Alleged Rape: Embattled COZA Pastor Cancels Upcoming Programme as Protests Gather Momentum

Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo

Senior pastor of the Commonwealth or Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo has cancelled the church’s upcoming week-long programme as protests seeking his dismissal gather momentum.

News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the event tagged ‘7DG’ which was billed to hold from July 1 to July 7 was cancelled on Sunday during the church service with protesters holding a peaceful demonstration around the premises.

The protests tagged #ChurchToo and #PastorStepDown are currently being held at COZA branches in Lagos and Abuja with participants urging the church to suspend the clergy activities of Fatoyinbo pending investigations into the alleged rape accusations.

NAN recalls that on Friday, Busola Dakolo, celebrity photographer and wife of singer, Timi Dakolo, accused Fatoyinbo of raping her at 16 in a now-viral video interview.

Dakolo detailed the events that led to the alleged rape, which she revealed happened twice in one week. The allegations caused an uproar on social media with some Nigerians calling on Fatoyinbo to respond.

NAN reports that although Fatoyinbo denied the allegations in an official response, protesters still urged him to step down as pastor of the church until the investigations are concluded.

They marched to the church premises in their numbers with placards.

In Abuja, they were met with opposition from some unnamed security agents and another group protesting in support of the pastor and the church.

The protests also have active conversations on social media with #stepdownpastor, #churchtoo and #pastorbiodunfatoyinbo among the top five trending topics on Nigerian twitter.

@martobono tweeted, “An allegation was made against the man. He used his COZA letterhead paper to respond.
“Meaning, the response was on behalf of the incorporated trustees, management and the entire members and you don’t want people to take their protests to the church? You must be MAD! #ChurchToo”

@MsLami_A wrote, “As expected, they barricaded the road leading to the church auditorium with armed forces. But we will sit here and pass our message across. #ChurchToo #MeToo #IStandWithBusolaDakolo.”

@Oluwatosingbenga said, “#COZA members in Abuja form human barricade preventing protesters from proceeding to the front of their church #stepdownpastor COZA youths blocking our protest.#ChurchToo#PastorStepDown”

Meanwhile, Fatoyinbo’s wife, Modele, also denied the allegations against him on Sunday, adding that even before becoming a pastor, he has never raped anyone.

“Not even as an unbeliever will my husband rape someone,” Mrs Fatoyinbo said during the church service broadcast. (NAN)