BY SIMON REEF MUSA
For the Founder of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Abiodun Fatoyinbo, who recently stepped down due to the weight of accusation of rape against him by Mrs Busola Dakolo, these certainly are not good times. His resolve to step down as Senior Pastor of the church followed demonstration of angst by rights groups that stormed COZA premises to protest against the alleged sexual violence committed 20 years ago.
This is not the first time a Nigerian preacher is being accused of preying on church members for sexual gratifications. Some of the men of God before now were victims of such allegations. Both Prophet TB Joshua and Apostle Suleiman were subjected to accusations from women. After a careful examination of the claims, it was discovered that all the allegations were inspired from the pit of hell with one of the accusers pleading forgiveness from Suleiman. There is no doubt that the accusation against Fatoyinbo is grave, but many wondered why it took about two decades for the wife of the Nigerian musician to summon courage to unearth the alleged dark details of an unsavory past that can’t stand the floodlights of legal interrogations. The motive behind the accusations seems suspect and clearly demonstrated that Mrs Dakolo’s claim could have been a ploy to introduce the wildcats in the company of doves.
I have not met the two people involved in the matter, but I have taken time to watch and keenly listen to interviews granted by Dakolo’s wife. In response to the accusation, Fatoyinbo has debunked the claim, saying he never raped anyone even when he was an unbeliever. The protests by various groups over the alleged rape is only aimed at excoriating and overthrowing the COZA Founder from his Olympian height of ecclesiastical superiority. Nothing less, nothing more.
The flamboyant preacher whom many refer to as the Gucci Pastor due to his trendy fashion wears has continued to remain a topic of hot debate since the wife of Nigerian soul singer, Timi Dakolo, “spilled the beans.” The accusation has elicited spontaneous reaction from members of the public, with others swearing that respite cannot come to the church founder until justice is done. Driven by the irresistible urge to ensure justice for Mrs Dakolo, her sympathisers have blocked their ears to any form of reasoning. All they seek is the outright instant justice without listening to his own side. But what can a man say when a woman has accused him of preying on her sexually? The circumstances of the confession done within the precincts of a church was well rehearsed. The victim painted a picture of helplessness against her alleged predator whom she took for a father. It is strange to note that even when the first case of rape took place in her home as she claimed, Mrs Dakolo was still incapable of avoiding yet another scene that led to a repeat of the incident. Beyond the smokes of sentiments, it is clear that the rape allegation cannot stand. Considering the missing gaps in Mrs Dakolo’s narration, it may take more than serious efforts to make the accusation survive the rigours of intense probe.
Prelate of the Methodist Church in Nigeria, Most Rev Sunday Uche, is among those who see Mrs Dakolo’s rape claim as false. Even if it is true, the religious leader added, he is lost on what she intends to achieve, knowing that Christianity is all about forgiveness. Why open a can of worms when the offence allegedly took place 20 years ago? The intervention of the former Minister of Aviation, Chef Femi Fani-Kayode, on the matter raised serious doubts about the entire narration and exposed the level women can go to diminish and destroy men. The former minister said he suffered similar accusations in the past, and called on Nigerians not to be hasty in arriving at conclusions on the matter.
For those baying for Fatoyinbo’s blood, nothing less than being thrown into a basket of infamy is enough. Apart from recalling his alleged past life as a university student, critics of the pastor seem to forget that there exists a past for every saint, just as every sinner has a future. Funny enough, lesbians and homosexuals have joined in the condemnation of the COZA Founder, with veiled collaboration with forces working in unison to pull down Fatoyinbo from his platform of excellence. The plot to pull down the preacher did not start today; it has a long history enmeshed in envy and show of supremacy among some Pentecostal pastors in the country. Also, I have been reliably informed that some operatives of one of the anti-graft agencies, recently stormed the church premises to scan through the financial records with the hope of ascertaining alleged financial misdemeanors. That the senior pastor was neither arrested nor arraigned by the agency clearly shows that he was above board.
One key feature of the Pentecostal movement in Nigeria is squabbling among preachers and show of supremacy. Though with the exception of a few of them, the Pentecostal churches have never been devoid of envious moments hinged on the show of influence and power. While it may be too obvious that certain pastors of some leading churches in the country may not be happy with the Kwara-born Gucci Pastor over his successful hosting of a famous American preacher for a programme last year, his determination to repeat the same feat this year seems threatening, and something had to be done to desperately stop him. Could the rape allegation a plot to stop the programme as it eventually turned out?
There are many issues that portend to a hidden motive of those opposed to the COZA senior pastor. How could one justify the staging of protest along the road leading to the church, instead of heading to the police and relevant agencies to have Fatoyinbo prosecuted? If the Senior Pastor had sinned, was it appropriate to disorganise members who had turned up for Sunday services? Who decides the case of rape? The police or mob? Why did the lady wait too long to report the case? What is her motive(s) in exhuming an offence committed in the past when she was a teenager? If the COZA Founding Pastor was not popular, would Mrs Dakolo be inclined to unleash on the society such a salacious story?
With no any other evidence to prove claim of rape against Fatoyinbo, other than the words of Mrs Dakolo, sentiments are allowed to hold sway in order to destroy the church. Arising from the failure to adopt an effective means to probing the allegations, the prospects of resolving the rape claim has remained dim, with all forms of blackmail and negative profiling taking centre stages. I abhor rape and will advocate for outright death sentence for those who commit them.
But can we wait and allow a needless controversy drag for too long without finding answers to the rape puzzle? When has the media and organisations been turned into vanguards in determining rape cases without relevant experts? For now, there are no facts to sustain Mrs Dakolo’s fairy tale. The best option now is for the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) to throw out the case for lack of merit. Mrs Dakolo’s rape claim should be discountenanced because it is a needless controversy unleashed for total destruction.