From Abel Leonard, Lafia
The Police Command in Nasarawa State has narrated how a cleric, Pastor Life Ibok Ette, Senior Pastor of Sent-Forth Church, Kabayi, Mararaba, Karu Local Government Area of Nasarawa State, fraudulent collected money and items belonging to church members before allegedly kidnapping eight children.
The pastor has since been arrested by police operatives and is currently telling them all he knows about the allegations against him.
The pastor was paraded along other suspects last week at the police headquarters, Shandam Road Lafia, by the Commissioner of Police in the state, Adesina Soyemi.
It was gathered that the suspect ordered a group of four women, who had gone to the church for a worship session, alongside their children, to keep their belongings at one location inside the church and close their eyes for prayers.
Soyemi explained that the women obeyed the instruction and closed their eyes while praying to God. However, upon opening their eyes after the prayers, the worshippers were shocked that their pastor had disappeared. But he did not go alone. The ‘man of God’ actually bolted with the belongings of the worshippers, including eight of their children!
“The Pastor disappeared with their belongings such as mobile phones, ATM cards, international passport, A cash sum of N25,000, and also abducted their children. Names of the abducted children, according to the police, are: Regina Elijah, a girl, Rejoice Daniel, Eunice Gabriel, Eko-Oyo Ileai, Moses Omale, Esther Kwarah, Dorcas Uduak and Mitchele Abeni.
Said the commissioner: “Upon receipt of the complaints, police operatives of the command swung into action. A comprehensive investigation into the case led to the arrest of ‘Pastor’ Life Ibok Ette at Stainless Hotel, Zaki Biam, Benue State on 21/4/2022 where he has gone to conduct a fraudulent crusade to enable him deceive unsuspecting members of the public.
“Consequently, two ATM cards (Ecobank and Access Bank cards), one International passport belonging to one of the complainants and the eight victims earlier abducted were rescued and were reunited with their families/parents.” The police boss said investigations were still
ongoing at the State Criminal Investigation Department, Lafia,” he said.
Reacting to the allegation, in an interview with Saturday Sun, the pastor, Ibok Ette denied the allegations. He explained that in the month of February, some children were given to him by their parents.
“One was my cook and the rest were working with me in church. So I left with them for a crusade in another state and when their parents asked me to return them, I agreed but I never did because I had no transport to take them back until this time when the police got to me. The children came and spoke for themselves. I didn’t kidnap them.”
When the reporter visited the police station where some of the victims were being held, Mr. Daniel, father of Rejoice, one of the abducted girls, was also at the police station to identify his daughter. He stated that the incident took place at Kabayi, a community in Mararaba, adding that the pastor took his daughter, a plasma television and the sum of N60, 000.
Mr. Daniel who is a civil servant and farmer said the pastor has destroyed his family and would not want to return back with the daughter, saying he suspected the girl would be exhibiting abnormal behaviour. He appealed to the police to ask the pastor to remove whatsoever he had implanted inside of the daughter.
He further said many attempts to get his daughter had proved abortive as the pastor had been moving from one state to another using restricted number to call them.
“I have spent a lot of money,” said Mr Daniel. “I was the one that sent transport fare to her from Lagos to come back. I feel my daughter is not okay. This pastor must have done something to her,” he said.
But in a chat with the reporter, Rejoice Daniel said it was her father’s elder sister that handed her over to the pastor. She agreed that she and the others were working for the pastor and that nothing was wrong with her.
Mr Daniel’s elder sister, who did not want her name in print, said she was a member of the pastor’s church. She said she never knew that the pastor was a bad person, noting that she asked her brother’s daughter to work for the pastor in the church, not that she should follow the pastor from one state to the other.
The elderly woman, who eventually signed the bail bond to take back the girl, spoke in Hausa. She expressed disappointment with the pastor, saying: “God will judge him for making us go through all this stress in getting our daughter back. God knows I wanted the best life for my daughter,” she added.
In another twist, Pastor Ibok Ette was also accused of impregnating one of the ladies said to be his secretary. The daughter of the lady was among those he allegedly abducted.
The lady, who did not want her name in print, confirmed that the pastor was responsible for her pregnancy. She said she would not leave the police station until the pastor was released. “It is the will of God. I will wait and see what happens to him. I pray that they release him. If not, who will take care of me and my unborn child,” she said.
Regina Elijah, another girl who also spoke with our correspondent, said she was a worker in the church and was asked by the pastor to follow him for a crusade but never knew they were going to stay that long.
She alleged that the pastor made them swear to an oath that they would die if they disclosed their whereabouts to anyone.
“The pastor told us to swear with the Bible and pepper, and we did. That’s why we were afraid to speak out about our whereabouts. He said we would die if we disclosed our whereabouts. I am tired of this place. I want to go home,” she said.