NOAH Abraham, the founder of the Christ High Commission, is keeping about 40 people in his church at the Araromi-Ugbesi in Omuo-Oke, Ekiti State South West, Nigeria in what he describes as preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ, otherwise known as the rapture.
Some of those he keeps have sold their belongings and taken the money to him, hoping Jesus would meet them while camping at his church.
A few others have also abandoned their families who refused to join them to live at the church, the ICIR gathered.
The pastor believes a “mighty palace” will descend from heaven and land on his church, where members would live forever with the “one that sent him.”
Because of the way he camps his church members, some of his members’ relations accuse him of abduction.
On Wednesday, April 27, the ICIR’s reporter visited the church where he was given a tour by Abraham.
The people of Araromi-Ugbesi in Omuo-Oke, Ekiti East Local Government Area of Ekiti State are currently in shock that the community hosts a church allegedly holding people captive.
News had filtered on the social media during the week that the founder of the Christ High Commission Ministry, Noah Abraham, held people captive in his church in preparation for the rapture and that he made them pay N310,000 each.
The pastor, Abraham said he a native of the town. He had run a church in Kabba, Kogi State, in 2009 and another in Kaduna before returning to his hometown.
His church at Omuo-Oke is the only one he claims to now own.
He told The ICIR he had ordered the demolition of the Kaduna church after his assistant laid claim to its ownership.
He believes a mighty palace will soon descend from heaven and land at Araromi-Ugbesi in Omuo-Oke, where he runs his current church.
To this end, he is assembling people from different parts of Nigeria and camping them in preparation for the rapture.
Some of the people at the camp are secondary and university students who have decided not to return to school because they are waiting for the rapture, relatives say.
As of April 26, 38 people, including almost a dozen children, had been with him for weeks.
His wife does not live with him at the church. She stays in Kabba.
But the reporter saw a lady the pastor said was his daughter who assisted him in the church.
How an aggrieved member exposed the church
A former member of the Kaduna chapter of the church had told The ICIR that his wife and children were at the camp without his consent.
He involved the Police at Omuo-Oke to secure the release of his family on a day before the ICIR’s visit.
The man’s wife refused to follow him after staying at
the church with her three children for nearly 20 days. But the man succeeded in taking his three children away.
One of the children attends a private university in Ondo state.
He claimed his children said they were no longer interested in going to school but would wait for rapture at the church.
A man who gave his name as Tobi, told the ICIR he plans to go to Ekiti from Kaduna where he is a resident to attempt to pull out his brother-in-law and his nephew who are in the camp.
He said his brother-in-law sold his belongings and took the money to the pastor.
Tobi explained that his brother-in-law told the wife (Tobi’s sister) that she should forget about the marriage since she refused to follow him. They have been married since 1991. He eventually left for Ekiti with one of his sons abandoning his wife and four children.
The church – Christ High Commission Ministry – is at a remote location, inside a large and fenced building. It is close to the fuel station along the expressway at Araromi-Ugbesi.
The compound has a big gate and about six buildings. There are at least eight palm trees and some mango trees on the premises.
Some of the buildings were unkempt.
There was no signpost inside or outside the premises to show it is a worship centre.
Conducting the reporter around the premises, the pastor, Abraham showed the reporter his kitchen, which had four gas cylinders, many crates of eggs, scores of yams, and bags of grains and other foodstuffs.
There was a local kitchen behind one of the buildings where the occupants used firewoods and big local pots to cook.
The reporter saw a heap of shoes and an area dedicated to charging phones, lamps and other devices in one of the buildings.
The premises have a conference room with about 40 plastic chairs. There was another large room with chairs used for dining. There was also the church’s main auditorium. Besides, the pastor showed the reporter other rooms used for storing belongings. There were some unoccupied buildings.
Everyone at the camp lived in a building
A striking thing about the camp is that all the people, including the pastor, live in a four-bedroom apartment -one of the buildings.
The pastor has his room. The women, men and children have separate rooms.
There are small mattresses, some with torn covers, spread on the floors.
Members declined to speak
When called upon by the reporter to share their experiences at the camp, none of the members showed interest. Only the pastor’s daughter and his assistant agreed to talk.
As the reporter interviewed the pastor, his daughter and other church leaders ushered the members into their rooms.
Who owns the premises?
Findings by our reporter showed that a late Major General, Ogunsakin, who hailed from the community, owned the premises. The late general bought the house from a woman who was a contractor and a public servant.
The woman had built a church on the premises.
Abraham rented a building on the premises when he started his church in the town last year August. He took over the whole place after the occupants of a four-bedroom flat on the premises left in December 2021.
Neighbours express concerns over Abraham’s conduct
The reporter interviewed six neighbours around the camp.
“They always close the gate. You could knock for hours, and nobody will open for you if they don’t know you,” one of the neighbours said.
Another neighbour who pleaded not to be named said she could not understand why many people, mostly teenagers and other younger children, would gather in such a manner.
“They are always inside. You will see the pastor filling his car with foodstuff all the time. There’s a man who brings big cow meat for them every day. I have been wondering the kind of church the place is. After all, we have church around us, and we know how they are open to everybody in our community,” she noted.
A former member of the church called to question the activities of Abraham.
The 55-year-old woman said she left the church after she suspected the pastor’s activities were not in tune with the Bible.
Community monarch in shock, pledges action
Oba Adeyeye Lawrence Ajayi is the Owa Elesi of Araromi-Ugbesi. The monarch said the new Divisional Police Officer (DPO) in the town had just briefed him on the matter shortly before the reporter came in.
He said he became more worried because of the premises that belonged to the late Major General, whom he described as a “very respected son who could lay his life to defend the town.”
He pledged to get to the roots of all that happened in the church.
The king said he was sad because he had just left the meeting of all monarchs in the Ekiti-East Local Government Area, where he could have mentioned the matter if he had been aware.
Omuo-Oke Police DCO says pastor innocent, State Command summons cleric
On Tuesday, the Divisional Crime Officer (DCO) of the Omuo-Oke Divisional Police Headquarters, Joshua Sunday, absolved the pastor of blame.
He said a preliminary investigation showed that he didn’t force anyone to join him at the camp.
He said his Division went to the church with vans and officers with the hope of raiding the camp but did not see anyone chained or stopped from walking freely.
He said there were no grounds for suspicion in the church.
An aggrieved member of the church in Kaduna had reported the pastor to the police division in his bid to bring out his three children and wife from the church.
The DCO was the officer in charge of the case.
But the game changed on Wednesday after the church’s matter went viral on social media.
The Omuo-Oke Divisional Police Headquarters again invited the pastor to provide more information on his activities.
The Division sent the DCO and one other officer back to the church for further investigation.
The Ekiti State Police Command in Ado Ekiti also invited Abraham for interrogation.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, the state police spokesperson Sunday Abutu said the command invited the pastor to clarify the allegations against him.
Heaven is coming down to Omuo-Oke – Abraham
“When you hear that a whole city descends from heaven and a mighty palace appears in Nigeria here in Ekiti, know that the man speaking here is the one to be contacted because the whole world will hear.”
These were the words of pastor Abraham while addressing our reporter.
He said his mission was to gather people and train them about the rapture.
He denied allegations of kidnapping levelled against him.
He said he handed over the church he started in Kabba and Kaduna State to his subordinates. But the assistants later claimed the church.
The pastor said he ordered the demolition of the church.
He said since he sited his new church in Omuo-Oke, his former members in Kaduna and Kabba had been coming for his programmes.
Because of the increasing population, he said God told him to charge anyone coming to him N310,000, which they must send to his account before they arrive. The money was a sacrifice,’ he stated.
He, however, contradicted his earlier claim that he would not collect a gift from anyone.
Because many people could not afford the money, some jointly got the amount and sent it into his account before coming to him.
Similarly, he said one of his church leaders decided to sell a car he bought for N1.5 million for N700,000 to enable him to come and wait for the rapture.
“He placed his car for sale. He said he bought it for N1.5 million, and they were pricing it at N700,000. He also put his own house on sale. But I said no, you don’t need to sell all those things. What if you come here and don’t like what we are doing here, and you want to go back? Then it will go viral, and people will say pastor Abraham is the one asking people to sell their property?”
When the police accused him of harbouring people on Tuesday, he told them: “don’t you know it is a big responsibility to lead human beings? If you say they are going (to leave my church), it will take responsibilities off my neck.”
He said he mandated the wife of the man who came from Kaduna to go with her husband.
He said no pastor had the right to intrude into any home without the permission of the head of the family.
But the pastor said it was not yet time for the rapture. The people had to wait for it.
The reporter asked him how soon the people in his custody would leave. He said: “It is the one who sent me that will determine.”
He boasted that he had the resources to cater to the people’s needs.
He said he bought N20,000 worth of meat for them daily.
“We are thinking of buying a complete cow if the owner will allow me. “There is no amount that we want to spend here that he is not capable of.”
He, however, said he didn’t have more than N3,000 in his bank account.
The reporter sought to know how he got the money he used to meet the people’s needs. He said: “The God of Isreal is the owner. Is He not the owner of the whole earth? If he moves you to come and give me money because he needs it, you can’t refuse. You will just like me and give me the money and say God sent me to give me this money. That’s all.”
Abraham’s adult daughter Anabel assists him.
Anabel said the church was to help those who were helpless. She said everybody was tired of the state of the nation.
She said she was aware that people say her father kidnapped the people in his custody.
Another leader in the ministry is Peter Bada Akin, the church’s pastor in Kaduna.
He told The ICIR reporter said the people came for a brief programme but expressed shock that people claimed the church’s leaders had kidnapped people in their custody.
He said leaders must face unfavourable allegations to succeed.
According to him, the congregants came from different parts of the nation.
He said the people had been at the camp for many weeks, adding that nobody came to the camp without the consent of their family.