The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) has absolved its founder, Temitope Joshua, all allegations of rape, releasing a series of old videos to portray an accuser as dishonest and unstable.
Mr Joshua was accused by Bisola Johnson of molestation and rape of church members, including herself. Ms Johnson, an author, said Mr Joshua held her captive for about 14 years.
She made the claim on June 30 when she took part in a demonstration against Biodun Fatoyinbo of Commonwealth Zion Assembly (COZA) in Lagos. Mr Fatoyinbo had been accused of rape by Busola Dakolo, and forced to step down as leader of COZA on July 1.
“I was sexually molested by T.B. Joshua,” Ms Johnson said. “I was trapped in Synogague Church for 14 years.” She also alleged that children, ages eight, 11 and 14, were molested inside the church.
The video was widely circulated online, drawing outrage from Nigerians and prompting a response from the church.
The church said Ms Joshua has been unstable for so many years, and urged the public to disregard his claims because they lacked credibility.
Ms Johnson’s latest allegations came as Mr Joshua was wrapping up a crusade in Nazareth. The programme, described as hugely successful, was attended by thousands from within and outside Israel, including Dele Momodu.
A series of videos released by the church showed how Ms Johnson had been accusing Mr Joshua of rape for more than a decade, and how she always returned after each allegation to ‘confess’ and recant.
“My name is Bisola. I have acted as an enemy of God rather than a friend. And today, I am coming back as a prodigal daughter, so that God will forgive me; so that the Man of God will forgive me and the church, Synagogue, will forgive me,” she said in a video. “I have been rebellious. When I left the SCOAN, nobody asked me to leave. I am asking God (kneels) to forgive me.”
In another video, Ms Johnson knelt down, sobbing and seemingly sorry about the controversies she had courted.
She blamed her rape accusations against Mr Joshua on migraines which she had suffered for so many years, and promised to get treatments for it.
“I will never come to this place in this form again,” she said to a gathering of church members.
Mr Joshua remarked that Ms Johnson’s habitual allegations and apologies had made it difficult to take her ‘confessions’ seriously, but she insisted that she would never accuse him of rape, molestation and other grievous abuses again.
Ms Johnson, who wrote a book in 2015 that catalogued her allegations against Mr Joshua, admitted to PREMIUM TIMES that she was the one in the videos released by SCOAN, but said she was under supernatural influence each time.
“I was manipulated to do all the videos. I was under bewitchment. I was under hypnotism as T.B. Joshua is known to do,” Ms Johnson said.
She said she spent over 14 years at the church, during which she worked at several departments and held leadership positions.
She disputed the church’s claim that she was unstable, saying the church was unwittingly exposing itself to ridicule with the allegations.
“Do I sound like someone unstable since you have been talking to me? Even if I am unstable, why have I not been healed by a church that preaches healing after spending 14 years there?” Ms Johnson told PREMIUM TIMES on Sunday.
She said during the COZA protest in Lagos last week, she made a conscious effort not to accuse Mr Joshua of rape or other sexual crimes.
“But I found out that there is no way I could tell my story of rape without mentioning T.B. Joshua because it originated from his church,” Ms Johnson said. “I do not want my past to be another person’s future.”
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