The 52-year-old Founder and General Overseer of New Life Ministry, Lukosi, in Shagamu Area of Ogun State, Adetokumbo Adenopo, who was arrested for alleged kidnap, has confessed to engaging in the crime in order to raise money for expansion of his church and to assist the less privileged during Eid-el-Kabir Sallah celebrations.
He was arrested with three other members of his gang for kidnapping a 35-year-old man from Benue by the Police Operatives attached to the Intelligence Response Team (IRT).
The Force spokesman, Frank Mba, paraded 35 suspects, including the ‘Pastor’ and his gang members in Abuja, yesterday.
According to Mba: “Notable among the arrests is a criminally minded pastor, Adetokumbo Adenopo, 52 years, Founder and General Overseer of New Life Ministry, Lukosi, in Shagamu Area of Ogun State and three other members of his criminal gang.
“The other members of the gang include Chigozie Williams 22 years, native of Umuahia North, Abia State, Ugoji Linus 30 years, native of Ezinifite in Imo State and Emmanuel Chris Ani, 27 years, native of Aniri in Enugu State, all responsible for the kidnap for ransom of one Jonathan Ekpo, 35 years from Benue State.
“Curiously, the pastor told the Police operatives that he embarked on the crime for the expansion of his church and charity works.
“The victim, an employee of a logistic company was kidnapped on July 17, 2020, while on official duty to deliver goods in Shagamu, Ogun State.
“The victim was kept in an underground cabin inside the Pastor’s church building in Ogijo town, Ogun State, by his abductors who demanded the payment of 20 million naira ransom as condition for his release.
“He was subsequently rescued unhurt nine days after and reunited with his family by the Police”.
Responding to questions from journalists, the suspect claimed that he had been a pastor for the past 23 years, having once been a pastor with Living Faith Church but resigned in 2014 to open his own church.
According to him, he resigned from Living Faith because he was not given the opportunity to do charity work the way he wanted to do.
“In my church, we do this charity in which I share food and palliatives to people and it became stronger during the COVID-19 lockdown. I feel pity because I don’t have anything in my account to help people with.
“I have this underground house which I dug when I was attacked by armed men some years ago.
“I needed a place of escape in case of any further attack and because of this I have been having some boys around me for security reasons. I designed the underground room and I have used it in few occasions when I was attacked. I dug the underground when I was using the place for my residence, the hall we use as the church now was my parlor.
“Few weeks ago when we were short of funds, the idea of doing something for people during the ileya (sallah) came up (I support any person that comes to me regardless of his/her religion).
“We then decided to find a way of getting money from big companies and then use it to start the project.
“The three of us were involved in the kidnap with the hope of raising fund to begin the project before the sallah.”
Asked how he managed to keep his victim for nine days, the ‘Pastor’ said: “I gave the man injection. The man was struggling when they brought him in and I do not want him to be injured – anything could have happened to him during the struggle. The injection I used was the one I normally use for animals which paralysis them.
“When he told me he was feeling some pain, I bought pain killers for him.”