The Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) had two special guests at yesterday’s Sunday service.
The first was Reverend Dr. Jonah Samson, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) FCT chapter. The second was Reverend Dr. Israel Akanji, the chairman, CAN North Central.
The presence of both pastors comes just two weeks after Biodun Fatoyinbo, the head pastor of COZA was forced to take a ‘leave of absence’ after two decades of accusations of sexual misconduct, sexual assault, coercion and rape.
This is the first time CAN is actively aligning itself with the church, a worrying development considering the public demand for pastor Fatoyinbo to answer for the accusations against him only began to produce results.
Reverend Dr. Israel Akanji, the acting chairman of the Baptist convention and the North Central chairman of CAN, was a former chairman of the FCT arm of the organization and served in the role for 6 years, a time during which the Ese Walter accusations first surfaced.
The CAN in the FCT and the North Central zone declined to either investigate the accusations at the time or reprimand Pastor Fatoyinbo, claiming then that Fatoyinbo’s church was not officially a part of the association and as such was not under their jurisdiction.
This was a sentiment that was reiterated on the 3rd of July 2019 in a statement by Barrister Kwamkur Samuel Vondip, CAN’s national director, legal and public affairs.
The Christian body made its position known on Wednesday in a statement signed by its National Director, Legal and Public Affairs, Barrister Kwamkur Samuel Vondip and made available to journalists in Jos.
The statement said, “The Christian Association of Nigeria is deeply concerned about the ongoing rape allegation saga arising from a confessional statement by a former female member of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, Mrs Bisola Dakolo against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, the Senior Pastor of COZA.
The association recognises that COZA, to the best of our knowledge, is not a member of any of the families that belong to CAN. CAN, as an association, is equally sad that there have been recurrent allegations of rape and infidelity against some gospel ministers and other Christians as well.
Drs. Israel Akanji and Jonah Samson’s actions contradict the directive given by the national body, and their invitation to last Sunday’s COZA service was not publicized prior, out of character for COZA, which is often quite forward with information when guest pastors like T.D Jakes and Creflo Dollar are invited to the church to speak to its congregation.
Both pastors also showed public support for pastor Fatoyinbo, with Jonah Samson directly referencing the accusations against Fatoyinbo and dismissing them, declaring the ‘gates of hell shall not prevail’ against him.
Akanji was more diplomatic, using the christian parable of the good Samaritan to excuse CAN FCT, and North Central’s presence at COZA and support for Fatoyinbo.
Fatoyinbo who was present at the service, in spite of his ‘leave of absence’ soaked it all in.
The question remains, who is the victim; the women who have come forward at great personal detriment to speak about the sexual misconduct and rape they suffered, or the rich and influential pastor who seems immune to any reprimands.
Where is CAN’s public support for the alleged victims within its congregations?
See a video of the the address by both reverends here.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.
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