Fifteen inmates, who were chained in a prayer house in the Isheri Oshun area of the state, were rescued by the Lagos State Police Command on Thursday, October 31.
Joseph Ojo, the pastor of the prayer house known as Blessing of Goodness Healing Church, was arrested alongside 10 others for allegedly using his church as a detention centre for sick people.
When questioned, Ojo said that the victims were chained because of their condition, adding that their parents brought them to the church for healing.
He said, “The people were chained because of their condition. If I did not chain them, they would run. Many of them had put me in trouble in the past and that was why I chained them. When I see that they are healed, I unchain them.
“This is not a psychiatric hospital; all of them came for prayers and they had been taken to different psychiatric hospitals before they were brought to the church for deliverance. I saw the medical papers of some of them and it was when their parents tried conventional medicine and they were not cured that they brought them here.
“We do chain them for around three to four months and it is their families that do feed them; some of their family members come every day; some weekly; and some live with their children in the church. You may think that they are healed; for instance, one of them carried a big stone and wanted to use it to break another person’s head before he was stopped.”
One of the victims, Adewale Adetona, who had been chained for eight months, alleged that he was kidnapped and brought to the church by his family, adding that he was not happy staying in the church.
The Oyo State indigene said, “One early morning, I was kidnapped from where I was sleeping and taken to the church and I was staying there until the police came to rescue everybody from the church. I am not happy staying at the church, because I have my own life to live. I am just here; I can’t live my normal life and do what I want to do.
“There was no negotiation for me to be brought here. There are unstable people in the church, so what am I doing here? I feel embarrassed being chained, but I am happy that we have been rescued; since I got here, they never removed the chains from my legs.”
Adetona’s mother, Monsurat, however, said she took her son to the church for spiritual healing, adding that his behaviour was embarrassing her in public.
“He usually misbehaves and I feel embarrassed about it. I have taken him to hospitals for healing before I heard of the church, where spiritual attacks are sorted out. But, if I told him to follow me there, he would refuse, that was why I forcefully brought him to the church in March this year and I have been seeing some improvement in his condition,” she stated.
Confirming the incident, the Police Public Relations Officer, PPRO, Bala Elkana, said the command had commenced investigation into the case.
Elkana said: “On 30th of October at about 6:10 pm, acting on information from a reliable source, a team of detectives from Isheri Osun Police Station led by the Divisional Police Officer, CSP Chike Ibe, stormed a prayer House used as detention camp at No 26 Alafia Street, Oriofe Ijegun Isheri, where the Prophet, Sunday Joseph Ojo, ‘m’ 58years old and 10 others were arrested.
“15 persons who were chained on the legs were rescued. Some of the victims were said to have spent five years in the detention camp.
“The victims are between ages 19 and 50, males and females. Some of them were brought by their families to seek spiritual help from mental illness and other diseases.
“The Prophet said he has been in the healing ministry since 1986.
“He said he chained them in order to prevent escape.
“We have commenced investigation into the matter.”