Nigeria: Rape Allegation - CAN Declares Support for COZA, Fatoyinbo

Singer Timi Dakolo reacts to police invitation.

The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has declared support for the Common Wealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) and its pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo, amid allegations of rape and sexual assault against him.

The Christian body announced its position on Sunday when its delegation visited the church.

CAN Chairman in the FCT, Samson Jonah, assured the church that CAN was with it and the beleaguered pastor and would continue to stand by them.

The visit of the CAN delegation came less than a month after CAN condemned any case of rape and stressed that justice must prevail in all rape cases.

The Christian body said it had no details on the allegations against Mr Fatoyinbo other than what was on social media, which it described as "not reliable and credible evidence". Also speaking, the CAN Chairman North Central, Israel Akanji, said the association would not ignore what is going on in the church now.

"How can I, and then the FCT Chairman, hear that one church that God has a plan and purpose for is going through this Jerusalem-Jericho road and then we will walk and walk away? We will not do such a thing," he said.

Mr Akanji told the congregation and the pastor that they were not alone and that CAN would continue to support them in prayers.

"The Lord will bring you out even stronger. Our pastor here, by the grace of God., will continue to be the voice of God to proclaim the whole nations of the world the mystery of Jesus Christ", he said.

Background

Mr Fatoyinbo was accused of rape by Busola Dakolo on 28 June in a video interview posted online by the channel, YNaija.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how the video garnered a lot of reactions as Mrs Dakolo is not the first person to accuse Mr Fatoyinbo of sexual assault. Six years ago, Mr Fatoyinbo faced allegations of sexual misconduct and adultery from two women, including Ese Walters.

The interview came after Mrs Dakolo's husband, Timi, called out the pastor over his alleged sexual relationship with female church members, even as he encouraged other victims who have gone through the experience to speak up.

The preacher pushed back against the allegations on 28 June, saying in an official church statement that he had never raped a woman "even as an unbeliever."

He threatened a lawsuit against Mrs Dakolo and others he accused of defaming his character, saying that many of the sexual misconduct claims he had faced over the years had come from scorned women within his ministry.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Fatoyinbo eventually succumbed to pressure to step down from the pulpit in the heat of the allegations.

He announced that he would be "taking a leave of absence from the pulpit of the church" on July 1.

PREMIUM TIMES reported when days after Mrs Dakolo's allegation, another lady claimed that she suffered a similar fate in the hands of the clergyman.

The alleged victim, who asked not to be named, gave a detailed recount of her experience to media personality Chude Jideonwo of Ynaija, in a video. She was also an ex-COZA church member.

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