Nothing will change our loyalty to T.B. Joshua – SCOAN Worshippers

In the early hours of Monday, January 8, the British Broadcasting Corporation released a three-part documentary where former disciples of the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, the late Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, popularly known as TB Joshua, accused the deceased prophet of various forms of physical abuse, manipulation, and performing fake miracles.

They had also accused him of allegedly raping women, and orchestrating forced abortions in the church.

Even before his death at the age of 57 in June 2021, two months after he was said to have suffered a stroke, the prophet had been plagued with many controversies.

The former disciples, in the three-part documentary which lasted for over 50 minutes each, also accused the prophet of covering up the real reason behind the collapse of the church’s guest house in 2014. Official data pegs those killed in the collapse at 116 of which 84 persons were said to be South Africans.

But despite the damning revelations by the late cleric’s former disciples from different nationalities including South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Nigeria, followers of the prophet seem unperturbed by the accusations.

Business as usual

Contrary to the reactions the BBC documentary generated on social media platforms over the allegations, the Ikotun-Egbe area of Lagos State where the church is located buzzed with commercial activities. People went about their businesses as though they were unaware of the controversies that have trailed the man even three years after his death.

The different shops opposite the church selling different items like clothes, and drinks operated like nothing had happened. Music blared from a restaurant close to the church as some men walked in to have some bottles of beer to quench their thirst occasioned by the heat wave that followed a brief rain.

Also, a betting shop was packed full of young men. Nothing seemed off in the area. For residents of the area, it was life as usual.

Large photos of the late prophet and his wife were seen on T. B. Joshua Street which leads into the church.

Although services were only held on Sundays in the church, adherents of the late prophet’s doctrine were allowed to pray on the church street while the church itself remained locked.

Our correspondent saw some of the worshippers praying in front of the late cleric’s photos. While some were seen praying loudly on the street without their footwear, others were seen touching the faces of the deceased prophet and his wife displayed in a large banner on the street before beginning their prayers.

Only church workers were seen going in and out of the church.

There are two types of workers in the church: disciples, who worked directly with the late prophet and also lived in the church, and other workers employed to discharge responsibilities in different departments like sanitation, medicals, and food, among others.

A former worker, who did not want to be named, told our correspondent a weekly workers’ service was held every Tuesday.

In 2021, the church disclosed in a publication on its website that it received over 50,000 visitors weekly in the once-a-week church service that was held only on Sundays in its expansive church premises.

This was also corroborated by data released by the Nigeria Immigration Service which indicated that six out of every 10 foreign travellers who came into Nigeria were SCOAN-bound.

Also in 2018, a tourism expert, Gbenga Onitilo, during the Nigeria Travel Week, disclosed that “SCOAN in Ikotun receives the highest number of tourists in Nigeria. It is a city on its own.”

Our correspondent also gathered that the church offers accommodation to worshippers inside the church but at competitive rates in dollars which covers seven days, two meals a day, and other amenities.

Depending on the type of accommodation, the fees for a seven-day stay range between $800 for shared bunks and $4,000 for a five-star standard room. The VIP rooms at SCOAN cost between $12,000 to $15,000 per week, an online resource, destinali.com, revealed.

When our correspondent arrived in the area in the afternoon on Wednesday, the reporter was accosted by a man identified as Uche and his wife, who had assumed that our correspondent had come to stay for the week to attend the church’s service.

Beside him were others actively looking out for people who came to worship at the church but could not afford expensive hotel accommodations. Checks showed that hotels in the area cost around N15,000 per night.

The dark-skinned middle-aged man, who had apparently drunk alcohol from the smell of his breath, told our correspondent that nothing had changed since the BBC documentary was published as people still flooded the area searching for solutions to their problems at the church.

Our correspondent was taken to a hostel accommodation with bunk beds for six persons in a poorly aired and barely lit room at the rate of N2,000 per night.

Inside the room was another lady, Janet, who came from Abuja and had spent two weeks in the hostel in search of a miracle and said she was still hopeful for one.

Sharing her opinion in light of the recent allegations she said she was unmoved.

 “That’s how it usually is, even right from when the ministry started. Just forget about what they are saying. Whether good or bad, anything social media, I don’t believe. Don’t be discouraged,” Jane told our correspondent thinking she was talking to a potential convert.

She added that she was committed to the church and followed it.

“I always follow them on Emmanuel TV. We only do services on Sundays, before then, if you want to pray you walk around the church premises and pray.”

As correspondent from Punch was about to leave the room, another worshipper arrived from the North to take part in the church’s activity.

However, Uche advised the correspondent to make her reservation early, warning that all the cheap accommodations close to the church would be fully booked before Sunday.

The President of Pilgrims Hostels Association of Nigeria, Ikotun, Adedayo Adekanbi, told the correspondent that though patronage had been low since the death of the SCOAN founder, the allegations against the late cleric would only cause curious people and worshippers to flood the area in no time.

He said, “Since T. B. Joshua died, things have been very slow but the wife is trying. People are still lodging but it is not like it used to be when the man of God was alive.”

“Although there is no programme currently going on in the church now when the general overseer announces any programme, you will see people trooping out en masse to attend.”

Culled from Punch