THE Senior Pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo, on Sunday suspended a 7-day scheduled programme amidst the alleged rape scandal which followed a protest at the church entrances.
The protesters laid siege at the entrances of the church located in Guzape, Abuja and Ikeja, Lagos State to express their grievances, calling for the sack of Fatoyinbo as well as court action. They had placards with inscriptions – “An alleged rapist should have his time in court”, “When, where, why, how doesn’t matter, Take a stand today”, “No to sexual abuse in the church,” among others.
As a result, Fatoyinbo told the church congregation of the new development towards the end of the service stressing that he was never desperate about the popular programme.
Coza Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo advising his church members not to fight with any of the protesters outside the church but He didn’t mention a single thing about the rape matter he is being accused of doing!! And everyone is there hailing him ????????♂️????????♂️ #stepdownpastor #COZA pic.twitter.com/WUkaiHKZko
— Kunta Kunte™ (@Nifemi_99) June 30, 2019
The programme holds every first week of January and the first week of July. The invited speakers, he said won’t have to be subjected to security checks due to the ongoing crisis, thus cancelled.
“Be that as it may because of what is going on, I am not a desperate person to say we must have the programme,” says Fatoyinbo.
“I am a peaceful person. So because of this, we are going to have prayers every day for those who are interested to come but we are not going to have 7 days of Glory…because I don’t want all those kinds of stuff. I know we are prayerful people. I think last month we prayed for a whole month, as we do all the time. Please, let’s be people of peace.”
The clergy has recently been in the news for an alleged rape case, involving Busola Dakolo, a photographer, who is also the wife of a Nigerian artist, Timi Dakolo.
Prominent Nigerians including Former Senior Special Adviser to the President on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora Matters, Abike Dabiri-Erewa and Ex-Director General of the Bureau of Public Service Reform (BPSR), Dr Joe Abah threw their support for Busola, the mother of three.
“It would have taken incredible courage for a public figure, mother and wife IN NIGERIA to come out and do what Busola Dakolo did. Many women may not even tell their husbands and would rather think “Naa. I have too much to lose.” I hope the matter gets to court soon,” Abah stated.
However, Fatoyinbo further told the church that, “If you want to pray with us, you want to come here for the regular 7 days of glory where speakers come…you don’t even want to put your speakers through security check. Apart from the fact that the Lord spoke to me about what is happening, my mentors told me this is what we need to do. We know what we stand for in COZA.
“Also, when you are going out, you will be directed on how to. Please don’t fight anybody. Don’t reply to anybody. You came to worship; you should know better, how many of you have been blessed in COZA?”
“They may say things to you. It doesn’t matter. You have a personal experience of church…so be decent. I want to appeal to those who are in church and will be facing trouble. I don’t want security agencies to handle you roughly and you say its officers. Please behave yourself and make sure everything is in place. The lord is your strength,” he added.
In his reaction, a lawyer, Barrister Pelumi Olajengbesi told The ICIR of why the Nigerian Police Force (NPF) should take up the matter, invite both parties and investigate the allegation.
Olajengbesi noted that though rape cases are always difficult to prove in court, especially when there is no verifiable evidence, the victim could make use of the medical report or police extracts if there was any.
According to the lawyer, who is also the Convener for the Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers, the police are legally responsible to promote law and order.
“Nigerian police cannot wait for the matter but it should do its job by inviting both parties since it has become a national concern,” says Olajengbesi.
“Yes, it is provable in court but it depends on medical pieces of evidence and there must be witnesses. This matter may unravel new things. Rape case is very difficult to prove in court. Sadly, people are not convicted of rape but sexual assaults.”