•CAN awaits outcome of investigation
Kingsley Nwezeh and Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The Senior Pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, has finally bowed to pressure to step aside from the pulpit to pave the way for the investigation of allegation of rape made against him by Mrs. Bisola Dakolo.
He announced his decision in a statement yesterday just as the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) said it awaited the outcome of investigation launched by the Pentecostal Bloc of the association before reaching a decision on the matter.
The rape allegation, which triggered a nationwide outrage and led to protests on Sunday in Abuja and Lagos, has, however, prompted the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Police Command to raise security alert level in a bid to forestall any breakdown of law and order in the nation’s capital.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, FCT Command, Mr. Bala Ciroma, yesterday reiterated his earlier statement that there was no formal complaint against the COZA pastor.
Fatoyinbo’s decision to stand down followed Sunday’s massive protests, held at the Lagos branch and Abuja headquarters of the church, organised by concerned Nigerians and human rights groups.
The groups demanded the immediate resignation of the pastor as well as police investigation of the allegation.
Fatoyinbo, in the statement yesterday, said his decision to step aside was based on the advice of his elders.
He was accused by Bisola, a former member of his church and wife of a Nigerian musician, Mr. Timi Dakolo, of raping her when she was 16 years old.
In the statement, Fatoyinbo said: “I have taken time to pray and seek spiritual counsel from Christian leaders around the world, who feel very concerned about the ongoing reports in the media.
“I have solicited their guidance on actions I should take that is honouring to our Lord Jesus Christ and the work He has called me to do.
“Drawing from their counsel and that of the leadership of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly and owing to my love for God’s work and the sacred honour of my calling, I have decided to take a leave of absence from the pulpit of the church.
“This step enables me to submit to the concerns of my spiritual mentors as they consider all the issues that have been raised against me.
“Though I do not understand all that is happening, I trust the Lord to lead and guide me one step at a time.”
The leadership of CAN has, however, said it is awaiting the outcome of the investigation being carried out by the Pentecostal bloc of the association on the allegation against Fatoyinbo before it could make further pronouncements.
THISDAY gathered from sources at CAN that due to the sensitive nature of the allegation against the pastor, it has directed that proper investigation be carried out to ascertain the truth.
Meanwhile, the police have raised the security alert level in the FCT to forestall a breakdown of law and order arising from possible clashes between opponents and supporters of Fatoyinbo.
The FCT police commissioner said the command had deployed policemen in all the entry points to Abuja as well as potential flashpoints.
“We have deployed our men in all the entry points to the city and we are ready for any eventuality. Our men are everywhere and we are focused on maintaining law and order,” he said.
He also said the police were yet to receive any formal complaint against Fatoyinbo for them to act on.
Ciroma stated: “They want to drag the police into this by all means but as an institution, we can only act on a formal complaint. We need that and we need to have witnesses to push such a case.
“If they (the church) have resolved it; that is okay. We are interested in maintaining law and order. Our men are everywhere to ensure the peace in the nation’s capital.”