By Adesoji Adebimpe
When the police finally intervened in the rape allegation levelled against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, COZA, by Bisola Dakolo, wife of popular musician, Timi Dakolo, they made it clear that the intervention must not be misconstrued.
The attention of the police had been drawn by Aisha Buhari, the wife of the President, when she commented on a tweet by Timi. She further called on the Inspector General of Police to act. Timi, in his tweet, had raised the alarm that armed security operatives had besieged his house in Lagos.
But the police said they only served official invitation letters to Busola and Timi. They also maintained that the invitation letters were no warrants of arrest. Not a few were shocked by the alarm raised against the police who were only doing their job.
And while the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) refuses to condemn Fatoyinbo until the allegation was proved, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has declared that the embattled pastor is not one of its members. The PFN even took an overtly shocking partisan posture when it condemned Fatoyinbo and sympathized with the purported victim in a case that is mere allegation and still under police investigation. This is why some observers are suspecting a foul play.
Members of the COZA congregation are, however, unconvinced of the culpability of their pastor. It would appear like the PFN is overtly against Fatoyinbo even as some of its members have been alleged to engage in massive mobilization to lure a large chunk of COZA members away. Maybe Fatoyinbo’s large followership and affluence bothers them up to boiling point.
Why Busola decided to first report to the media before proceeding to file an official report to the police is surprising. It has been alleged in some quarters that the couple may be bent on frustrating a full scale police investigation into the matter possibly because they lack significant evidence to nail the pastor of rape.
The mother of three granted an interview to Chude Jideonwo, a lawyer and journalist, on YNaija, playing out how the Abuja-based cleric allegedly raped her as a teenager. The video evoked anger from Nigerians especially within the Christian community.
However, in his reaction, Fatoyinbo, via a statement on his Instagram page, dismissed the allegation, maintaining that he had never raped a woman all his life. His wife also deserved commendation for standing by her husband and by stepping into his shoes in acting capacity.
If justice must be served, the Dakolos must prove beyond reasonable doubt that Fatoyinbo raped Bisola. With her official complaint made, investigation into the case has commenced. But again, it must not be subverted.
Men of God must not be brought down without proven allegations. Lest we forget, a Canadian-based Nigerian singer, Stephanie Otobo, recently, took back her allegations against Apostle Johnson Suleiman of the Omega Power Ministries. She had accused the pastor of raping, impregnating and abandoning her.
The story, as expected, went viral. It was reeled out by Mr. Festus Keyamo (SAN), now a minister-in-waiting. He had filed a petition to the IGP, demanding N500 million from Suleiman for damages.
Later, the 23-year-old lady distanced herself from the petition. She also claimed that the man of God was innocent of all the accusations after all.
The Dakolos must submit themselves to police investigation and allow due process. They must not hide behind social media judgement. Judicial process should prevail over social media trial. No one should be condemned without fair hearing otherwise a bad precedent would have been set.
The authorities should ensure that the Church is not pulled down on the altar of unverified accusations. Those calling for the head of the pastor should go back and watch her interview again with scrutiny and pay attention to every detail in it. The pastor may be guilty, but Mrs. Dakolo may have wrongfully accused him.
Another interesting perspective on the matter is the alleged role of some big Pentecostal pastors determined to pull down the COZA pastor simply because they cannot stand his success in ministry. There was specific mention of some pastors in Lagos and Abuja who had allegedly been busy strategizing on how to destroy COZA’s ecclesiastical mission and they were said to have needed to package a big issue to trap Fatoyinbo. The police should dig deep into this claim as well.
Meanwhile, why are some pastors suddenly coming to COZA to get members? Believing that the alleged rape would work against Fatoyinbo and COZA would be no more? We’ve heard of stories about some pastors flying from Lagos to have dinner with some COZA members and telling them to quit their church. Could this have been a mere co- incidence or part of the alleged conspiracy theory against Fatoyinbo?
This sadly reflects the shocking reality pointing at a deep rot in the Church of Christ in Nigeria that Jesus Christ descended from glory to this dark world, laid the foundation and built with His precious blood at Calvary. All the billions of believers around the world today are beneficiaries of that sacrifice, having received the most precious gifts of salvation, faith and grace by the Holy Ghost. So where is the competition coming from?
Surely, it must be from the pit of hell; if not, it is unimaginable for another minister called and anointed of God to undertake His assignment to be involved in plotting the downfall of a younger minister as a result of envy. All these surrounding issues must form part of the police investigation in order not to pull an innocent man down as a result of rape allegation that a section of the public just jumped into a spontaneous conclusion.
- Adebimpe, a public affairs analyst, is based in Abuja