A report by New Telegraph indicates that over 100 suspected homeless people have been evacuated from the Redemption Camp on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. According to the report, the evacuation was carried out by policemen and security personnel of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG).
The destitute comprising of couples with their young children, middle-aged men and women as well as the elderly were said to have been dumped at different locations in Abeokuta, the Ogun state capital. It was learnt that policemen and RCCG security personnel raided the worship ground in the early hours of Wednesday, May 22 and apprehended the victims. The security agents were said to have bundled the destitute into waiting vehicles and drove them to Abeokuta under the cover of the night. The sight of the destitute at Oke-Sokori, Kuto and Iyana Mortuary areas of Abeokuta sparked tension among residents.
Rumours that some of the victims might have been used for money rituals also spread like wildfire, even as angry residents rained curses on those responsible for their plight. Some of the destitute, who claimed to have spent between six months and one year at the Redemption Camp, accused the church authorities of victimisation. The victims explained that the RCCG security operatives with policemen indiscriminately rounded them up during vigil service midnight on Tuesday, May 21 and threw them into waiting vehicles which eventually took them to Abeokuta. A 38-year-old businessman, who is one of the victims, Emmanuel Obi, explained that he was at the Redemption Camp for the Holy Ghost Service, where he left his wife and headed to Lagos state to buy some goods. Obi, who hails from Nnewi north local government area of Anambra state, said when he returned, he learnt that his wife and six-month-old baby had been raided and kept in police custody within the camp, hence, his decision to join them. Another victim, Priscilla Okonkwo, said she came to the camp from Ajangbadi in Lagos state because of her accommodation challenges. The 42-year-old native of Abia state, lamented her eviction from the church premises. But when contacted on the telephone, the head of media, RCCG, Pastor Olaitan Olubiyi, absolved the church of any blame. Olubiyi denied the allegation that the church forcibly ejected the destitute from its premises, explaining that what the church did was simply to purge the camp of miscreants and others with criminal tendencies.
His words: “We have a system through which we screen those who genuinely come for prayers. We also have an approved way of taking care of the destitute in the church of God. “Whenever anyone comes for prayer, we do ensure that we properly document their data in our register to prevent criminal situations. But those ones you see illegally found their ways into the church. “Some of them were screened for the purpose of knowing their challenges and those with genuine accommodation problems were assisted. But you will discover that they change their addresses and still return to the church.”