THE social landscape has not been the same since Busola, wife of popular singer Timi Dakolo, made public the allegation that she was raped by the founder of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, when she was only 16 years old.
Also polarised by the resultant feud is the circle of Nigerians celebrities, many of who have voiced support for Busola while a few others are standing with Fatoyinbo in their belief that he should be given a chance to prove his innocence. Busola, a celebrity photographer, had revealed in an interview that went viral recently that she was repeatedly raped by the embattled clergyman at her parents’ palatial home.
“My mum had travelled with my sister, and it was just my other sister in the house. The house was so big that if you were upstairs, you would not know what is happening downstairs,” she said.
Busola said Fatoyinbo, whose church member she was at the time of the alleged rape, sexually abused her on another occasion before she left the church.
But Fatoyinbo vehemently denied the allegations, saying he had never raped a woman even before he became a clergyman. He said the allegations were fabricated to ruin his reputation and the church he founded. The clergyman also vowed to press charges against Busola and her husband for defaming him unjustly.
He said among other things: “I have never in my life raped anybody even as an unbeliever, and I am absolutely innocent of this.” The embattled clergyman later stepped aside as presiding pastor on the heels of the protests trailing the allegations, with outraged Nigerians asking him to stop presiding over his church.
The matter got a new twist to it recently with the alleged invasion of Dakolo’s residence by the police in an alleged bid to arrest the couple; a claim the police have since denied, saying that the couple were only invited and there was no plan to arrest them.
Aisha Buhari reacts
Reacting to the development, Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, subtly cautioned the police, telling the Inspector General of Police to say no to rape.
“ATTENTION: INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE #SayNoToRape #JusticeForRapeVictims #SayNoToIntimidation,” she tweeted.
Backing the First Lady’s position on the matter, the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Mrs Abike Dabiri-Erewa tweeted: “Fully supported. #SayNotoRape. “We hope not true that Police intimidating the Dakolos. I believe in you @PoliceNG. Pls don’t let us down. One of the reasons victims of Rape keep quiet. This is the tipping point!! Not anymore.
“Thank you @aishambuhari for your leadership in this.
Former Minister of Education, Dr Oby Ezekwesili, queried the alleged invasion of the Dakolos’ residence by armed policemen to invite the couple for clarification on their petition to the police authorities.
Writing on her Twitter Page, Ezekwesili queried why the police operation ‘appeared extremely intimidating.’
She wrote: “Just catching up on this & seeing those pictures of the Dakolo’s report of your ‘invitation’ makes this your statement quite curious @PoliceNG. Did not seem your officers executed a “regular police invitation.”
“That operation appeared extremely intimidating. Why? Explain this.”
Ezekwesili had previously twitted the first time the story broke: “I have just read @YNaija interview with Mrs Busola Dakolo on her former pastor, Pastor Fatoyinbo of COZA. What I read is too horrific an experience. I pray Healing. R@pe is a scourge we must all fight. I’d advise the pastor to quickly respond to her weighty charges. Quickly.”
Foremost television hostess, Funmi Iyanda, said she believed Busola’s rape story. She commended her for revealing her horrible experience, adding that the clergyman should be made to face the wrath of the law.
”I believe Busola Dakolo. Every word she uttered. There are many layers of power, politics, manipulation, and crime woven through her brave revelations. I expect that Pastor Biodun will go to jail or whatever the equivalent of that is in Nigeria now,” she said.
Top comedian Alibaba noted that the case would have been different if it was about members of the church and not a pastor.
In a post on his Instagram page, Alibaba wrote: “When it comes to preaching against what members of the congregations are doing wrong, it’s in Vol 1, 2 and 3.
“Fornication, smoking, indecent dressing, drinking, night clubbing, polygamy, divorce, robbery, domestic violence, terrorism, being stingy, racism, corruption, greed, homosexuality, adultery, mixing with bad gang.
“But touch not the Lord’s anointed and do my profits no harm.”
Demanding justice in the matter, social media influencer cum on air personality, Toke Makinwa, said: “This is our sister. Let us lift her up in the light. All I see is a strong, black woman who beat the odds to survive the horror and nightmare of abuse.
“I am so sorry you had to go through this, I am so sorry babe. Thank you for speaking out. Thank you for unlocking the door for others to do the same. Your Pain is not in vain. Your pain will break the chains for other people who are in the dark. Well done.
“You are beautiful. I applaud your courage. I salute you for doing this. Guys, please let us come together and love on her. Let us lift her up in love and stand by her. Let us stand in her shoes and speak out against injustice.
“Let the perpetrator face the law. Lawyers in the building, let’s do this right. To watch your abuser daily go on unrepentant is the worst thing that anyone can imagine and @busoladakolo needs justice. Let the system work this time. God will mend your broken heart.”
The reactions include that of famed music producer and Marvin Records boss, Don Jazzy, who saluted Busola’s courage at speaking out on sexual violations meted out to her as a teenager.
”Thank you for being a voice for the many women that don’t have the courage to speak out yet. It is important we let our mothers, sisters, daughters know that you cannot be bullied for speaking the truth,” he said.
Another popular singer, Bankole Wellington a.k.a. Banky W said: ”This was so hard to watch. I am so sorry you went through this nightmare. But I am SOOOO PROUD of you for sharing your truth.
“You didn’t speak up for yourself alone, but for all the voiceless victims who have suffered similar horrors at the hands of predators. Sending love, light and support your way. We are standing by you and @timidakolo.
“God bless, protect and strengthen you. Stay strong. You are incredible.
Renowned broadcaster, Daddy Freeze, said: ”I will never undermine a woman’s pain and how she seeks her redress. In truth, it hurts deeply. However, there is a question on my mind…….as Christians, is there any room for forgiveness in issues like these? God will heal your soul and protect you.
”Dear @timidakolo God bless you for standing and speaking out even when you faced heavy criticism. Thank you for being strong for your other half. This hurts so much, so, so, much, and I pray we get justice.
“We cannot let this slide. Let’s not stop at talking on social media. Let us use our network to get every victim the justice they deserve. If we don’t fight now, we have failed all the victims. We have silenced the voices that need to be heard too. cc @opetodolapo.”
A former aide to ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, Reno Omokri, described Busola’s rape allegations against Fatoyinbo as false.
Omokri wrote on his Twitter handle: ”The average black African is easily moved to hysteria by excitable emotions. This is why it is RIDICULOUSLY easy to manipulate Africans with the media. Satan does his best work with such people, who can’t suppress emotion in preference to logic.
“Think. Don’t emote. A pastor comes to your house early in the morning. He does not know who will open when he knocks, or who is at home. He knocks, and immediately you open, he pushed you to a chair and raped you in your pyjamas. Do people think?
“Even the most USELESS movie director won’t accept such a plot in a B rated Hollywood/Nollywood/Bollywood movie. A movie has to have plausibility. I don’t like pastor Fatoyinbo, but I won’t suspend my intellect because of my dislike of the fellow.
“After he allegedly raped her, she kept quiet for enough time for him to go to his car and get a soda drink for her? It does not add up. My dislike for Biodun Fatoyinbo won’t make me become a SLANDERER by default. This story rings very FALSE.” Also, the leadership of the Abuja chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and its North Central zonal leaders openly backed Fatoyinbo during a recent solidarity visit to COZA branch in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
A new video has surfaced online, where some representatives of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) visited the Abuja branch of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) during a church service.
Speaking during the visit, the president of CAN Abuja, Reverend Jonah Samson, and CAN President North Central, Reverend Israel Akanji, who addressed the congregation, pledged their support and prayers for Fatoyinbo and his church.
In his speech, Rev. Jonah said: “I assure you that we are with you and we will continue to be with you. We are in support of the church. We are in support of your pastor. We stand by him, and this church will continue to match forward. I declare that the gates of hell shall not prevail against this church in the mighty name of Jesus.”