In the last days, according to the scriptures, many strange things will happen and there shall also arise false prophets. One of such bizarre incidents happened in a supposed place of worship on Thursday, August 24, 2017, at 3, Okon Edak Street, off Atamunu, Calabar.
Two masked men stormed the nearby House No. 8 on the same unpaved street in the wee hours of the night and whisked away little Success Ime for alleged ritual in the makeshift church. And by the time the police from Uwanse Division moved in to rescue the 18-month old girl after they received a distress call, what was left of the girl was her heart in a bag. She had been dismembered for what many alleged was for ritual before the police could rescue her from the church.
When news of the incident spread in the neighbourhood and beyond, an irate mob invaded the church, Royal God's Gospel Ministries, and demolished it.
Meanwhile, general overseer of the church, identified as Pastor Tony Obo Ekpe, was also said to be the pastor of God's Commandment Ministry (aka Obot Uboho), also in Calabar. Both churches were said to be neck deep in ritual practices.
When TNN visited the scene of the incident on Friday afternoon, the entire stretch of Okon Edak Street as well as the demolished church was taken over by a large crowd. As other curious onlookers were leaving, more were pouring into the street and the demolished church to catch a glimpse of what left of the church. Virtually everyone was discussing the incident mainly in Efik language.
Torn Efik and English Bibles, passport photographs of worshipers, shards of broken bottle littered the premises of the demolished church which adjoins an L-shaped bungalow. Behind the demolished church is a detached toilet that was, however, left standing by the mob.
There was a hole where the altar was erected. Fetish objects were said to have been dug out from the hole.
In front of the church was a heap of ashes people said were burnt effigies and other fetish objects allegedly brought out from the church after the police had earlier taken some of the objects away as exhibits.
Among the milling crowd was a police sergeant bearing the name Usang Usang on his name tag. He came to the scene in company of two Green Sheriff officials. They left after walking around briefly and speaking to no one in particular. He declined to comment.
An eyewitness told our correspondent that he saw when the police from Uwanse Police Division storm the church on Thursday and made some arrests. He said he saw all kinds of objects, including female underwear being taken out of the church. He said he quickly posted his observation on the internet.
Among those arrested was the general overseer of the church and a suspect simply called Okon, who alleged he was sent by the general overseer to kidnap the 18-month old girl.
Fetish items the police reportedly took away from the church were dead chickens, male and female effigies, goat heads, wooden boat, and many more.
Earlier, the grandmother of the victim, Mrs. Arit Ime, had narrated how the sordid incident happened.
According to the woman, they were sleeping when at about 3a.m. on Thursday, two men who wore masks, broke into their apartment.
“They told us to lie face down or we will be shot. Initially, we thought they were robbers not knowing that they came for my little girl, Success, who was just one year and six months old.
“They took off with her, after which we raised the alarm. In the process, some of our neighbours made phone calls to the police and one of them was apprehended,” she narrated. She strongly believed that little Success had been murdered for ritual.
Various police sources confirmed the incident and said six persons along with the general overseer are in their custody and that various fetish items, including a human heart in a bag with a photograph of a lady, effigies and other fetish objects were exhumed from the altar were recovered as exhibits.
The state police command public relations officer, Irene Ugbo, also confirmed the incident and subsequent arrest of the seven suspects, adding that the incident would be treated as murder case.
According to her, “Seven persons, including one Reverend, have been arrested in connection with the incident. We discovered a shrine in the church as well as other fetish items, including a fresh human heart, believed to be that of a child. Investigation is on-going.”