By Femi Fani-Kayode
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 earlier first broke.
I commend his enormous courage and for standing by his wife at this difficult time.
Last week Pastor Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) 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 mentality” 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 the living 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?
As the late Archbishop Benson Idahosa once said,
“Why is the Body of Christ the only army that shoots it’s wounded? Our job is to restore and heal one another”.
I go a step further by asking, why are believers always so ready to assume the worst about other believers and crucify them at the drop of a hat?
Why are we always so eager to join hands with unbelievers to defame and destroy our own?
Sometime last year a strange woman falsely accused Apostle Johnson Suleiman of Omega Fire Ministries of illicit and salacious sexual liaisons and 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 a few months 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 suddenly crawled out of the sewer and falsely accused Prophet T.B. Joshua of SCOAN of raping her as a child and abducting and kidnapping her for 14 years.
Thankfully in a matter of days SCOAN rose to the occasion, killed the lie, exposed the liar and proved that she was a mentally unstable and worthless creature from the pit of hell.
If the Lord had not been with these two men their respective ministries, reputations and Churches would have been utterly decimated.
The moral of the tale is as follows: never be too quick to judge simply because the accuser is a woman. She could be a legitimate victim of wrongdoing and an angel that has spoken nothing but the truth but on the other hand she could be a lying demon in human flesh and a daughter of the devil 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 deserves nothing but love, sympathy, support and encouragement and every rapist ought to be brought to justice.
There is nothing worse than a Pastor that rapes because he is in a position of immense trust and he has abused the power and influence that he has been given over others.
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 Dakolo and Fatoyinbo and it may only ever be done if and when the matter goes to court.
Sadly with all that has been said in the media about Fatoyinbo over the last three weeks by some notable leaders and elders of the Body of Christ I am convinced that many in the Nigerian Church would have joined the leaders of Ancient Egypt to condemn and jail the biblical Joseph after he was falsely accused of raping Potiphar’s wife.
Must our reactions to grave, complex, salacious and unproven allegations always be emotional? Is there not a presumption of innocence under every decent and civilised moral code and indeed 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. 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 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 anointing” anymore and openly denigrated the Pentecostal Church and Pentecostal Pastors.
All that simply because of the unproven and uncorroborated allegations made by Dakolo against Fatoyinbo.
The second salvo came from 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 admirer of both Abati and Adebowale and most of the time I agree with them on all that they write.
However on this matter I do not share their views. 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 either simply because of an unproven allegation that has been made by Dakolo.
Even if proven, the criminal actions of a single rogue Pastor surely cannot be enough to legitimately indict or raise questions about the credibility, efficacy, legitimacy and power of the entire Pentecostal Church and Evangelical movement.
It is Fatoyinbo that is, so to speak, on trial here and not the Pentecostal Church. Secondly the assertion that there is no such thing as the anointing in the Pentecostal Church anymore is not only offensive but it is also simply not true.
Not only is the anointing alive and well in the Church of Christ but it also still doing wonders, still breaking yokes, still setting the captives free and still bringing joy, peace, blessings, hope, strength, victories and deliverance to millions.
Again the assertion that COZA members are under a spell is 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 Fatoyinbo without any solid proof of his wrongdoing other than the blanket allegations of his many accusers.
I have been the victim of unsubstantiated, vicious, scurrilous, pernicious and salacious allegations on numerous occasions over the last 30 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 occasions 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 scatter the sheep simply by making baseless allegations against the Pastor and the shepherd.
It is Fatoyinbo today but it could be 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 members of his family, congregation and Church to stand by him, show him love and continue to pray for him.
Even when we suspect that a man of God has erred we must always remember that our Lord Jesus Christ saved Peter from drowning in the Sea of Galilee BEFORE publicly rebuking him.
We must save him from drowning first and then we are free to rebuke him publicly. A real father does not first publicly rebuke and then save his son: he must first save his son and then publicly rebuke him.
Sensible and timely was the intervention made by CAN. 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 facts 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.
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 by emotion or driven by the lynch-mob mentality that appears to have afflicted most of those that have made public contributions on this matter. Kudos to them!
That, and not the public crucifixtion of Fatoyinbo or the wholesale denigration of the Pentescostal Church and Evangelical movement is surely the way forward.
To the millions of women that have stood by Mrs. Busola Dakolo and expressed outrage about what she claims to have been subjected to, including the First Lady Mrs. Aisha Buhari and other prominent figures, 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, son or Pastor 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 energy as they are putting into this matter to the case of Miss Leah Sharibu who was abducted by Boko Haram over one and a half years ago and who, as Reno Omokri rightly said “is being raped every day”.
They can also consider the case of Justice Esther Asabe Karatu, the former Acting Chief Judge of Kebbi state who the Governor of Kebbi refused to confirm as Chief Judge simply because she is a Christian and who was physically barred, humiliated and prevented from entering her own court to deliver a judgement just a few days ago.
They can also take up 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.
They can also look into the case of Senator Elisha Ishaku Abbo’s step-mother who was abducted from her home on the 13th of July even as she was nursing her 11-day old baby! Finally they should consider the case of Mrs. Funke Fasoranti-Olakunrin, the 58 year old daughter of the leader of Afenifere, Pa Reuben Fasoranti and a mother and a grandmother in her own right, who was murdered in cold blood by Fulani herdsmen in the streets of Ore, Ondo state on 12th July 2019.
These helpless female victims of dark and evil men are also worthy of the mass celebrity support, media attention, solidarity marches, protests and demonstrations that are being organised on behalf of Dakolo.
In a these five 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 own verbal account of events, we are yet to see such evidence. May God guide us.