A BBC Africa Eye documentary has sparked a division of opinions among Nigerians following its exposed documentary on the late renowned Nigerian pastor, Temitope Joshua widely known as T.B. Joshua. The documentary, released on Monday, has generated diverse reactions as it delves into serious allegations against the deceased pastor.
The 150-minute video titled “Disciples: the cult of T B Joshua”, presented in three episodes, features first-hand accounts from numerous witnesses, shedding light on accusations of sexual assault, physical abuse, fabricated miracles, and alleged trauma inflicted by the late Nigerian pastor.
Conducted over two years, the investigative piece incorporates the accounts of over 25 individuals, providing a comprehensive exploration of the controversies surrounding T.B. Joshua, who passed away on 5 June 2021 at 57.
After the documentary’s release, a wave of opinions has surged across the internet, with many Nigerians taking various stands on the controversy. Notable figures, including politicians like Dele Momodu and Femi Fani-Kayode, have also shared their views on the unfolding situation.
T.B. Joshua, a highly influential religious figure and one of Africa’s wealthiest pastors, enjoyed widespread acclaim during his lifetime as the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos.
During his lifetime, the acclaimed prophet amassed considerable wealth and influence. In 2011, Forbes named him one of the richest pastor in Africa. The late preacher had hosted numerous African leaders, celebrities, footballers, and ordinary Nigerians, all seeking miracles and prophecies, as he was renowned for his ability to predict the future and ‘cast out demons’ even with a single sentence.
After T.B. Joshua’s death, his wife, Evelyn, assumed church leadership amid reported tensions with the church elders.
However, it is not the first time the late pastor would make the headlines for the wrong reasons. During his lifetime, T.B. Joshua was known for several controversies; even in death, the lead pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nation, SCOAN, is housing even more controversies.
In 2018, a former disciple of the acclaimed prophet, Bisola Johnson, wrote a book – (The T.B Joshua I Know – Deception of the Age Unmasked). He also granted several interviews where he accused T.B. Joshua of sexual slavery and sundry allegations, including manipulation, diabolism, deceit, and contrived miracles.
Late broadcaster and investigative journalist Kola Olawuyi, in the late 1990s, ran a series on his ‘Nkan Mbe’ radio programme, where he spoke to several former backroom staff and members of the SCOAN who revealed all manners of alleged atrocities, including occultism at the church.
The scandals even trailed T.B. Joshua beyond the borders of the country; the Cameroonian government placed a ban on his church in the country in 2012, describing him as “diabolical” in a statement titled “The Devil in the House”.
Without a doubt, the biggest scandal that trailed T.B. Joshua was on 12 September 2014, when a refurbished guesthouse within his church collapsed, killing 116 people, most of them South Africans, who travelled to the Ikotun-Egbe headquarters of his church for pilgrimage.
Though T.B Joshua suggested that the collapse was caused by an explosion from a bomb purportedly planted by Boko Haram terrorists (the church also indicated that a low-flying aircraft which flew past the church premises moments before the building collapsed might have been responsible), officials of the Lagos State building regulatory agency stated that the church did not seek requisite approval before adding more floors on the collapsed guesthouse.
It was also reported that T.B Joshua bribed journalists N50,000 each to compromise their reports on the church collapse, except for Nicholas Ibekwe, a PREMIUM TIMES journalist at the time, who turned down the offer.
BBC’s Monday report reveals that no fewer than 25 individuals have provided firsthand accounts encompassing allegations of sexual assault, physical abuse, fabricated miracles, and trauma purportedly inflicted by T.B. Joshua. Renowned for his m healing miracles that addressed a spectrum of ailments, from cancer to blindness, Joshua garnered global attention in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The BBC, in collaboration with Open Democracy, conducted a two-year investigation involving over 15 journalists across three continents. The inquiry focused on allegations ranging from sexual assault and physical abuse to fake miracles and solitary confinement.
The report disclosed that former insiders estimated Joshua’s earnings in the tens of millions of dollars through pilgrimages, fundraising, video sales, and international stadium appearances.
The investigation unveiled testimonies from over 25 eyewitnesses and alleged victims in the UK, Nigeria, Ghana, the US, South Africa, and Germany, detailing experiences inside Joshua’s compound as recent as 2019.
One survivor, Rae, a former disciple, shared her harrowing experience of psychological trauma lasting two years, during which she attempted suicide multiple times.
Victims reported frequent incidents of abuse, with some enduring violent rapes, often in silence due to fear and a culture of writing on fellow disciples.
Despite the philanthropic image that attracted many followers, the investigation uncovered a dark side that involved manipulation, abuse, and exploitation.
Rae, who joined Joshua’s compound seeking a “cure” for her sexual orientation, expressed disappointment that Joshua did not face justice for the alleged atrocities before his death.
The investigation also shed light on Joshua’s tactics of using Western followers to enhance his image, noting that church groups in England funded pilgrims to witness his miracles.
Former disciples recounted instances of rape, forced abortions, and the orchestrated faking of miracles within the church. The SCOAN is yet to release any statement debunking the claims and allegations made in the documentary.
The BBC contacted the Synagogue Church of All Nations for comment, but they did not respond to the specific allegations, reiterating that previous claims against Joshua were unsubstantiated.
However, there are old videos of T.B Joshua where he predicted that some of his followers, whom he called ‘Disciples’, would betray him. The video surfaced on social media shortly after the BBC’s documentary went viral.
As mixed reactions continue to trail the BBC’s documentary, some notable Nigerians have shown their unwavering support for the late clergyman and his church.
Reacting to the documentary, former Minister of Aviation Femi Fani-Kayode, an avid supporter and friend of T.B Joshua, said that no man or institution can destroy it with dirty lies, not even the BBC.
He made this known in a recent post on his X account. He wrote, “So true! You touched many lives, fought a good fight, stood till the end and established a significant and enduring legacy. No man or institution can destroy it with dirty lies, not even the BBC! Continue to rest in peace, brother and thanks for blessing the Church, the Christian faith, humanity and our beloved nation, Nigeria. We are and shall always be very proud of you.”
In an interview with this newspaper, shortly after T.B Joshua died in 2021, Mr Fani-Kayode described the late clergyman as his friend and brother, whom many Nigerian pastors hate. Another Nigerian public figure who has also made a strong stance for the deceased televangelist is a Nigerian journalist and publisher of Ovation International Magazine, Dele Momodu who has said that the documentary was a free advertisement.
Like FFK, Dele Momodu took to X account to write; “free advert; prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, in his lifetime, suffered loads of attacks. And even after his death, he continues to generate controversies. Unfortunately, he is not here to defend himself.”
However, not just Mr Fani-Kayode and Mr Momodu, Nigerians all over social media have also shared their opinions on the recent controversy surrounding the deceased preacher.
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