Some of the victims who were rescued by men of the Ondo State Police Command from the basement of a church in Ondo were still in the custody of the command as they were said to have refused to go back home with their parents.
No fewer than 77 people were found locked in the basement of the church – the Whole Bible Deliverance Church, Ondo, located at Valentino Area of Ondo town, Ondo State. They were rescued on Saturday
The victims had allegedly abandoned their homes while some had disowned their parents for the church, claiming that their parents were not teaching them the way of God. The victims had allegedly been kept in the church for over six months while some of them had abandoned schooling to be inside the church.
The pastor of the church, David Anifowose and his assistant, Peter Josiah, were also arrested by the police.
Speaking with our correspondent on Monday, the state Police Public Relations Officer, Mrs Funmilayo Odunlami, confirmed that some of the victims did not follow their parents home after the police had asked them to go insisting that they would not go until their pastor was released from the detention.
She said, “Some of the parents said if not for what happened, they were not aware that their children have left school while some said they were aware that 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.
“We are trying to work out modalities on what to do to them to get them rehabilitated. We have over 10 who have refused to go home. We even 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.”
The state Commissioner for Women Affairs, Mrs Juliana Osadahun, who visited the police headquarters to see the victims, said, the state government was working towards rehabilitating the victims
“From the ministry, we must do family tracing. We must get some background information on how these children became so hypnotised and got indoctrinated. On those that will be needing rehabilitation, we will have to work legally to take custody of those ones.”
A father of one of the victims, Mr Michael Olorunyomi, who was also at the police command headquarters, Akure, on Monday, confirmed that his 21-year-old daughter, Priscilla, had returned home but she had refused to eat since Saturday in protest against the arrest of the pastor.
He said, “I was a member of that church and I was there for 32 years. Everything about the church changed when Peter Josiah became an assistant pastor in the church. He brought in destructive heresy.
“After they were brought to Akure on Saturday. My daughter was released to me but my daughter said she will not follow me. She said until all those who were arrested are released, she will not follow me. At the end of the day, I overpowered her and took her home.
Since we got home on Saturday night, she has refused to eat up till this moment. She didn’t eat throughout yesterday. I’m seriously bothered because of the situation.”