However, the PPRO disclosed that 77 people were rescued from the underground apartment by the police during the Friday night raid while the two Pastor 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 over the activities of the two pastors.
“Abduction is not a small offence for us, but for us not to mislead the public, we need to investigate the issue to get the true picture of what happened.
“The fact remains that there was actually a misdemeanour in a church and the people around reacted and we went there to ascertain this but we just need to investigate and unravel the facts about the incident. We will make our findings public after the investigation “