Thu, 11 Aug 2022

LAGOS, July 3 (Xinhua) -- An investigation is underway into a case of suspected abduction of 77 people by church pastors in Nigeria's southwestern state of Ondo, a police spokesperson said on Sunday.

Ondo police spokesperson Funmilayo Odunlami told reporters in the state capital Akure on Sunday that two pastors were in police custody after 77 people were rescued on Friday night from the church following intelligence report gathered by police.

Some of the victims, mostly children, were found from an underground apartment of the church, Odunlami said.

He said a preliminary probe indicates that the church pastors held their members captive through false teachings and brainwash.

The pastors were said to have told the victims to obey only their "parents in the Lord" and not their biological parents, the police spokesperson said, adding further investigation has begun and the public would be informed of the outcome.

In a statement on Sunday, Peter Hawkins, the UNICEF (the UN International Children's Emergency Fund) Nigeria representative, commended the rescue operation.

"Children should not be targets of violence in whatever guise," said Hawkins, adding a society's health is measured by how it treats its children.

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