The embattled founder and leader of the Commonwealth Of Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo, delivered his first Sunday sermon since the allegation of rape broke on Thursday.
Although there were speculations that Mr Fatoyinbo would not attend the service; he did.
Before the sermon commenced, about seven women gave what was tagged ”COZA testimony.” All the women spoke, separately, about how they met Mr Fatoyinbo and how their life has changed for good.
The cleric’s wife, Omodele Fatoyinbo, started the sermon with a Bible scripture from ”2 Samuel 22:1”
She rejected the rape allegation against her husband and said he would never do such.
Mr Fatoyinbo then climbed the podium to appreciate his members for being steadfast despite the allegations.
The programme which started at about 9 a.m. ended at 10:35 a.m.
Biodun Fatoyinbo has held Nigerian headlines since Thursday morning when the interview of one of his alleged victims was made public.
Busola Dakolo, a former member of COZA, told YNaija in the emotional interview that she was 16 when Mr Fatoyinbo raped her in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The allegations prompted condemnation of the preacher, who has faced previous allegations of sexual misconduct from two women.
On Sunday, scores of protesters gathered at the church’s headquarters in Abuja to march against Mr Fatoyinbo.
Simultaneous protests were held in Lagos and Abuja.
Despite the protests, thousands of church members still gathered to worship at the Abuja church.
When he spoke, Mr Fatoyino said he had been consulting with his mentors. He also announced the suspension of a planned programme of the church.
See his full statement below.
”Having you in my life, I am the most blessed pastor in the world. It took me a long time to get here today. I did not like what I saw today. Some if you came early, this is not what I want to put you through. I will only say something to you, if I was not a pastor of this church, I will be a member.
“I have been relating with all my mentors, you know I am a man under authority, I really love to listen to them. So, I am going to be giving a few instructions as time goes on but the first instruction I want to give is, be that as it may with what is going on, I am not a desperate person to say we must have the programme. With what is going on I don’t want to put any… I don’t like… I am a peaceful person, you know that.
“So, because of this, we are going to be having prayers every day for those who are interested to come. But we are not going to have the ‘seven days of glory’ (grumbling) because I don’t want all these kinds of stuff. I think last month we prayed for a whole month and we do all of that. Please, let’s be people of peace.
“So, if you want to pray with us, you can come here to pray. But the regular seven days…, you don’t want to put your guest speakers through that. You know we love to host people properly; we don’t want to do that. And you know some of them, apart from the fact that the Lord spoke to me about that, my mentors said to me, this is what we need to do while we step in and make sure we see what is going on. And you know what we stand for in COZA. So, please let’s obey God in our mentors and be a people of peace.
“Also, when you are going out, they are going to direct you how to go out, please don’t fight anybody, don’t reply anybody, you came to worship. They may say things to you, it doesn’t matter. Please, behave yourselves and make sure everything is in place.”
”Please don’t fight anybody, don’t reply anybody. You came to worship. You should know better.
”How many of you have been blessed in Coza? They may say things to you, it does not matter, you have a personal experience. Be peaceable and walk out in Jesus name. I want to encourage and appeal to those who are in the church. I don’t want security agent to rough handle you and you say it’s COZA. Please behave yourself and make sure everything is in place. The lord is your strength in Jesus name.”
Mr Fatoyinbo then prayed for the congregation.