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By Kolawole Idris
The Network for Democracy and Development (NDD) has expressed concerns over what it termed ” the illicit practices by certain non-state actors”, including those who hide under the banner of religion, to perpetrate heinous crimes against innocent children and youths.
This is contained in a statement jointly signed by Director of Public Affairs,
Ibrahim Momoh and Director of Media Relations,
Ibrahim Adogo, of the organization.
The statement stated that according to intelligence report “a number of children and youths were rescued from a dungeon in the basement of the Whole Bible Believers Church, in Ondo State by men of the Nigeria Police Force. A total of 77 persons mostly children and youths were rescued from captivity during the operation.
“NDD is worried that, according to the police authorities, security personnel were attacked by one Josiah Peter Asumosa, a Pastor in the church, and other members of the church. We are pleased that no life was lost in the altercation and that all the children and youths were evacuated safely.
“We note that this ugly development seems to follow a pattern as this is coming within a fortnight after a similar rescue operation involving inter-state abduction of 23 children which was perpetrated by the ECWA church in Jos, Plateau State.”
The statement added that “Information released by the police indicated that the children and youths that were rescued from both churches had been incarcerated for several months. In the case of the Ondo incident, for example, a family noted that ‘their daughter, a part three student, dropped out of school due to the strange teachings of the Ondo church pastor and left home in January 2022 to start living in the Church’, the police spokesperson said.
“NDD also notes the lack of remorse by the culprits in both instances who claim that the children and youths were not held against their will even though the evidence point otherwise”.
The group is disturbed by the failure of “critical stakeholders, particularly the Governors of Plateau and Ondo States and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN)” for their silence on the “heinous crimes”.
The group called for a thorough investigation into the circumstances surrounding these abductions and indoctrination of the children and youths as well as the prosecution of those behind the sordid acts.
It also urged security agencies to beam their searchlight on the activities of religious organisations across the country in order to weed out the bad elements who use the cover of religion to wreak havoc on the society.