Over hundreds of protesters on Sunday the 30th of June, stormed the headquarters of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), in Abuja to express disapproval against the church’s founder and senior pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo, who allegedly raped Busola Dakolo, celebrity photographer and wife of singer, Timi Dakolo, in her teenage years.
On Friday the 28th of June an emotional gripping tell-all interview by Chude Jideonwo with Busola Dakolo broke the internet. In the video, Busola narrated how she lost her virginity to Fatoyinbo via rape in 1999. She added that the incident since then had exposed her to ridicule and trauma.
Biodun Fatoyinbo, in response to the allegation, released a statement on his Instagram page, debunking every bit of it. He said, “I have never in my life raped anybody, even as an unbeliever, and I am absolutely innocent of this”.
The news since Friday left Nigerians in rage as the allegation against the senior pastor metamorphosed from social media rants to a bandwagon within the church premises.
Around 8 am, the protest began with the backing of #ChurchTooMovement, advocacy against rape. The protesters held placards that had several innuendos written about rape, the church and the senior pastor.
Protesters maintained a high spirit as they chanted aloud repeatedly “no to rape”. They demanded that Fatoyinbo step down as head of COZA and face persecution immediate.
Meanwhile, policemen barricaded the entrance of the church, to avert the protesters from gaining entry.
According to a Right activist, Segun Awosanya, over 30 women are ready to testify in court against the Fatoyinbo.
However, no criminal case has been lodged formally against the Pastor.
The police on Saturday the 29th of June had urged Mrs Busola Dakolo to make a formal complaint to them in order for an investigation to commence. But the lawyers under the aegis of the Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) have demanded that the police without hesitation proceed with the investigation.
The head of COPA, Pelumi Olajengbesi, in a statement dispensed to journalists described the case as grievous, adding that it must not be swept under the carpet.
According to Olajengbesi, no fewer than 24 public interest lawyers and advocates have volunteered to take up the case of Dakolo, at no cost. He said that the decision of the lawyers to take up the matter was because similar allegations have been levelled against the pastor in the past.
“We are mindful that such an allegation had in the past been levelled against the same individual by a plethora of women claiming to have had the misfortune of coming in contact with him.
“Any reasonable individual must deduce that there is, in fact, a dire concern to be put to rest here by laying the whole truth bare through proactive action”. Olajengbesi said.
Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo’s failure both now and in the past to address these allegations and clear the air on his innocence was described by the leader of Copa as an arrogant disregard of public sensitivity and a dare to the general public.
In the same vein, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) reacted, saying that justice must prevail in all rape cases no matter who is involved.
However, CAN President, Rev. Samson Ayokunle, said that CAN have no tangible details on the trending allegations against the founder of COZA, ”We have no details about the matter other than what we are reading and hearing from social media, and this is not reliable and credible evidence”.
He, however, confirmed that the association has reached out to the Christian wing which Fatoyinbo belongs to ascertain the truth of the matter and take necessary actions.
Senior Pastor of Covenant Christian Centre, Pastor Poju Oyemade, took to his Instagram page this morning to react concerning the allegation. He wrote “I immediately contacted the spiritual leader in the Body of Christ I believe Pastor Biodun deferred in authority to, to wade into the issue and bring about a decision.
He informed me of his position. It was that Pst Biodun should first step down from the pulpit indefinitely, suspend 7days of glory and make a public statement”.
Pastor Poju thereafter added that the decision to step down and cancel the 7 days of Glory had been reached.
A statement released by Biodun Fatoyinbo also this morning on his Instagram page, confirms his decision to step down. He wrote, “Drawing from their counsel and that of the leadership of the ‘Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) and owing to my love for God’s work and the sacred honour of my calling, I have decided to take a leave of absence from the pulpit of the church”.
There is no telling whether the Nigeria Police will begin an investigation on the allegations against Fatoyinbo, or if Fatoyinbo, as stated in an earlier released statement, will commence criminal and civil actions against all the parties involved in what he termed false allegations.