Nigerian police released 77 people who were held in the basement of a church by priests preaching the ascension of Christian believers to heaven with the second coming of Jesus Christ, authorities said Sunday.
Police said the people rescued Friday night from a church in Ondo state included 23 children, some as young as eight.
Locals told The Associated Press that some Bible Believers have been there since last year.
Ondo Fonmilayo Odonlamy, a Nigerian police spokeswoman, said priests at the church, 75 kilometers from the capital, urged parishioners to stay put and wait for the unprecedented ecstasy.
She added that two priests were in custody, although investigators found no evidence that church members were mistreated or forced to stay in the basement.
According to a Nigerian police spokesman, the priest’s assistant said he told them what the Lord had told him.
Nigeria is a deeply religious country and its religious leaders are revered.