The head pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly Church, COZA, in Abuja, Nigeria, has stepped down after intense pressure and calls to do so from pressure groups and prominent Nigerians.
The flamboyant Biodun Fatoyinbo was accused of raping Busola Dakolo, the wife of popular Nigerian musician Timi Dakolo. Busola, a celebrity photographer accused the COZA head pastor of raping her in 2001 when she was a teenager. According to her, this incident happened twice.
In an interview with a local web portal YNaija, Busola explained that she used to live in Ilorin – in the South West of Nigeria – with her family. She had gone home for the holiday when she was introduced and convinced to join a new church gathering by her sisters.
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Busola explained that she had gotten close to Pastor Biodun and he became like a mentor and a father figure whom she trusted. She claimed that he came to her house one Monday morning and did not utter a word but just pushed her to one of the chairs around.
“Immediately I opened the door, he just pushed me. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t utter any word. He just pushed me to one of the chairs in the living room and I saw him removing his belt. I was like what…? He said ‘keep quiet, do what I want you to do and you’ll be fine’,” Busola said. She further explained that when she tried to react, he covered her mouth and had his way. She even added that he tried to force his way several times and blood even dropped on the floor.
Mrs Dakolo is the second-high profile person after Ese Walter to accuse Fatoyinbo of rape. Social media mounted pressure on Pastor Biodun who announced his resignation from the pulpit. He said in a statement posted on Instagram that he was taking “leave of absence from the pulpit” because it was the “right thing to do”.
His decision follows a new #MeToo movement on social media with people sharing stories of sexual assault and calling for justice.
The story of Busola caught the public attention and people responded with outrage on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #MeToo, #ChurchToo and #SayNoToRape, in what activists say could be the start of Nigeria’s first major movement against sex abuse.
Musician Timi Dakolo has shown support to his wife throughout the ordeal.
Hundreds of people protested on Sunday in major cities of Abuja and Lagos. Dakolo’s husband, Timi Dakolo, posted an image on Instagram saying protests were planned for seven days.
Despite the allegations, Pastor Biodun still maintains that he didn’t rape Mrs Dakolo and has threatened to take the issue to court. In a post on Instagram, he said that the accusation was “fallacious, non-existent”. “I have never raped before, not even as an unbeliever,” he added.
Meanwhile, the embattled pastor is also enjoying growing support on social media.