Following rape allegations brought against Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) minister, Biodun Fatoyinbo, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) has made a decision to investigate all claims against the pastor. This is the first time in the history of the body that this has been done.
In a letter sent to Timi Dakolo last week, the Christian umbrella body communicated that it has constituted a committee to look into circumstances surrounding the heart-wrenching allegations made against the pastor by photographer and mother of two, Busola Dakolo.
The committee which has Rev. Wilson Badejo as Chairman, with Bishop Vincent Iyawe and Rev. Collins Ilechukwu as members, is tasked with the responsibility to establish the veracity of the claims and recommend appropriate sanctions where necessary.
In light of this, advocacy group, Not In My Church, which has helped to share the viral stories of survivors and kickstart a national conversation, encourages all those who have suffered the same fate by the COZA minister to speak up and share their stories while offering them access to professional counselling.
It is expected that beyond this committee, PFN and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) will have a publicly accessible Code of Conduct and a standing committee to review issues of abuse of power leading to different types of abuse in the church. The organization has further made a formal petition the PFN to implement certain strong measures that send a clear signal to the church and to society about the seriousness of sexual violence, and the actions the church will not tolerate under any condition.
Not In My Church’s demands include the following:
i. The accused steps down from the pulpit for 6 months – 5 years, depending on the gravity of the offence, during which he cannot preach on any other pulpit, or until a conclusion of a legal process.
ii. The accused and their spouse take a leave of absence from the Board of Trustees of the church for as long as they are off the pulpit.
iii. The accused apologizes publicly – specifically to those whose allegations are in the public domain and generally to others that have been sexually abused or otherwise by virtue of their position as a pastor.
iv. The accused enrols in a sexual abuse programme at a globally reputed centre.
v. Sufficient monetary compensation for psychological, medical, legal and economic losses accrued to survivors.
It is expected that beyond this panel, PFN and the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) will have a publicly accessible Code of Conduct and a standing committee to review issues of abuse of power leading to different types of abuse in the church.
Victims of rape, especially in religious organizations, can reach out to the organization for help and support through its website,www.notinmychurch.ng