By Sam Eyoboka & Ephraim Oseji
Another lady has come forward with molestation accusations against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA).
The ex-COZA member related her alleged experience to media personality Chude Jideonwo of YNaija.
Social media space was set on fire days following rape allegations by Busola Dakolo, wife of popular musician, Timi Dakolo, against Fatoyinbo and since the news broke, more female members of COZA have been coming forward with alleged claims of harrowing experiences with the pastor who has now stepped down from the pulpit until issues surrounding the allegations against him have been laid to rest.
In the latest interview with Jideonwo, the woman pleaded anonymity while narrating how she paid a usual visit to the man of God’s house to discuss activities relating to the church and what needed to be done.
She alleged that while she was seated on the couch, Fatoyinbo joined her on the sofa and started to touch her inappropriately.
According to her, she kept telling him to stop what he was about to do, but he allegedly remained adamant and told her to relax.
This he allegedly kept saying until he took off her clothes and forcefully had his way with her.
Unlike Mrs Dakolo, who was in her teens when her alleged rape took place, the latest lady, who claimed to be an adult employee of the church, said she did not cry or raise the alarm after the alleged act had been carried out, but Fatoyinbo “became remorseful and started apologizing for his actions, stressing that he never meant to hurt me”.
We advised Fatoyinbo but he won’t listen, says Akin —John
DOCTOR Francis Akin-John is a church growth expert.
He spoke on the Fatoyinbo/Busola Dakolo saga. Asked how he feels when any of his trainees crosses the line, his response was sharp: “It is one thing to teach people and it’s another thing for them to imbibe the teaching.”
He didn’t say whether Fatoyinbo passed through his institute but deplored immorality in the Church.
“Go and investigate. PFN Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria) in Ilorin, Kwara State allegedly suspended him for whatever offence when he was there and he went to Abuja”, Akin-George said.
“We advised him but he won’t listen. If you want to know more about him, call someone like Pastor Matthew Ashimolowo who is his spiritual father.
“If he was advised that he should step down from the pulpit, he should beg Mrs Dakolo….it’s not easy for a married woman with kids to come out like that. The husband really encouraged her which shows he is a good Christian.
“Fatoyinbo should be reported to the police and they should investigate, not only that girl (Busola Dakolo), but also others making allegations”.
Asked what he thinks the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) can do in a matter like this, the church growth expert said, “There’s nothing CAN can do. CAN is just like an intermediary between government and churches. They can’t dabble into individual churches ‘wahala’. I think PFN is in a better position to do something about that if he’s a member. “But the person that can take a step is the person he submits to, his spiritual father, that’s the one that should have waded into the matter”.
Head of Media and Communications at Methodist Church Nigeria, Rev. Dapo Daramola, who claimed to be a friend of Fatoyinbo from their school days, also spoke to Sunday Vanguard.
Still finding it difficult to believe that the COZA pastor can rape any woman, Daramola argued: “We know that we live in a world that is challenged, a world where temptation reigns, we need to be very careful. I think what usually happens is that a lot of people accept the calling or embrace ministry without being fully aware of the responsibilities it confers on us. We often underestimate the temptations we face as ministers as a result of exposure to various beautiful damsels. As ministers, we are passionate about the things of God, we want to serve God in the best way we can, but I think we don’t understand the measure and the depths of situations like that so when we come in and those things throw themselves at us, we are not prepared to deal with them and then we feel that grace will abound.
“Did we give our lives to Jesus genuinely? Yes, we did. Did we face challenges that tested our faith? Yes, we did. Was Abiodun Fatoyinbo starting a church because he wanted money? No, because the parents were well to do; in fact, his father till he died was a chieftain of the PDP and was even given an honour by our church. It wasn’t money. I have always been Orthodox in Christ. I know when he started; I know how many times we did 40 and 70 days of prayer and fasting. We were serious Christians.
“We didn’t start up like bread and butter Christians. We knew that we were vulnerable to other fraternities who couldn’t do anything to us because they knew that we were Black Axe, but because we were now alone, there was no shield. “Black Axe was not going to fight on our behalf or defend us, so we, more or less, risked our lives to serve God. We knew where we were coming from.
“Can a man fall into temptation as he grows in faith? Yes! It’s very much possible. I want to believe that so far something like that happened to him along the way. It’s not everybody who can control startups.
“Today he’s one of the biggest new generation pastors in Nigeria. He has money running into billions; it’s not everybody who can control such. A man at that level is susceptible to many things. “He’s young and handsome and charismatic and articulate, the devil will always want to bring temptations. I find myself in situations like that too, now that my wife is dead, I know what I’m contending with.
“For me, it’s unfortunate for somebody like him who knows where we are coming from, who knows the kind of storms we have weathered. When things like this happen, people don’t remember where you are coming from; they judge you based on the present.
“I’m a journalist, the interview with the woman was one side that all we want to do here is to listen to your story, tell it in any way you want to tell it, we already empathize with it.
“There were no follow-up questions. For me, based on my journalistic instinct, I believe there’s a lesson to be learnt, and whatever the lesson that is there, I hope he learns it.
“When things like this happen to us, sometimes God has been trying to draw our attention to something and we are not listening. I can remember in my own case, I was arrested by the police for an offence not as worse than others I’ve done before. I was trailed from Lekki and got arrested.
“For this minister, I believe God is using this process to talk to him on something and I think it’s beyond all of these things we are even looking at. I think if he does a proper soul-searching, he will come to terms with what it is”.
Asked where he thought Fatoyinbo got it wrong, the Methodist priest said, “For you to be a Christian, it means you must recognize that you have certain challenges which need to be deliberately worked upon. We take grace for granted, we misuse grace for liberty and for unending license to misbehave. It was self-indulging.
“I feel he indulged himself. I was drinking when I gave my life to Jesus; I was still smoking in the first few months after I was born again. Secretly I’d go and smoke.
“I wasn’t drinking but I was still smoking. I knew I could stop drinking but couldn’t stop smoking. I knew that smoking was way out of line for a Christian so I had to stop smoking and the only way to stop smoking was for me to stop drinking. That was what I did. My wife didn’t meet me drinking.
“I know ministers even in the Methodist Church who were smoking then. Where he is today, I don’t think he envisaged he would get to that position, so he wasn’t prepared in many forms. In his unpreparedness, that didn’t allow him to consciously deal with the problem that he knew he had and before he knew what was happening, it had swallowed him.
“For me, it is self-indulgence, something that you know you ought to deal with but you refused to deal with it because you feel that grace will be sufficient”.
On whether the COZA pastor’s mentors should have done something about his “self-indulgence”, Daramola said, “If I don’t open up to you about some things, you’ll just see me as a nice pastor or reverend. I think he never saw it as a problem he needed to deal with. When we were young Christians in my former church, before I became a reverend, there’s this friend of mine who currently works in the bank. We called ourselves pastors then, using that to console ourselves. He had a problem with masturbation, he often talked to me about it and we began to pray about it and tried to seek ways of dealing with it, we did deliverance for him. “The point is, there was a deliberate effort; he saw it as a problem and needed to deal with it.
“In his case, did he see it as a problem that he needed to deal with? What was his perception of the matter? If he didn’t see it as an issue he needed to deal with, he won’t even open up to anybody, not to talk of his mentors. Maybe that was why God helped him to blow it out because you will then see the potential of that thing destroying you.
“It happened to David that he could get any woman he wanted yet he had to kill for another man’s wife. As men of God, we owe it to ourselves and to God and to the people we pastor to identify our weaknesses. We feel settled because we pray and God answers, we counsel and people feel relieved”.
Asked what he will tell Fatoyinbo if he sees him now, Daramola replied, “I know his life is a testimony, so I am not doubting his calling; what I need to let him know is that he needs to recognize his weakness and sincerely deal with it. “Does it mean that if he goes away for some time and comes back, the same problem cannot come to haunt him? It can come back.
“If I’m not careful, I can go back to smoking. You are never free of such situations; that’s why the Bible says we should constantly watch, we cannot afford to slumber for a moment.
“The devil goes to and fro looking for whom to devour. He needs to stay on his toes as a man of God. He needs to free himself of a lot of baggage that comes with popularity, money.
“David says ‘give me that I will not lack so that lack will not lead me into sin’. He said ‘God, don’t also give me too much’. It tells you that as men of God, we cannot live expensive lives, it exposes it.
“You can’t make an excuse for living expensively because, in the first place, there’s so much poverty around us, we can afford to be comfortable, but we can’t be expensive.
“The Bible says let he that thinks he’s standing to take heed lest he falls. Many of our men of God believe they are standing so much and that they can never fall; so they expose themselves to so much that they can handle, so much money in your bank account thinking you must spend the way the money comes not knowing that the reason for having that money is to be able to spread the joy of the gospel of Christ.
“There’s a lot being demanded of us which many people are missing the point and I hope that in this process, he needs to know that”.
Rape saga has tainted ministers of the gospel integrity —Ighele
General Superintendent, Holy Spirit Mission, Bishop Charles Ighele, on his part, contended that a lot of things are happening in Nigeria and Nigerians need to know the feelings of key ministers in the land on certain issues.
“We need to look at the allegations of rape concerning Fatoyinbo, holistically, because it has rubbed off on the integrity of the ministers of the gospel”, Ighele said. “Before the matter of rape came up, issues have been on ground about so many men of God at different levels and this came like a tornado.
“We need to look at this issue so that we can get more educated, more informed and know how to handle such issues in future.
“When allegations multiply, it becomes a source of concern. I am not saying a hundred people cannot plan a lie. When such allegations are following a pattern, they are doing injury to the Body of Christ. “Such allegations need to be looked into and the person involved needs to be called to question so that senior ministers understand what is happening in his life and not just about him releasing a press statement.
“As a marriage and family minister, I perceive that there is a conspiracy of silence from the Christian body but in all honesty there is none. To cover that loophole, I speak to let people know there is no conspiracy of silence.
“What happened is highly condemnable. And there is no man of God that I know who is happy with this and none of them is ready to tolerate such issues of rape within the Church.
“No minister that I know would say ‘let us pray about this matter and then forget about it’. If the allegations against the Senior Pastor of COZA are found to be true, then justice has to be done. Rape on its own is bad and for it to supposedly happen in the Church leaves a bad impression”.