A pastor with the Christ Apostolic Church, Onigbogbo, Atan Ota, Ogun State, Pastor Olusegun Omoniyi, is critically ill after he was allegedly abducted and tortured by some members of the Oodua People’s Congress. It was learnt that 45-year-old Omoniyi had also gone into hiding after he was rescued by policemen from the Sango Area Command. He said he feared for his life as the OPC members had threatened to recapture and kill him.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the OPC members were acting on the instruction of some relatives of Omoniyi’s late wife, Omolade, who had vowed to deal with him over the sickness and subsequent death of the woman. Our correspondent gathered that Omoniyi and his wife married in 1999 and had a set of twins in 2000.
However, the twins were said to have died shortly after they were born. It was learnt that since the death of the children, the couple had not been able to have any child, which resulted in pressures from Omolade’s family. Early 2015, the wife was reported to have left the cleric despite entreaties from church leaders and relatives of the husband.
PUNCH Metro gathered that seven months after separating from the husband, the 42-year-old was attacked by a strange illness. Omoniyi said:
“She had told me that her family members didn’t want her to continue living with me, but I begged her to stay.
“However, sometime in 2015, I went for a church meeting when some of her family members came. They took away her property. Attempts at getting her family members to reconcile us were abortive as they said she had made her choice.
“However, in July 2015, I was told she was sick. On the instruction of the church leadership, I went with some other elders to give her N50,000. But her brother did not allow us to see her, saying I should go alone to see her. We refused.
“On February 6, 2016, while I was leading a church programme around 10am, four men entered the church. Two of them were OPC members and the others – Adebayo and Stephen – were my wife’s relatives. While I was on the altar, the two OPC members said they had come to take me away.
“I told them that I would not follow them since I did not know where they were taking me to. They beat me up and one of them showed me a gun and said if I didn’t cooperate, he would kill me.”
Omoniyi said he was thrown into a car belonging to his wife’s eldest brother, adding that he was blindfolded throughout the journey. The cleric explained that he later found himself in Ijoko, the camp of the OPC, saying the men tortured him before taking him inside a clinic where his wife had been admitted.
“In one of the rooms, I saw my wife on the bed. Her legs were swollen and there was blood all over the place. I asked her why she left the house and what I did wrong
“While talking to her, my in-laws started beating me. I have never suffered such torture. I told my wife right there that God would judge our matter,” he added.
He said he sneaked into the clinic’s toilet where he made a call to a church leader informing him of his location, adding that the latter informed the police who stormed the area and rescued him. It was learnt that Omolade died the following day.
The church leadership was reported to have sent a delegation to condole with the family, and Omoniyi also accompanied the men. It was learnt that the deceased’s family allegedly attacked the group, insisting that Omoniyi must take his wife’s corpse with him.
“To appease them, I told them to find where they would bury her and I would bear part of the cost, but they refused.
“As I was leaving, they blocked the road and said they would burn the two vehicles we took there. The OPC members, who had earlier abducted me, came and dragged me to where the corpse was.
“After beating me again, they put me on the corpse and said I must die with her. They put me in a car with the corpse. I couldn’t recognise anybody until I saw some policemen who rescued me the second time,” he said.
Omoniyi said he was taken to a private hospital, adding that the location was not disclosed to protect his life. He alleged that a top police officer was also backing his in-laws, saying he had gone into hiding for security reasons.
He lamented that his wife’s family had taken away his landed property, adding that his life was in danger. Our correspondent learnt that the matter had already got to the CAC supreme council and the church had not been able to resolve the case as Omolade’s eldest brother was a top pastor in the church.
PUNCH Metro saw petitions addressed to the Inspector-General of Police, Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Zone 2, Ogun State Commissioner of Police, Area Commander, Sango-Ota, Officer-in-charge, Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Abeokuta, among others.
The petitions called for the arrest of Omoniyi’s in-laws and the OPC members for the alleged abduction and torture. Our correspondent was told that nothing had been done on the petitions. A top leader with the CAC, who did not want to be identified, said the case had become critical, appealing to Nigerians to rescue Omoniyi.
When contacted, one of the in-laws, Paul, said the case was a family matter, adding that he could not comment on it. He said:
“I am sorry; I cannot say anything about it. It is a family matter and only the family can talk about it.”
The eldest in the family also declined to speak with our correspondent. The state’s Police Public Relations Officer, Abimbola Oyeyemi, promised to call back after checking with the area command where the case was reported to.