This time last year, Nigerians were horrified to find out that Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, spiritual head of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) was an alleged rapist. Busola Dakolo, a former member of his church has detailed her experience, and how enabled by his wife who helped him groom potential victims and a congregation that complacently ignored mounting allegations against him, Fatoyinbo had groomed then raped her. It provided a lightning rod for all the other accusations Pastor Fatoyinbo had successfully deflected over the years and allowed him thrive. But once Mrs. Dakolo’s testimony went public, it was near impossible to sweep his crimes under the rug. Or so we thought.
The Christian Association of Nigeria had other ideas. Through a suppression campaign and a rehearsed campaign of penitence, Pastor Biodun was ‘forgiven’ of crimes he refused to admit to and returned to their fold. There was no punishment, no public ostracization, no consequence for the accusations levelled against him. Almost a year later, in the thick of a national campaign sparked by the brutal rape and murder of Uwa, a 22 year old girl in Benin City, another high profile pastor Ayo Ajani of Petra Christian Centre, also based in Abuja, is being exposed for alleged sexual harassment and sexual assault of members of his congregation.
I am referring to all of you Petra Christian Centre Pastors and Members.
The ones that have decided to keep shut, knowing the truth.
— A B I G A I L (@Abby__Abbyy) June 1, 2020
— Lam Lam (@Lamimoyin) June 1, 2020
Already women are corroborating claims made against Pastor Ayo Ajani with personal accounts.
This things keeps happening over and over again. When you report to him to people who answer to him nothing would be done. That is why a lot ladies left the church without any explanations because the so called jr pastors you reported to swept it under the rug
— charell (@chariedom) June 1, 2020
At what point will women in the church ever feel safe? When will religious leaders model the piety they preach from the pulpit? When will we stop receiving accusations of sexual harassment from men who have appointed themselves as leaders and protectors.
Edwin Okolo is an author and journalist who has worked with YNaija, TheNativemag and the Naked Convos.