The Senior Pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, finally bowed to pressure to step aside from the pulpit to pave the way for the investigation of allegation of rape made against him by Mrs. Busola Dakolo. He announced his decision in a statement just as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said it awaited the outcome of investigation launched by the Pentecostal Bloc of the association before reaching a decision on the matter. Fatoyinbo was accused by Busola, a former member of his church and wife of Nigerian musician, Timi Dakolo, of raping her when she was 16 years old.
The rape allegation, which triggered a nationwide outrage and led to protests on Sunday in Abuja and Lagos, prompted the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command to raise the security alert level in a bid to forestall any breakdown of law and order in the nation’s capital. Fatoyinbo’s decision to stand down followed Sunday’s massive protests, held at the Lagos and Ilorin branches and Abuja headquarters of the church, organized by concerned Nigerians and human rights groups. The groups demanded the immediate resignation of the pastor as well as police investigation of the allegation. Fatoyinbo, in the statement, said his decision to step aside was based on the advice of his elders.
In the statement, Fatoyinbo said: “I have taken time to pray and seek spiritual counsel from Christian leaders around the world, who feel very concerned about the ongoing reports in the media. I have solicited their guidance on actions I should take that is honoring to our Lord Jesus Christ and the work He has called me to do. Drawing from their counsel and that of the leadership of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly and owing to my love for God’s work and the sacred honor of my calling, I have decided to take a leave of absence from the pulpit of the church. This step enables me to submit to the concerns of my spiritual mentors as they consider all the issues that have been raised against me. Though I do not understand all that is happening, I trust the Lord to lead and guide me one step at a time.”
We hope the Lord hears Fatoyinbo’s prayer. But it is worth-noting that this is not the first time Fatoyinbo is embroiled in sex scandal. In 2013, a blogger identified as Ese Walter boldly came out to accuse Pastor Fatoyinbo of having an intimate affair with her, dating years back while she was in England. Ese, who was also a member of the church, said the relationship was consensual but said she spoke out as a matter of conscience after feeling defiled and raped. As if that was not bad enough, another lady also accused Pastor Fatoyinbo of having an intimate relationship. Surprisingly, Pastor Fatoyinbo did not contradict the claims which went viral on social media. Rather, he derisively shrugged them off and ignored the entire buzz it generated, but his silence was deafening.
Several Ministers of the gospel or Men of God as they are now popularly called have been involved in sex scandals. This, naturally, has raised certain posers, not the least of which is the issue of character and integrity amongst the men of God, who are supposed to be role models to their congregation and society. Expectedly, there is growing public concern as to what is happening, as the phenomenon of men of God getting enmeshed in immoral acts with women is increasing in frequency. The standing view is that these things happen on a daily basis, just that many are covered up before the public gets wind of them. The question then becomes: why are men of God finding it hard restraining their libido? How can they avoid temptation and concentrate solely on the job God has called them to do? Men of God are humans; they are susceptible to trials and temptations and sometimes succumb, just like every human. However, it takes discipline and principles to resist temptation especially from women who are hell bent and determined to seduce you.
In point of fact though, no one is above scandals, not even pastors. Besides Fatoyinbo, many Nigerian pastors have at different times been involved in sex scandals or accused of engaging in illicit affairs. The list is long and endless. Before Fatoyinbo, the scandal involving the founder and General Overseer of Omega Fire Ministries, Apostle Johnson Suleiman and a Canadian-based singer Stephanie Otobo sent social media into frenzy after Ms. Otobo claimed Apostle Suleiman impregnated and dumped her. She alleged they had an intimate relationship and recounted several instances in hotels where they had sexual intercourse and indulged in other carnal eccentricities. Apostle Suleiman denied the allegations, claiming he’s never met Ms. Otobo even though evidence suggests the pregnancy issue was discussed during a 2016 encounter.
Before Apostle Suleiman, Pastor Chukwuma Nkwocha, General Overseer of Tongue of Fire Restoration Ministry, was arrested in 2016 for allegedly camping and defiling about 30 under-aged girls. Acting on a tip-off from a whistleblower, police raided Nkwocha’s church on Jacob Taiwo Street Oshodi, Lagos where he was hosting his hellfire party. In 2016, Pastor Sunday Adelaja, founder and senior pastor of the Embassy of God, an evangelical-charismatic megachurch in Ukraine was enmeshed in scandal following allegations of extramarital affairs with at least 20 women in his church. Adelaja denied the allegations claiming it was an attempt by detractors to kick him out and take over the church he founded. In 2014, reports surfaced that Ofuche Ukoha aka Dr. Sign Fireman, General Overseer of Perfect Christianity Mission, Lagos, was involved in an alleged sexual assault and killing of a 12-year-old girl. The incident put him on the spotlight and tarnished his image and that of his ministry.
It was a bombshell when reports emerged in 2014 that the founder of Believers Love World Ministry aka Christ Embassy, Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and his wife, Anita Oyakhilome, were getting divorced. Anita who filed for divorce cited irreconcilable differences bordering on adultery and unreasonable behavior. However, Pastor Chris denied any wrongdoing and blamed his wife’s decision on “bad influence from bad friends” out to criminalize his private life and scandalize his name and destroy his marriage. Soon after the divorce saga, Chris’ brother, Pastor Ken was alleged to have impregnated a married woman who was a member of the Church in Randburg, headquarters of Christ Embassy, South Africa. His affair with the lady was an open secret and when news of the pregnancy started making the rounds, Christ Embassy officials aborted the pregnancy, and Pastor Ken was unceremoniously transferred to Houston, Texas, USA to prevent a major scandal.
All these sex scandals are lamentable, because they are self-inflicted disasters. But is it really possible for men of God to overcome every kind of temptation, which they face almost daily owing to their exposure to all kinds of people? There are many out there who call themselves men of God but they commit more sin than people who don’t even go to church. There are so many lecherous sexual predator pastors as there are immoral women and Jezebels whose sole purpose is to seduce and bring down men of God.
One sure way to guard against these temptations is to live a life of rectitude and submit to the Holy Spirit, in order to free the soul from the desires of the flesh. This entails spending quality time with God; praying and studying the Bible, because an idle mind is the devil’s workshop.
Men of God must be professional and set boundaries with their followers and respect them. Every man of God is human, but they should do their best to avoid being alone with women. Some women will go the distance to seduce men, therefore as a matter of principle; men of God should avoid meeting and counseling women alone. You can’t avoid everything, but the ones you can, try to avoid them. Besides, men of God should live by example by having a harmonious matrimonial relationship. Many pastors have built their ministries at the expense of their families and tend to ignore their matrimonial obligations. Some men of God have very mechanical relationship with their wives, which expose them to sexual temptations. It is most difficult if the women are determined. If it is a plan, prayer can expose it. Fornication or adultery is a spirit, which can be overcome, when you’re filled with the Holy Spirit. If you are filled with the Spirit, no matter how many ladies are knocking at the door of your office, nothing will happen. But no amount of prayer can make up for physical and emotional vacuity.
Dealing with the Holy Spirit in prayer is a continuous process and when a man of God feels he or she has arrived and develops a big ego; or is carried away by the material trappings of his ministry; that signals the beginning of the fall from grace. Falling from grace is a gradual process, and a good example is Sampson in the Bible, a man of God consumed by his own desires that took over his flesh and separated him from God, until he repented. Some of these temptation, God will allow for a purpose. The ones that God doesn’t allow can be passed over by His grace. Jesus Christ said: “Let this cup pass over me…” The Bible says with God, all things are possible.
There will always be sex scandals but men of God can avoid this embarrassing situation that damages their ministries and tarnishes the image of the church, by recommitting themselves to the vocation of their calling. When a Man of God creates a lacuna in his life, the devil will sneak in. Men of God must therefore strive, in their private thoughts and public actions to lead credible lives both before God and man. We hope Pastor Fatoyinbo finds peace in his sabbatical as he recommits himself to God’s mission.
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