“I got my courage from David in the Bible that cared for his people. If you read the book of Samuel, you will see how David would go round and raid and take care of his people and still pay tithe. This is the portion of the Bible that I used to encourage and convince myself. Had it been police did not arrest me I would have felt like David but I thank God that I was arrested because I would have moved from not using weapons to using sophisticated ones.”
Those were the words of Adetokunbo Adelekan, pastor and founder of New Life Light of God Ministry located at Lukosi in Shagamu area of Ogun State. He was arrested, recently by the police for kidnapping.
According to the Force Public Relations officer, DCP Frank Mbah who paraded the suspects before the media, Adelekan was nabbed by detectives attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT) alongside three others identified as Chigozie Williams, Linus Ugorji and Emmanuel Ani while their latest victim, Jonathan Ekpo who was kidnapped on July 17, was rescued from their underground hideout located in the church premises.
The search for 35-year-old Jonathan, a dispatch rider with a logistics company began when the suspects alerted the firm of the kidnap, demanding for a N20 million ransom. The IRT operatives were able to trace the suspects to a church where the pastor led the detectives to an underground hideout constructed to keep victims. The victim was found there tied up.
In tears and begging for a second chance to correct his mistakes, Pastor Adelekan claimed that he landed in trouble due to his desire to be seen as a man who can feed the poor consistently. According to him, “I am 53 and from Ijebu Ife in Ogun state. I am happily married with three young children. I grew up in a broken home and my mother who is not Nigerian took me away from my dad. I grew up outside Nigeria before I returned in 2004 and was reunited with my father and his family. It was while I was away that I learnt a little thing about medicine because I served with the Red Cross during the Liberian war. Upon my return, I established a school and also acquired this land, which I planned to use to build a church. That dream materialized in 2017. But before then, every celebration, I will organize a carnival for the children and even adults free of charge.
“Unfortunately, the land grabbers who could not take my land from me attacked me and I nearly died in the process. This was why I constructed an underground house. Anytime there is an attack we will rush in there.
“During the recent lockdown, there was so much hunger in the land and I started feeding people every day. Most of my members lost their jobs, so I was no longer getting support from the church. I still continued feeding them till I ran out of money and the Ileya (sallah) feast was around the corner. A lot of Muslims who benefited from us were seriously expectant and I did not want to disappoint them. It was then that I remembered how David in the Bible survived.”
Narrating how he managed to lure his victim, Pastor Adelekan claimed that he ordered for product online and when the dispatch rider came, they grabbed him. “I knew that the company selling the food supplements is rich, so the plan was to kidnap the dispatch rider till they pay millions as ransom. When we grabbed the man I used Ketamine injection to force him to sleep because he was struggling so much. We called his company and demanded for N1million. We also used his ATM card to withdraw N60, 000 from his account. It was the money that we used to organize free feeding in the church the day police arrested us. They saw everything; I even offered to give them food if they were hungry. It was at the police station that I learnt that his wife had paid N100, 000.” He insisted that the only weapon that he used was a fake one constructed to scare people especially land grabbers. “We don’t use weapons, after the attack on my family; we had to do something to scare people”, he said in tears.
According to the other three suspects, they decided to work with the pastor because he was feeding them after they lost their jobs because of the COVID-19.
The first suspect, Chigozie Williams, a native of Bende in Abia state claimed that he was only given N5000 out of the little money they found in the account of their victim.
According to him, “After my secondary school, I relocated to Lagos to live with three of my siblings who later died during an explosion in the manufacturing company that they were working. I had no other choice but to survive on my own since my father who married four wives never cared for us. I managed to get job with a construction company but after six months we were asked to go home due to the lockdown caused by COVID-19. The little savings I had finished and my friend who was in the same situation introduced me to Pastor Adelekan’s church. He helps the poor by giving them foodstuffs on credit, which you will pay back at the end of the month. I started collecting from him although I knew I had no job till he realized that I cannot pay. He then asked me and two others to start working for him as security men guarding the church. He promised to pay us N18, 000 every month.
“One day, he took us to his underground house and said that we should move his family to that place if there is any attack from the villagers. Few days later, he called us and started preaching. He lamented that things were hard and that he can no longer sustain the feeding of the poor. He told us that he would kidnap the rich and get money from them. I thought he was joking till a dispatch rider came and he ordered us to grab him. We tried grabbing but he was so strong for the three of us. We were still battling to hold him down when pastor injected him and he became quiet. We took him to the underground house ad tied him up. When he woke up, we took his ATM card and withdrew N60, 000. I was given N5000 and we were waiting for ransom when police arrested us.”
The second suspect, Linus Ugorji insists that the pastor is a true man of God who just wanted to raise money to help the poor. “I am a graduate and I was born and brought up in Lagos. All my effort to get a decent job failed and my attempt to join the military also failed because they said that I have a flat foot. I met Chigozie in a construction company that later folded up. It was while we were searching for palliatives that we met the founder of New Life and Light ministry. The pastor gave us cooked food and also foodstuffs to take home. He later selected three of us to work for him as security men.
“One night, he called us that he wants to have a discussion with us. He told us that he wants to collect from the rich and give to the poor. We asked what he meant, he said that we will capture people and collect money from them. On July 17, he told us that a man was coming to drop food supplements for him that we should make sure that we hold the man. We held the man but he was too strong. The pastor injected him and he was unconscious and we tied him up and took him to the underground special guest house. On July 26, police came to the church. On that day which is a Sunday, we did a feast and fed everyone in church. It was the money we got from the man’s account that we used to cook the food. This is the first time I saw him do it. The man is sound spiritually. He used to talk about David, that he is the man after his heart; that David used to go to the camp of the enemies to steal and feed the Israelites”
Freedom at last
Grateful to God for the timely intervention of the police, Jonathan said while he was struggling to free himself from his attackers, he was injected. “They ordered the product online and I was asked to deliver it. When I got to the address, I realized that it does not exist and called the contact person. He told me that they have moved and started directing me. When I got to a church the man asked me to bring it into his office and while I was about to bend down, unzip my bag, three young men grabbed me. I struggled before I felt a sharp pain. By the time I opened my eyes, I was inside a room without window. I was fed three times a day and forced to give them my ATM password. I also contacted my employers and family and they started negotiating with them. Luckily for me police rescued me.”