On Sunday, October 15, 2023, investigative journalist SODIQ LAWAL ADEWALE received a phone call as at 5:35pm from Taiwo Adeniran, a senior colleague with Diamond 88.5fm informing him that a pastor at the Christ Apostolic Church’s WOSEM Revival Centre, Oke-Itura, Esa-Okero, Odo-Ese, Ijebu-Ijesa had instructed the family of a 23-year-old lady who had died after a battle with illness to exhume the body because the pastor identified as Isaac Abolarin wants to awaken the dead. This journalist initially felt the call was a joke until they traveled to Ijebu-Ijesa, where the incident actually took place.
This story depicts not only how a 23-year-old Christian woman who was not buried in a casket was unearthed without adequate preparations, but also how a dead body could be exhumed in broad daylight over claims by a pastor that he can revive the dead. It further reveals that a covered corpse has no protection and can be resurrected for any reason by the deceased’s relatives, in violation of the law.
FOR RESURRECTION TO TAKE PLACE, EXHUMATION IS NOT NEEDED
Around 6 o’clock, Mr. Taiwo Adeniran, Mr. Baderinwa, and I pulled over in front of the Police Divisional Headquarters in Ijebu-Ijesa after our contact person had already informed us that the pastor, who was likely in his early 30s, had been detained and arrested by the police. Without the consent of the chief cop in the community, there was no way for us to enter the station or speak with the pastor. We made a call to CSP Bankole Solomon the Divisional Police Officer (DPO) at Ijebu-Ijesa Station, who promptly returned the phone and met us there less than 10 minutes later.
Speaking about the incident, the DPO of Ijebu-Ijesa Station, CSP Bankole Solomon revealed that he had instructed his men to strip the deceased of her clothing so they could photograph her complete body.
“When I heard, I inquired with the pastor as to whether he had ever seen an instance when a dead person that had already been buried in the earth would be exhumed and raised into living. The accusation that you want to use the corpse for ritual purposes can result in your arrest. Your command came from who? The DPO asserted that they had questioned the preacher”.
The DPO claims that if a dead body were to resurrect and resume its life, there wouldn’t be any need to exhume it first. If you prayed for it to happen, the dead would emerge from her graveyard. Is she now awake? The DPO claimed to have asked the pastor.
“What you’ve done has deeper significance. Who has ever perpetrated that? When his son passed away, Pastor Enoch Adeboye did not request that his remains be exhumed. Indirectly, you have reopened the parents’ grieving wounds”.
I’ve given the pastor and church elders the go-ahead to arrange a dignified funeral for the deceased. People will be utterly surprised if they learn about this incident. Did you learn this from your seniors? As he directs a policeman to accompany us to the scene of the event, CSP Bankole Solomon appears worried about the situation.
EXHUMING A DEAD BODY: A CONFUSED PASTOR, TROUBLED FATHER
The reporter’s thoughts were scattered as we made our way to the location of the tragedy. What may have caused a 23-year-old lady who died tragically to be exhumed? This reporter had a flashback to 2003, when a pastor said to the world that he had received a command from God to pray for the deceased Oduology master, Gbenga Adeboye, and exhume his body since he was not yet dead but buried.
A 59-second video showing the graveyard after the body had been exhumed obtained by this reporter
The dead body was later exhumed against strong protest. After more than six hours of prayer, the late veteran broadcaster and comedian Gbenga Adeboye did not return back to life. Police intervened to protect the preacher from the mob. Could this story have inspired the young pastor, who was presumably in his early 30s? The policeman who was supposed to accompany us to the location of the event pointed to a building just across from the area and said, “Just park your car beside this house.”
This reporter learned that the DPO of Ijebu-Ijesa had followed us to the scene of the incident as we got out of the automobile. An older man and a young man in his late 20s who claimed to have seen this reporter at Ayeso Police Command were spotted conversing with the father of the 23-year-old. The DPO invited the deceased’s father to be present and introduced him to reporters.
The father, who introduced himself to reporters as “Jimoh,” claimed that the same God who had given him his daughter had now taken her away.
A 30-second video showing deceased father and mother while leaving the church obtained by this reporter
Mr. Jimoh claims that the dead, who happened to be a mother of one, had been ill since January and that all medical attention or treatment she received had been ineffective because she didn’t recover from her illness till death took her from him.
“Medical professionals urged me to seek spiritual guidance. I visited the Celestial Church of Christ, also known as “Cele” church, where she received spiritual cleansing. Although the war had been won, the evil forces remained strong. They did not allow these men of God’s prayers to be answered. I was told to give her body water intravenously. My two doctors made efforts as well. Despite my best efforts and considerable expense, she passed away. I think God took her from us, not someone who killed her”.
A 59-second video obtained by this reporter showing the deceased 23-year-old lady carefully placed infront of the altar
When questioned about the deceased’s age, the father revealed that daughter passed away at the age of 23. Before getting sick and being unable to work again, she was learning how to braid hair. He revealed further that she had married and finished her secondary education.
Mr. Jimoh revealed that the deceased was sent to General Hospital in Ijebu-Ijesa, including Wesley Guild Hospital, but they were unable to determine the underlying reason of the disease. He was questioned about if she had undergone medical testing to determine the source of her chronic ailment. They suggested I look for spiritual guidance.
The father responded that he has such a strong faith in God and that there is nothing He cannot accomplish when questioned why he exhumed his daughter’s body and brought her body to the church.
The father provided biblical examples of Lazarus rising from the dead, but he also mentioned that he had personally seen something similar happen at Shiloh. However, this reporter’s research showed that the Shiloh had no record of such an incident.
Pastor Isaac Abolarin, according to the parent who claims to have known him for some time, once saved one of his children from sickness.
Did the pastor request that you exhume the body or did you extend the invitation for him to visit and care for your deceased child? The journalist enquired. The father of the deceased said in response that he had invited the pastor to visit and wake up his daughter because he had witnessed the pastor execute comparable miracles at Shiloh and he was confident it would be possible.
The pastor gave it his all. He prayed for over two hours, but the wicked people prevented God from hearing his prayers. Because I cannot watch my baby being dangled around, I have buried her once more. A pretty dejected father said, “I have prayed to God that I will never again use my hands to bury any child.”
He replied emphatically that he did not inform any local authorities or leaders before to his daughter’s exhumation.
“Since everyone already knows she is dead, I wanted it to be a surprise. I didn’t tell any local authorities or leaders. But since he said he had a reason for not raising her from the dead, I have yielded to his will”.
The father further disclosed that his daughter died in his home since her husband abandoned her and their child while asking for assistance for the 2-year-old toddler who lost his mother and does not know where his father is.
They didn’t clash. He simply disappeared. He continued, “We don’t even know if he’s living or dead.
The preacher isn’t there. This journalist enquired. He replied that he ought to be at home or in the church. We made the trek to the pastor’s home, the DPO, myself, and others. Although we did not meet him at home, his wife suggested that he should be in the church. Fortunately, the pastor’s home is only a few meters from the church. The pastor was there when we made the excursion to the church.
WILL THE CHURCH ABANDON THE PASTOR?
The preacher was uncomfortably perched on a plastic chair in front of the church’s altar when this reporter walked in. When this reporter walked up to him, he was sitting down in the pitch black, sweating profusely, and maybe overcome with anxieties. He was dressed in a black shirt with no collar, black pants, and black shoes.
Until another pastor shows up, keep quiet, commands a man, possibly in his early forties, who is thought to be an elder in the church.
Before the aforementioned preacher showed up, we waited for almost 20 minutes. We showed him our identity cards after he asked for them. As the interview was about to begin, the called pastor instructed the other pastor to only say things that would not bring the church into disrepute. This writer had a suspicion that the aforementioned pastor may have received a call from a pastor who was more powerful than him. After another 20 minutes had passed, the priest was forbidden from speaking to reporters. Another preacher asserted that he was forbidden from speaking by the leadership.
The DPO of Ijebu-Ijesa Police Station, CSP Bankole Solomon, informed the crowd that he had been instructed by his superior to bring the pastor to his office.
Mr. Isaac Abolarin, the pastor, was contacted by the reporter once more as he and the DPO were making their way down to the waiting vehicle. He was able to utter a few things before the interview was interrupted by the torrential downpour.
I was summoned by the father of a deceased woman to pray for her recovery after she passed away. While his father went to exhume the body, I began to pray for the departed. They took her body to the church. We prayed. Pastor Abolarin responded as he received another call: “She didn’t wake up and I asked that she be returned to her resting place.”
WE ARE INVESTIGATING THE MATTER, SAYS ELEGBORO OF IJEBU-IJESA
While reacting to the event, Elegboro of Ijebu-Ijesa, Oba Moses Femi Agunsoye II, the kingdom’s paramount monarch, revealed that he is currently away from home but has ordered his chiefs to look into the situation and come back to him.
In a phone chat with this reporter, Oba Agunsoye expressed surprise at the incident. He denounced it and promised to implement some steps after conducting an investigation.
Oba Agunsoye commended the police for their quick action and promised to speak with this reporter again following the chiefs’ probe. He also emphasized that if the police had not handled the issue correctly, it may have led to tension or a crisis.
THERE SHOULD BE LAWS THAT PROTECT EXHUMATION OF DEAD BODIES BY PARENTS
In response to the development, social analyst Adeniyi Olanipekun said that it is shocking that individuals can still exhume bodies because they think anyone can resuscitate it in this day and age.
If it hadn’t been for you, I wouldn’t have taken it seriously. The globe is now interconnected. Only the dead are exhumed for an autopsy to determine the cause of death. Olanipekun continued, “It disturbs me that the church where it is frequently preached that no one can die twice because judgment awaits after death could be found in such situation.
Olanipekun pushed for the police to detain and punish the aforementioned pastor and father in order to act as a deterrent to others while campaigning for laws to prevent deceased bodies from irresponsible exhumation by family members.
The pastor was last seen by this reporter with DPO of Ijebu-Ijesa Police Station CSP Bankole Solomon, who stated he would take the pastor to his superior. This writer is unable to confirm whether the aforementioned pastor was later freed by the DPO following the downpour or was placed in the custody of the Area Commander. However, the public, particularly Ijebu-Ijesa locals, is quite interested in the police’s decision. People are waiting.