Ondo State Police Command said a total of 77 people were found locked in the basement of a church; Whole Bible Deliverance Church located at Valentino Area of Ondo town, Ondo State.
The police said that the victims comprised 23 kids and 54 others including teenagers and adults, males and females.
In a viral video, the victims were seen in a patrol vehicle of the police who took them to the police station.
A source said the parents of the victims who were apprehensive about their children abandoning them for the church reported the matter to the police. Some of them alleged that their children were hypnotised.
One of the parents of the rescued victims, Mr Michael Olorunyomi, said that he left the church because of alleged wrong Bible teaching but his child remained there.
He said, “I attended the church before and I left because of the wrong teaching the pastors give the members. The pastors teach the church members on the need to divorce their wives while husbands are to divorce their wives if they want to go to heaven. They turned the children against their parents by teaching them what is not in the Bible.
“When I left the church, my daughter refused to follow me. I made the mistake of leaving her behind. Before I knew what was going on, my daughter who was in 300 level in the university at the time dropped out and camped in the church waiting for the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is because the pastor said that there was nothing again in the world and rapture would come in September this year. They arranged a marriage between my daughter and one of the pastors’ family members. They said nobody should go to work, no school and they must do nothing other than to wait for Christ’s coming in the church.’’
During the parade of the victims and the pastor at the command’s headquarters in Akure, the state capital on Saturday, the state police spokesperson, Mrs Funmilayo Odunlami, said that the command had commenced preliminary investigation into the matter.
She said, “Preliminary investigation is ongoing and further information will be communicated to the public. We urge the good people of Ondo State to be calm as the State Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department have taken over the case.”
The PPRO said the suspects would be charged to court after the completion of the investigation.
Some of the victims who spoke with our correspondent said they were not kidnapped by anybody, adding that it was their own personal conviction to be attending the church without the consent of their parents. They added that they disowned their parents because they were not walking in the way of God.