Security agents, including personnel of Nigerian Army, the police, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, NSCDC yesterday was deployed to halt a protest by a group, under the umbrella of ‘Church Too’ movement who had stormed the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, COZA, church in Abuja to protest the alleged rape of Busola Dakolo, wife of popular soul singer, Timi Dakolo, by the founder and Senior Pastor of the church, Biodun Fatoyinbo.
However, members of the protesting group who bore placards with various anti-rape phrases, also chanted slogans such as: ‘No to Rape!’; ‘Shame on you! ‘O Lord, come down and manifest your justice!’ as worshippers arrived the church for Sunday service met a stiff protocol and security department of the church who formed a huge human shield and prevented the demonstrators from gaining access into the church premises
The Nigerian Army said its men were not deployed to protect anybody or stop the protest but that their presence was informed by the Army’s interdenominational church service across the country.
The groups are demanding that Fatoyinbo should step down, Convener of the movement, Bukky Shonibare, said the alleged reluctance on the part of Christian leaders and church authorities to investigate the allegation of rape against Pastor Fatoyinbo triggered the protest march.
She said: “We are protesting to establish the fact that the church authority must conduct an in-depth investigation into the allegation that has been levelled against Pastor Fatoyinbo by Mrs Dakolo and any other current or former member of COZA. “While that investigation goes on, Pastor Fatoyinbo should step down from office to allow an unbiased investigation.
“We are also demanding that the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, and Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, PFN, take a stand. If they do not have the mandate to regulate these human rights abuses going on in the church, there may be need for Christians in Nigeria to have a new umbrella body to exercise that mandate. “It’s such a shame.
The searchlight has not been beamed on our religious homes. If we don’t have an external body looking into what is going on when an allegation like this comes up, nobody takes it up in partnership with the security agencies to ensure proper investigation and prosecution, if necessary. “We also ask that the continuous harassment and intimidation of Busola and Timi Dakolo and any other rape victim must stop forthwith.”
However, a counter-protest was equally carried out in solidarity with Pastor Fatoyinbo by residents of Guzape, the host community of COZA. Some of the pro-Fatoyinbo protesters bore placards with inscriptions such as: ‘We stand with Biodun Fatoyinbo’, ‘We love Pastor Fatoyinbo’ and so on. Though the simultaneous pro and anti-Fatoyinbo protests created a rowdy atmosphere around the church, a potential clash between members of the two groups was averted by heavily armed and hooded security personnel deployed to the scene by Department of State Services, DSS, the Nigerian Army and the Police.
Meanwhile, Founder and Senior Pastor of COZA, Biodun Fatoyinbo, has cancelled a special programme of the church scheduled to commence today 1st of July 2019. Announcing the cancellation during yesterday’s service in Abuja, Fatoyinbo said God instructed him to put off the programme, tagged: ‘Seven Days of Glory’. He added that his mentors also advised him to do so for them to intervene in the alleged rape scandal. He said the church would proceed on a daily prayer session throughout the month of July in place of the special programme.
He said: “Having you in my life, I am the most blessed pastor in the world. It took me a long time to get here today. I did not like what I saw (protests) today. Some of you came early, this is not what I want to put you through. I will only say something to you, if I was not a pastor of this church, I will be a member. “I have been relating with all my mentors, you know I am a man under authority, I really love to listen to them. So, I am going to be giving a few instructions as time goes on but the first instruction I want to give is, be that as it may with what is going on, I am not a desperate person to say we must have the programme.
I am a peaceful person, you know that. “So, because of this, we are going to be having prayers every day for those who are interested to come. But we are not going to have the ‘Seven days of glory’ because I don’t want all these kinds of stuff. I think last month we prayed for a whole month and we do all of that. Please, let’s be people of peace. “So, if you want to pray with us, you can come here to pray. But the regular seven days…, you don’t want to put your guest speakers through that. You know we love to host people properly; we don’t want to do that. And you know some of them. “Apart from the fact that the Lord spoke to me about that, my mentors said to me, this is what we need to do while we step in and make sure we see what is going on. And you know what we stand for in COZA. So, please let’s obey God and our mentors and be a people of peace.”
He urged his church members to ignore the allegations making rounds and not engage in any argument or fight with anybody. He said: “Also, when you are going out, they are going to direct you how to go out, please don’t fight anybody, don’t reply anybody, you came to worship. They may say things to you, it doesn’t matter. Please, behave yourselves and make sure everything is in place.
“I am the best dressed pastor in town,” he said to a round of applause from the congregation. “But having you, I am the most blessed pastor,” he added, asking his congregation not to be provoked as they make their way out through the people protesting at the church gate. He is Known to be stylish, Fatoyinbo had recently rocked labels like Angelo Galasso, Billionaire Couture, Givenchy, Balenciaga, Prada, Gucci, and Christian Louboutin.