The founder and pastor of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), one of the world’s biggest Christian evangelical churches in Nigeria, the late Temitope B Joshua, has been accused of sexual abuse and torture of church members, according to the British Broadcasting Corporation.
BBC’s two-year investigation uncovered cases of rape, forced abortions, and other atrocities against the late pastor, involving dozens of ex-members of the church, including five British citizens.
According to the report, physical violence, sexual assault, forced abortions as well as fake “miracle healings” were carried out by Joshua, with dozens of eyewitness accounts testifying to the menace.
The investigation showed that abuse went on at a secret Lagos location for almost 20 years.
Before he died in 2021, TB Joshua was a charismatic televangelist who had an immense global following. However, the BBC report shows a contrasting view of him with various eyewitnesses recounting their experiences in his captivity.
No fewer than 25 former “disciples” spoke to the BBC – from the UK, Nigeria, US, South Africa, Ghana, Namibia, and Germany – giving powerful corroborating stories about their experiences within the church, with the most recent experiences in 2019.
Speaking to the BBC, Rae, one of the victims said she was 21 years old when she abandoned her degree at Brighton University in 2002 and was recruited into the church where she spent her next 12 years as one of Joshua’s so-called “disciples” inside his maze-like concrete compound in Lagos.
“We all thought we were in heaven, but we were in hell, and in hell, terrible things happen,” Rae had told the BBC.
Rae said she was sexually assaulted by Joshua and subjected to a form of solitary confinement for two years. She added that the abuse was so severe that she attempted suicide multiple times inside the compound.
In her narration, Jessica Kaimu, from Namibia, told the BBC that her ordeal lasted more than five years. Kaimu said she was 17 when Joshua first raped her, and that subsequent instances of rape by TB Joshua led to her having five forced abortions while there.
“These were backdoor type… medical treatments that we were going through… it could have killed us,” Kaimu had told the BBC.
While Rae compared her experiences to being in a cult, other interviewees by BBC said they were stripped and beaten with electrical cables and horse whips and routinely denied sleep.
BBC said the Synagogue Church of All Nations did not respond to the allegations but said previous claims have been unfounded.
The investigation by the BBC with international media platform Open Democracy revealed that this was the first time multiple former church insiders have come forward to speak on the record. The victims told the BBC that they had spent years trying to raise the alarm but had been silenced.