Accuser of the bretheren

PERMIT me to begin by saying that my heart goes out to Mr. Timi Dakolo, a very pleasant and respectful young man who I first met at President Goodluck Jonathan’s house two years ago.

We interacted again two weeks ago when we spoke briefly on the phone after the news about the horrendous travails that his beautiful wife Busola was allegedly subjected to by Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) 19 years ago first broke.

I commend his enormous courage and for standing by his wife at this difficult time. I expect no less from a well-bred, decent and honourable young man like him.

Last week Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), one of the most revered and respected men of God in Nigeria and the spiritual father of no less than our Vice President, Pastor Yemi Osinbajo, in a veiled but clear reference to the Dakolo/Fatoyinbo matter said the following.

“Once a woman accuses you of something, no matter how irrational it is, nobody will listen to you”.

Pastor Adeboye may well be right but the question is whether this is a satisfactory state of affairs and whether it is just, fair and proper? Should this be the case in any civilised society? Should it be the case in the Church?

Does this “lynch-mob philosophy” not demean and destroy the very fabric of our society and the very foundation of our existence?

Does it not undermine the utility, credibility and power of the Church? Should we not outrightly condemn it and seek to change it rather than espouse and accept it as a given?

Must a man, or indeed a Pastor, live in perpetual fear of the damning and implicative words of an ‘accuser of the brethren’ and grave allegations that may well have no basis in rationality or truth?

Does veracity no longer have a place in the land of civilised men or in the Church? Is the essence and central message of our Christian faith not to show love and to be just and fair to all?

Are we, as Christians, not meant to love even the unlovable? Are we not meant to NEVER judge a matter or condemn a man or a woman without first perusing, exploring, establishing and ascertaining all the relevant facts?

Sometime last year a strange woman falsely accused Apostle Johnson Suleiman of Omega Fire Ministries of illicit and sallacious sexual liaisons ahd encounters and many Nigerians assumed that she spoke the truth until the man of God fought back and proved that she was a fraud.

The Jezebel that accused him was eventually put to shame. She even came back to the Church one year later with her mother and confessed that she had lied on the man of God and that she had been paid to set him up and implicate him.

Just two weeks ago in the wake of the Dakolo/Fatoyinbo storm, another strange woman falsely accused Prophet T. B. Joshua of SCOAN of rape and of abducting and kidnapping her for 14 years.

Thankfully in a matter of days he rose to the occasion, killed the lie, exposed the liar and proved that she was a creature from the pit of hell whose mission was simply to destroy him.

If the Lord had not been with these two great men of God the Kingdom of satan would have rejoiced and their respective ministries, reputations and Churches would have been utterly decimated and destroyed.

The bottom line is this: never be too quick to judge simply because the accuser is a woman. She could be an angel that has spoken nothing but the truth but at the same time she could be a lying demon in human flesh or a daughter of the sea that is out to destroy: only God knows the truth.

I do not under any circumstances support or condone rape and I think that it is a beastly, barbaric, cruel and savage act. Every victim of rape, including Busola Dakolo, deserves nothing but love, sympathy, support and encouragement and every rapist, including Biodun Fatoyinbo, ought to be brought to justice.

However before we pass judgement and hang the “offender” we must establish the truth and the facts. As far as I am concerned this has not been done in the case of Mrs Dakolo and Pastor Fatoyinbo and it can only ever be done if and when the matter goes to a civil or criminal court.

Sadly with all that is being said by some notable leaders and elders of the Body of Christ about Fatoyinbo today I am convinced that the entire Church in Nigeria would have joined the whole of Ancient Egypt to condemn the biblical Joseph after he was falsely accused of raping Potipher’s wife.

Must our reactions to grave, complex, sallacious and unproven allegations like this always be emotional? Is there not a presumption of innocence under our constitution?

Are we not all entitled to a fair hearing before being condemned in the court of public opinion? Must we always believe the worst about our own even when there is no tangible evidence to prove the allegation other than the uncorroborated evidence of the so-called victim?

I was particularly disturbed by two interventions that were made by two great writers who I have immense respect for and whose columns I never miss. Both of them fired hard shots and delivered powerful body blows to both Biodun and the Body of Christ last week.

The first salvo came from my brother Dr. Reuben Abati, the former Chairman of the Editorial Board of the Guardian Newspaper and the former spokesman to President Goodluck Jonathan. In his Tuesday column in Thisday newspaper, he went as far as to assert that there was no such thing as “the annointing” anymore and openly denigrated the Pentecostal Church and Pentecostal Pastors generally.

All that simply because of the unproven and uncorroborated allegations made by Mrs. Dakolo against Pastor Fatoyinbo.

The second salvo came from another dear brother, Mr Yemi Adebowale, the editor of Saturday Thisday Newspaper who, in his column, said that members of COZA Church must be under some sort of spell for defending and standing by their Pastor.

I am a great follower of both Abati and Adebowale and most of the time I agree with them on all that they write. They are cerebal, sincere, insightful and clear-thinking and over the years they have both made their mark and paid their dues. I dare not dismiss their words or counsel lightly.

However on this matter I disagree with them both. I am a proud member of the Evangelical movement and the Pentecostal Church and I do not think it is right and proper to attempt to undermine the credibility of the whole movement simply because of some unproven allegations that have been made by Mrs Dakolo.

Even if and when proven, the criminal actions and foibles of one Pastor surely cannot be enough to legitimately indict or raise questions about the entire Pentecostal Church and Evangelical movement.

It is Pastor Biodun that is, so to speak, on trial here and not the Pentecostal Church. Secondly the assertion that there is no such thing as the annointing in the Pentecostal Church anymore is not only deeply offensive but it is also simply not true.

Not only is the annointing alive and well in the Church of Christ but it also still doing wonders, still breaking yokes and still setting the captives feee.

Again the assertion that COZA members are under a spell is deeply insulting. I worship at COZA from time to time, my dear wife Precious is a full-time member and my son Aragorn was dedicated to the Lord in that Church three years ago.

None of us are under any spell. And neither would it be right and proper for us to turn our backs on Biodun Fatoyinbo without any solid proof of his wrongdoing other than the blanket allegations of his accuser.

I have been the victim of unsubstantiated, vicious, scurrilious, pernicious and sallacious allegations on numerous occassions over the last 40 years and I know what it is like to be falsely accused.

If my loved ones had turned their backs on me and not given me the benefit of the doubt on each of those occassions I would have been lost.

The point is that there must be a certain degree of loyalty displayed by members of the congregation to their Church and Pastors. If that were not the case the easiest thing in the world to do would be to destroy Churches and congregations and scatter the sheep simply by making baseless allegations against the Pastor and the shepherd.

It is Fatoyinbo today but it could be Okonkwo, Ashimolowo, Adeboye, Oyedepo, Abioye, Ibieyomi, Adefarasin, Rapu, Olukoya, Joshua, Suleiman, Enenche, Praise or anyone else tomorrow. No-one is too big to be accused and no-one is too big to fall. We must be ready to stand by our own unless and until hard evidence of wrongdoing is provided.

If and when the Pastor’s guilt is proved, admitted or established then it becomes a different matter entirely but up until then it is only right and proper for his family and members of his congregation and Church to stand by him, show him love and continue to pray for him.

We must not be too quick to judge or make mockery of others who have been publicly accused of wrongdoing without first hearing or seeing the evidence because you could be the one that is falsely accused tomorrow.

Even if or when we genuinely believe that a man of God errs we must always remember that the Lord saved Peter from drowning in the Sea of Galilee BEFORE publicly rebuking him.

We must save him from himself first and then we are free to rebuke him publicly. Fathers do not publicly rebuke and then save their sons, they must first save their sons and then they can publicly rebuke him. In any case none of us are angels and, as Jesus Himself said,  «let he who is free of sin cast the first stone.”

Refreshing, sensible and timely was the intervention made by CAN in this whole matter. In a statement signed by the Acting General Secretary of CAN Joseph Bade Daramola, on 7th July 2019, they said, inter alia, that they frowned on the media attacks on the Body of Christ by columnists and commentators alike that have come as a consequence of this whole saga, that they would not impute guilt on any party until they have heard all the tacts and seen the evidence, that they would intervene in the matter in an attempt to settle it amicably and that up until then all parties to the conflict should sheath their swords and stop indulging in a media war.

By these words and by undertaking this laudable initiative CAN has put the devil to shame. They have also displayed immense wisdom, decency and restraint, they have refused to convict a man based on allegations that are yet to be proved and facts that are yet to be established or corroborated and they have treated this grave  matter with the seriousness and gravitas that it deserves.

They have refused to be flippant, petty, partial and judgemental and they have not allowed themselves to be moved or driven by the lynch-mob mentality that appears to have afflicted most of those that have made contributions on this matter. Kudos to them!

That, and not the public crucifiction of Biodun and the wholesale denigration of the Pentescostal Church and Evangelical movement is surely the way forward.

To the millions of celebrity and non-celebrity women all over the country and indeed all over the world that have rightly stood by the beautiful Mrs. Busola Dakolo and expressed outrage about what she claims to have been subjected to I say that I appreciate your concern and pain.

No-one will hear such a horrendous story and not be torn apart, including yours truly. However I also implore them to pause and think. Would they be so quick to assume guilt if it had been their father, husband or son that was accused of such a terrible thing?

Would they not demand to see proof? Would they not at least wait for that proof to be adduced or provided before condemning the accused?

Apart from that I would urge then to channel the same amount of angst, passion and energy as they are putting into this matter to the case of Miss Leah Sharibu who was abducted by Boko Haram over one year ago and who, as my brother Pastor Reno Omokri rightly argued “is being raped every day.” Reno has been consistent and clear on both the Sharibu and now the Dakolo/Fatoyinbo matter and I commend him for that.

There is also the case of Justice Esther Asabe Karatu, the former Acting Chief Judge of Kebbi state who was not confirmed as Chief Judge simply because she is a Christian woman and who was physically barred, humiliated and prevented from entering her own court to deliver a judgement by agents of the Governor just a few days ago.

There is also the terrible case of a young 9 year old girl that was raped by her Imam in a mosque a few weeks ago and for which plenty of evidence and corroboration was adduced and abounds.

These courageous women and helpless victims are surely also worthy of the support and media attention and all the solidarity marches, protests and demonstrations that are being organised on behalf of Mrs. Busola Dakolo.

In a these three cases the evidence of evil and wrongdoing abounds and proof of the sheer horror and wickedness that the victims have been subjected to is there for all to see. In Mrs. Dakolo’s case, other than her verbal account of events, we are yet to see it. May God guide us.

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