Read More Atheist Republic Dozens of people held captive in the basement of a church in Nigeria were freed by the police. They were waiting for their ascend to heaven after the second coming of Jesus Christ, as preached by the pastors responsible for the abduction.
The authorities had rescued at least seventy-seven people from inside an evangelical church in the state of Ondo, Nigeria. Pastors from the Whole Bible Believing Church had kept them locked up in the church’s basement with the promise that the rapture, the second coming of Christ, would be soon, assuring the pious believers who remained in the church would ascend directly to heaven.
The authorities suspected this was a mass kidnapping or child trafficking incident.
According to local reports, some people had been held captive in the church for months. The Pastor, David Anifowoshe, had convinced the believers “to stay behind” till the rapture. He initially said that Christ would make his return in April 2022. Then, he explained that the date had been postponed to September 2022. He denies the claim saying, “We have never said that Jesus Christ is coming on any specific dates.”
Of the people freed by the police, 54 were adults, and 23 were children; some were under ten. The police had arrested the two pastors that were behind this ruse. The police are currently investigating claims of an alleged mass kidnapping. Still, no concrete evidence indicates that the pastors had forced or abused the parishioners into staying.
The authorities suspected the church after a mother whose children had disappeared filed a report. She said the church had restricted her daughter from registering for her upcoming exams.
Many other locals were also disturbed by the nuisance caused by the church that held religious activities throughout the day. Tunde Valentino, who lives nearby the church, said, “They hold services all round the clock, and people rarely sleep when they held their vigils.”
A former churchgoer said that she didn’t believe the pastor as she noted that his preaching was not based on what was written in the Bible.
Police spokesperson Funmilayo Odunlami said, “The assistant pastor said he told them what the Lord told him; that they should obey their parents in the Lord.” She also added that a “family who was also around during the rescue said their daughter, a part 3 student, dropped out of school due to the strange teachings of the pastor and left home in January 2022 to start living in the church.”
Many resisted when the police arrived at the church to rescue the captives. The church members refused to leave the premises and even cursed the concerned parents that came to take their children back home.
The president of a local youth club, Famakinwa Lucaskakaki, said that during interrogation, the church members had willingly “walked into the basement themselves.” He added, “Some of them said they have been there since August; some told us they got there January this year.”
Nigeria is a highly religious country with many religious groups and communities. The leaders of these religious groups, such as pastors involved in the incident, are highly respected and can significantly influence their followers and their lives.