Joshua raped, tortured members – BBC investigation

No fewer than 25 people have given eyewitness accounts bordering on allegations of sexual assault, physical abuse, fake miracles and trauma – allegedly suffered at the hands of the late Nigerian pastor, Temitope Joshua, aka T B. Joshua, the BBC reported on Monday.

Joshua, one of the most influential religious leaders and richest pastors in Africa, had the world at his feet throughout his life.

He is the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, a 12-storey building located in the Ikotun area of ​​Lagos State, where he lives together with many of his followers.

Joshua was popular for his miracles – which “delivered” people – followers and visitors – from all kinds of ailments, ranging from cancer and HIV/AIDS to chronic migraines and blindness.

The healings performed by Joshua attracted the attention of a wide global audience among evangelical churches throughout Europe and Africa in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Many of his followers were attracted by his philanthropy, but most came for his so-called miracles.

PUNCH Online reports that the cleric, born in 1963, died on Saturday, June 5, 2021, a week before his 58th birthday.

The cause of his death was not disclosed.

However, a statement from the church said that the cleric spent his last moment on earth in the service of God.

However, the BBC said it carried out a two-year investigation in collaboration with international media platform Open Democracy, involving more than 15 BBC journalists on three continents.

The report said former insiders estimated Joshua made tens of millions of dollars from pilgrims and other cash flows — fundraisers, video sales and overseas stadium appearances.

The investigation centered around allegations of sexual abuse, physical abuse, solitary confinement and false miracles, among others.

“More than 25 eyewitnesses and alleged victims from the UK, Nigeria, Ghana, the US, South Africa and Germany have provided accounts of what was inside Joshua’s compound, with the most recent experiences in 2019.

“Testimonies from dozens of survivors suggest that Joshua abused and raped young women from around the world several times a week for almost 20 years,” the report noted.

One of the victims who was part of the “disciples,” an elite group of followers who served and lived with Joshua in his compound; 21-year-old British woman Rae spoke about her experience.

At the time, she was studying graphic design at a university in Brighton, UK in 2002.

A close friend of Ray’s, Carla, recalled how the two traveled to Nigeria in search of a mysterious man who could heal people with his hands. He was a Christian pastor, with a black beard, in white clothes. His name was TB Joshua. His followers called him “The Prophet”.

Ray and Carla planned to visit his church, The SCOAN, for just one week. But Ray never came home. She had moved into Joshua’s compound.

“I left her there,” Carla says, tears flowing freely. “I will never forgive myself for this.

“For me, it was like she died, but I couldn’t grieve her,” Carla revealed.

Rae, in her narrative, stated that she was gay and believed that healing from Joshua would resolve her predicament.

She told: “I was gay and I didn’t want to be,” she says. “I thought, ‘Well, maybe this is the answer to my problems.’ Maybe this guy can set me straight. Like, if he prays for me, I won’t be gay anymore.

Ray described the moment he stepped into the synagogue, saying, “I had a really involuntary reaction. I just burst into tears.”

She stated that it was at this point that Joshua chose her to become his “disciple”.

She thought the priest would “cure” her sexuality and study under him, but according to her imagination, her thought never materialized.

“We all thought we were in heaven, but we were in hell,” adding: “And in hell, terrible things happen.”

Ray described how she experienced psychological trauma for two years, during which she was banned from leaving the compound and no one inside was allowed to speak to her, adding that she had tried to kill herself five times.

Many of the victims said this happened frequently – up to two to four times a week – during their stay at the complex. Some described violent rapes that left them struggling to breathe or bleeding.

Many believed that only they were attacked and did not dare to share what was happening to them with the other students, as they were all encouraged to report each other.

Ray noted that it is “extremely difficult to understand how someone could go through psychological abuse to such an extent that they lose their critical thinking.”

“I was basically in total isolation… I had a complete breakdown. I tried to kill myself five times,” she said.

After spending 12 years at Joshua’s compound, Ray returned to England.

She had slipped away from the disciples while traveling with the church on tour in Mexico, saying: “He made a huge mistake, he lost control of me.”

Ray said it wasn’t until after she left that she realized her family and friends had been emailing her. She had never received them.

“I look normal on the outside, but I’m not. This story is like a horror story. It’s like something you see in fiction, but it’s true,” Ray said as she recalled the tragic trauma and the impact it had on her.

She expressed her disappointment that Joshua did not wait to face the consequences of the atrocities he committed before his death.

“TB Joshua dying before facing justice for the atrocities he committed was deeply disappointing. This only adds to the gross sense of injustice felt by all of us as his victims,” she noted.

The BBC said it had contacted The SCOAN with the allegations in the investigation. They did not respond to them but denied previous allegations against Joshua.

“Making baseless accusations against Prophet TB Joshua is not a new phenomenon…None of the accusations have ever been substantiated,” the church said.

The BBC said previous followers had tried to speak out about abuse but said they were silenced or discredited by the SCOAN, while two said they were physically assaulted.

When the BBC’s Africa Eye filmed outside the church, a security guard fired over the crew’s heads after they refused to hand over their footage, the report noted.

A Nigerian woman, Bisola, who was also a “follower”, claimed that she was repeatedly raped by the late cleric.

Bisola, who spent 14 years at the compound, added that she was asked to recruit virgin girls into the students’ herd under threats of violence.

“T.B. Joshua asked me to recruit virgins for him… So that he can bring them into the disciples’ flock and devirginize them,” she revealed.

Bisola told the BBC that courting Westerners was a key tactic used by Joshua

“He’s using white people to promote his brand,” she said.

The report said many of the young people who left their home countries to meet Joshua in the early 2000s had not paid for their tickets.

It added that church groups in England raised funds to send pilgrims to Lagos to witness these miracles – and Joshua himself contributed money from the Scoan, senior former church officials said.

Later, after the church was well established, Joshua charged high prices for pilgrims to come and stay.

A journalist in Namibia, Jessica Kaymu, said she was raped by Joshua at the age of 17 in the bathroom of his penthouse, weeks after she became a follower.

She claimed Joshua was unfazed by her screams, saying: “I was screaming and he was whispering in my ear that I should stop acting like a baby… I was so traumatized I couldn’t cry.”

Kaymu noted that she was raped for five years throughout her time as a student.

A woman, who requested anonymity, said it happened to her twice before she was 15 years old.

“It was so painful, he raped me. Words cannot express it properly. It scarred me for life,” she said.

The report noted that there were accounts from four of the men, Joshua’s personal servants, who were tasked with cleaning up the physical evidence of this abuse.

“We had never… seen anything like this before,” said a journalist who covers African religion, Solomon Ashoms, adding: “The mysteries it had, the secrets it carried, [were] what people followed.

Another victim, Victoria (not her real name), said she spent more than five years at the compound, adding that some victims were often hand-picked by Joshua from the church congregation.

Speaking about her ordeal, Victoria said she was picked on while attending the church’s Sunday school and says she was raped in Joshua’s private quarters a few months later after her parents entrusted her to his care .

She was later appointed as a resident student.

Victoria said Joshua had ordered some of his most trusted Nigerian students to help identify new victims, identifying the group informally known as the “fishing department”.

A former South African schoolgirl, Sihle, said she had three forced abortions at the church.

Sihle said: “They give you a mixture to drink and you get sick. Or they put these metal pieces in your vagina and pull out whatever. And you don’t know if they are [accidentally] pulling out your womb.

The inquest report noted that the students attended to Joshua’s every need, from massages to helping him get dressed and spraying him with perfume when he entered the room.

They also put plastic gloves on his hands so he could eat his food without touching a crumb.

A man once considered Joshua’s number two in the church, Agomo Paul, who left after 10 years in the compound, revealed that the whole miracle was scripted.

“This person [was] genius. everything… [he did was] planned,” Paul said.

A major part of this planning was faking the “miracles,” Pavel said, that he noted he observed.

He and other sources say that the “cured” were often paid to act out or exaggerate their symptoms before their supposed healing took place.

In some cases, they say, people were unknowingly sedated or given drugs to improve their condition while in the church and later persuaded to testify about their recovery. Others were falsely told that they had tested positive for HIV/AIDS and that thanks to Joshua’s ministry they were now free of the virus.

Paul also noted that Joshua “wanted to control everyone, everything. What was he really fighting for? [was] the control over people’s minds.”

The students said they were made to work, without pay, for long hours every day – running all aspects of the megachurch. All said sleep deprivation was routine, with lights left on in bedrooms at night, the report said.

The church, which still operates today, is led by his widow, Evelyn.

During his lifetime, Joshua attracted dozens of politicians and celebrities to his church.

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