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TB Joshua raped, tortured members – BBC investigation

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No fewer than 25 persons have given eyewitness accounts bordering on allegations of sexual assault, physical abuse, faked miracles and trauma -allegedly suffered in the hands of a late Nigerian pastor, Temitope Joshua, aka TB Joshua, BBC reports Monday.

Joshua, one of Africa’s most influential religious leaders and richest pastors, had the world at his feet during his lifetime.

He was the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, a 12-storey building, situated in the Ikotun area of Lagos State, where he lived alongside many of his followers.

Joshua was popular for his miracles – which ‘delivered’ people – followers and visitors – of any ailment, ranging from cancer and HIV/AIDS to chronic migraines and blindness.

The healings performed by Joshua caught the attention of a far-reaching global audience among evangelical churches throughout Europe and Africa in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Many of his followers were drawn by his philanthropy, but most came for his so-called miracles.

Report has it that the clergy, born in 1963, died on Saturday, June 5, 2021, a week before his 58th birthday.

The cause of his death was not revealed.

However, a statement by the church said the clergyman spent his last moment on earth in the service of God.

However, the BBC said it conducted a two-year investigation, in collaboration with an international media platform – Open Democracy, which involved more than 15 BBC journalists across three continents.

The report stated that former insiders estimated that Joshua made tens of millions of dollars from pilgrims and other money streams – fundraising, video sales, and stadium appearances abroad.

The investigation centered around allegations of sexual assault, physical abuse, solitary confinement, and fake miracles, amongst others.

“More than 25 eyewitnesses and alleged victims, from the UK, Nigeria, Ghana, US, South Africa and Germany, have provided accounts of what it was like inside Joshua’s compound, with the most recent experiences in 2019.

“Testimony from dozens of survivors suggests Joshua was abusing and raping young women from around the world several times a week for nearly 20 years.” the report noted.

One of the victims who was part of the ‘disciples,’ an elite group of followers who served and lived with Joshua inside his compound; 21-year-old female Briton, Rae, gave a recount of her experience.

She was, at that time, studying graphic design at a university in Brighton, UK, in 2002.

A close friend of Rae, Carla, recalled how they both travelled to Nigeria in search of a mysterious man who could seemingly heal people with his hands. He was a Christian pastor, with a black beard, in white robes. His name was TB Joshua. His followers called him “The Prophet.”

Rae and Carla planned to visit his church, the SCOAN, for just one week. But Rae never came home. She had moved into Joshua’s compound.

“I left her there,” says Carla, tears flowing freely. “Never will I ever forgive myself for that.

“For me, it was like she died, but I couldn’t grieve her,” Carla revealed.

Rae, in her account, stated that she was gay and thought being healed by Joshua would solve her predicament.

She narrated, “I was gay and I didn’t want to be,” she says. “I thought: ‘Well, maybe this is the answer to my problems. Maybe this man can straighten me out. Like if he prays for me, I won’t be gay anymore.’”

Rae described the moment she stepped foot into the Synagogue, saying, “I had a really involuntary reaction. I just broke down in floods of tears.”

She stated that at that point, Joshua singled her out to become a “disciple.”

She had thought the clergyman would “cure” her sexuality and learn under his tutelage, but to her imagination, her thought never materialised.

“We all thought we were in heaven, but we were in hell,” adding, “And in hell terrible things happen.”

Rae narrated how she went through psychological trauma for two years, during which she was forbidden from leaving the compound, and nobody inside was allowed to talk to her., adding that she attempted to commit suicide five times.

Many of the victims said it happened frequently – as much as two to four times a week – for the duration of their time in the compound. Some described violent rapes which left them struggling to breathe or bleeding.

Many believed they were the only ones being assaulted and did not dare share what was happening to them with the other disciples, as they were all encouraged to report on each other.

Rae noted that it’s “extremely difficult to understand how somebody can go through psychological abuse to the extent that they lose their critical thinking.”

“I was basically in total isolation… I had a complete breakdown. I tried to commit suicide five times,” she said.

After spending 12 years inside Joshua’s compound, Rae returned to England.

She had slipped away from the disciples while travelling with the church on a tour to Mexico, stating, “He made a huge mistake, he lost control of me.”

Rae stated that it was only after she left that she realised that her family and friends had been sending her emails. She had never received them.

“On the outside, I look normal, but I’m not. This story is like a horror story. It’s like something you watch in fiction, but it’s true,” Rae said while she recalled the tragic trauma and the impacts it’s had on her.

She expressed her disappointment that Joshua didn’t wait to face the consequences of the atrocities he had committed before his death.

“TB Joshua dying before facing justice for the atrocities he committed, has been deeply frustrating. It’s only added to the gross sense of injustice felt by all of us as his victims,” she noted.

BBC stated that it contacted SCOAN with the allegations in the investigation. They did not respond to them but denied previous claims against Joshua.

“Making unfounded allegations against Prophet TB Joshua is not a new occurrence… None of the allegations was ever substantiated,” the church stated.

The BBC stated that former followers have previously tried to speak out about abuse, but say they had been silenced or discredited by SCOAN, while two said they were physically assaulted.

When the BBC’s Africa Eye was filming outside the church, a security guard shot above the heads of the crew after they refused to hand over their material, the report noted.

A Nigerian, Bisola, who was also a ‘disciple,’ stated that she was raped multiple times by the late clergyman.

Bisola, who spent 14 years inside the compound, added that she was asked to recruit virgin girls into the disciple fold under threats of violence.

“TB Joshua asked me to recruit virgins for him… So that he could bring them into the disciple-fold and disvirgin them,” she revealed.

Bisola told the BBC that courting Westerners was a key tactic employed by Joshua

“He used the white people to market his brand,” she said.

The report stated that many of the young people who left their home countries to meet Joshua in the early 2000s didn’t pay for their tickets.

It added that Church groups across England raised funds to send pilgrims to Lagos to witness these miracles – and Joshua contributed Scoan money himself, senior former church insiders said.

Later, once the church was well established, Joshua charged high prices for pilgrims to come and stay.

A broadcast journalist in Namibia, Jessica Kaimu, narrated that she was raped by Joshua at the age of 17, in the bathroom of his penthouse, within weeks of her becoming a disciple.

She stated that Joshua wasn’t moved by her screams, saying, “I was screaming and he was whispering in my ear that I should stop acting like a baby… I was so traumatised, I couldn’t cry.”

Kaimu noted that she was raped for five years throughout her stay as a disciple.

A woman who craved anonymity stated that it happened to her twice before the age of 15.

“It was so painful, he violated me. Words cannot properly express it. It scarred me for life,” she said.

The report noted that there were accounts by four of Joshua’s male personal servants who were given the job of clearing up the physical evidence of this abuse.

“We’d never… seen anything like that before,” said a journalist who covers African religion, Solomon Ashoms, adding, “The mysteries that he had, the secrets that he carried, [were] what people followed.”

Another victim, Victoria (not real name), stated that she spent more than five years in the compound, adding that some victims were often hand-picked by Joshua from the church congregation.

While recounting her ordeal, Victoria said she was picked out while attending the church’s Sunday school, and says she was raped in Joshua’s private quarters a few months later, after her parents entrusted her into his care.

She was later recruited as a resident disciple.

Victoria said Joshua ordered some of his most trusted Nigerian disciples to help identify new victims, identifying the group which was informally known as the “fishing department.”

A former South African disciple, Sihle, narrated that she had three forced abortions in the church.

Sihle said, “You are given a concoction to drink and you get sick. Or they put these metal pieces in your vagina and they extract whatever. And you don’t know whether they’re [accidentally] pulling out your womb.”

The investigative report noted that the disciples served Joshua’s every need, from massages to helping him dress, and spray his perfume when he entered the room.

They also placed plastic gloves on his hands so he could eat his food without touching a crumb.

A man once regarded as Joshua’s number two in the church, Agomoh Paul, who left after 10 years in the compound, revealed that the whole miracle thing was scripted.

“That guy [was] a genius. Everything… [he did was] planned out,” Paul stated.

A major part of this planning was the faking of the “miracles” said Paul, which he noted he oversaw.

He and other sources say that those “cured” had often been paid to perform or exaggerate their symptoms before their supposed healing took place.

In some cases, they say, people had been unknowingly drugged or given medicine to improve their conditions while at the church, and later persuaded to give testimony about their recovery. Others were falsely told they had tested positive for HIV/AIDS and that, thanks to Joshua’s ministrations, they had now become virus-free.

Paul also noted that Joshua “wanted to control everybody, everything. What he was really scrambling for [was] the control of people’s minds.”

The disciples said they were made to work, without pay, for long hours each day – running all aspects of the megachurch. All say sleep deprivation was routine, with lights left on in the dormitories at night, the report stated.

The church, which is still in operation today, is led by his widow, Evelyn.

In his lifetime, Joshua attracted dozens of politicians and celebrities to his church.

 

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NASRE Advises FG On Food Crisis, Forex Shortage Amid Calls To Suspend Import Ban

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As Nigeria finds itself at a critical crossroads, grappling with simultaneous challenges of a food crisis and a foreign exchange (forex) shortage.

 

This is even as the nation seeks solutions to mitigate these pressing issues, the debate over whether to open its borders for importation has intensified.

 

The food crisis gripping Nigeria has raised concerns about food security and access to essential nutrition for millions of citizens.

 

Adverse weather conditions, supply chain disruptions, and other factors have contributed to dwindling food supplies and soaring prices, placing a significant strain on households and exacerbating the vulnerability of already marginalized communities.

 

Meanwhile, the forex shortage has hampered Nigeria’s ability to import essential goods and raw materials, further exacerbating supply chain disruptions and exacerbating inflationary pressures.

 

Industries reliant on imported inputs, including agriculture, manufacturing, and healthcare, have been particularly hard hit, impeding economic growth and development.

 

In response to these challenges, some stakeholders advocate for opening Nigeria’s borders to facilitate the importation of food and other essential commodities.

 

Proponents argue that increased importation could help alleviate immediate food shortages, stabilize prices, and provide relief to vulnerable populations facing hunger and malnutrition.

 

However, others caution against the potential risks of opening borders amid a forex shortage. Critics raise concerns about the impact on domestic production and self-sufficiency, as well as the long-term consequences of relying heavily on imported goods. They emphasize the need to prioritize investments in domestic agriculture and infrastructure to build resilience against future crises.

 

As Nigeria navigates these complex issues, the government faces the daunting task of balancing short-term relief efforts with long-term strategies for sustainable development and economic resilience.

 

Proffering suggestion on how the government can address the unending inflationary pressures, Forex shortages, food prices hike and revitalise the nation’s economy, the Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors (NASRE), has advised the Nigerian government to adopt collaborative efforts involving policymakers, industry stakeholders, civil society organizations, and international partners to identify holistic solutions that address both immediate needs and underlying structural challenges.

 

On the debate over whether Nigeria should open its borders for importation amid the food crisis and forex shortage, the President of the advocacy group, Mr Femi Oyewale, underscores the urgency of coordinated action and innovative thinking.

 

According to him, now more than ever, solidarity, cooperation, and forward-thinking policies are needed to ensure the well-being and prosperity of all Nigerians.

 

“The question of whether Nigerian borders should be opened for food importation in the face of a food crisis is complex and multifaceted. However, there are factors to consider, which basically, Domestic Agricultural Capacity. Because opening borders for food importation could undermine domestic agricultural production by flooding the market with cheaper imported goods.

 

“However, if domestic production is insufficient to meet demand, importing food may be necessary to avoid shortages,” he said.

 

On the economic implications of borders opening, the President of NASRE, Oyewale, said: “Importing food can have economic ramifications, both positive and negative. On one hand, it can provide access to a wider variety of foods and potentially lower prices for consumers. On the other hand, it may negatively impact local farmers and exacerbate trade imbalances.”

 

The resourceful editors, while commenting on Food Security, pointed out that relying heavily on imported food leaves a country vulnerable to supply chain disruptions and price fluctuations in the global market. Therefore, it urged the federal government to develop a robust domestic agricultural sector, which is crucial for long-term food security.

 

According to Oyewale, the Nigerian government must consider its broader economic and agricultural policies when making decisions about food importation. This includes evaluating subsidies, tariffs, and investment in agricultural infrastructure.

 

“Importing food often involves long-distance transportation, which contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and environmental degradation. Promoting local production can help reduce the carbon footprint associated with food consumption.

 

“Food is not just a commodity; it is essential for human well-being. Government policies should prioritize ensuring access to nutritious and culturally appropriate food for all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable to food insecurity,” he added.

 

The Nigerian Association of Social and Resourceful Editors, NASRE, therefore, noted that the decision to open Nigerian borders for food importation during a food crisis should be approached cautiously, taking into account the country’s domestic agricultural capacity, economic implications, food security goals, environmental concerns, and social welfare considerations.

 

“A balanced approach that supports both domestic production and responsible trade practices may be necessary to address immediate food shortages while also promoting long-term food security and sustainability,” the Association stated.

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Lagos State Government to prosecute 11 suspects for extortion

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The Lagos State Government said 11 suspects arrested at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state will be prosecuted to serve as deterrents to others extorting residents and motorists in the state.

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Olawale Musa, disclosed this while addressing journalists on Wednesday.

He added that the suspects parade themselves as enforcement officers to extort unsuspecting motorists and residents in the state.

Musa said, “Lagos State Government has declared zero tolerance for extortion of unsuspecting residents, especially motorists, by miscreants parading themselves as enforcement officers at the Ibeju-Lekki junction and Akodo area of the state.

“We have announced severally that nobody is allowed to collect money for the local government on the street of Lagos, and the government has set up a team to ensure that anybody that does that is picked up and from that Lekki axis.

“They will be charged to court to explain themselves, and I want to sound a note of warning to others that do the same thing that we will not relent; the government is all out for them.”

He noted that it is unlawful for any local government area within the state to place personnel to conduct such operations on the highways.

“If you have any issues, you call us, and we will come and address them, but when you have people coming on the road on the guise that you want to have revenue at this hard time, collecting money from motorists on the road is not fair, and it is illegal in Lagos State to resist it.

“It is illegal for any local government area in the state to deploy people on the roads as it negates the Lagos State Road Traffic Law, Section 18, 2018, which empowers only the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority to carry out such operations on the roads,” he added.

In March 2023, The PUNCH reported that the Lagos State Government arrested four suspected hoodlums in some parts of the state over extortion.

The suspects were arrested in the Amuwo-Odofin area of the state while attempting to extort motorists.

 

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N10bn fraud: EFCC to arraign Abdulfattah Ahmed, ex-Kwara Governor Friday

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission will arraign the immediate-past governor of Kwara State, Abdulfattah Ahmed, for alleged N10bn fraud on Friday, The PUNCH has learnt.

Credible sources in the anti-graft agency said the ex-governor would be dragged before the Federal High Court in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.

“He is going to be arraigned on Friday at the Federal High Court in Ilorin for diversion of funds, amounting to N10bn,” the source told our correspondent.

The ex-governor has been detained by the EFCC since Monday when he honoured an invitation for interrogation.

His Chief Press Secretary, Alhaji AbdulWahab Oba, confirmed his principal’s visit to the EFCC office on Monday, stating that it was only “procedural and routine”.

“Dr Ahmed’s visit to the EFCC is procedural and routine. He was invited and he honoured them as he’s always done. He’s always ready to respond to any query or question regarding his tenure as a governor of the state.”

On Tuesday night, Oba lamented that the EFCC was still holding on to Ahmed, saying he was given stringent bail conditions.

“Yes, he is still with the EFCC and we are now in a dilemma over the issue because they keep changing the goalpost during the match. The case is taking a new dimension, which we don’t really understand for now.

“Initially they said they wanted him to produce two sureties who are federal directors. The sureties came and were asked to provide landed properties in Abuja. We see this as a contradiction. The case was initially handled by the EFCC office in Abuja before it was transferred to Ilorin over the issue of jurisdiction. Additionally, he has been denied access to his doctors, medication and direct access to his cook,” Oba said.

Meanwhile, members of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest to the EFCC zonal office in Ilorin, where Ahmed was being detained.

The protesters, who carried placards with various inscriptions, expressed displeasure over Ahmed’s detention.

Led by the state Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olusegun Adewara, the party members alleged that the All Progressives Congress in the state was behind Ahmed’s troubles.

Some of the inscriptions on their placards read: “EFCC should stop being a tool in the hands of Abdulrazaq led-APC”, “Governor Ahmed was very transparent”, “EFCC is not a department in the APC, EFCC, stop the harassment”, “The opposition cannot be silenced”, “Maigida will not join the APC no matter the persecution”, “EFCC, don’t instigate political crisis in Kwara State”, “No to illegal detention. Respect the rule of law”, among others.

But addressing the protesters, the zonal commander of the EFCC, Michael Nzekwe, said Ahmed had been given an administration bail but he could not meet the conditions.

“We’re wrapping up. Once we wrap up, the law will take its course. The anti-graft agency, being a creation of law, would not go contrary to law.

“Everything we’ve done is within the ambit of the law. The former governor is cooperating with us and we’re making good progress following rules of law. As I speak, he’s with his lawyer, a SAN; he attends to everyone who comes to see him, and he has a doctor who has attended to him. He eats what he wants to eat. I urge us to allow the law take its course. We’re not partisan nor prompted by anybody. This body is solely sponsored by the Federal Government,” Nzekwe said.

 

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