This video of CAN showing its support for Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo has left Nigerians on social media pulling their hair out in palpable rage.
Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth Zion Assembly (COZA) who has been mentioned in a string of rape allegations and sexcapades, has been lent a hand of support and something resembling a ringing endorsement from the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Celebrity photographer, Busola Dakolo, had accused Fatoyinbo of sexually assaulting her twice in quick succession long before she clocked the nation's age of consent.
Mrs Dakolo’s family was close friends with the pastor and the church when the incidents occurred, she said.
“No one ignores me. You should be happy that a man of God did this to you”, Dakolo would quote Fatoyinbo as saying after he allegedly raped her and left her scarred for decades.
In early July, another ex-COZA member accused the debonair and hip pastor of raping her.
"He had taken off my button and my zipper was down. And then he had one hand holding me back to the couch and another hand right up in my pant. I think at that point, I pretty much just knew what was about to happen," this anonymous ex-COZA member had said.
Fatoyinbo has also been accused of using his position to sexually abuse a host of young, impressionable women, most of whom served as workers in his church at different times.
The video that has got Twitter talking
In a video posted online by Twitter user @Kingwole, Abuja representatives of CAN can be seen drumming their support for Fatoyinbo in his COZA church, as the audience applauded with every sentence.
“I assure you that we are with you and 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 march forward. I declare that the gates of hell shall not prevail against this church”, the FCT CAN Chairman thundered from the raised platform.
CAN’s north central chairman would go on to say “we are with you in prayer. The lord will bring you out even stronger. Our pastor will continue to be the voice of God. We want you to know you are not alone. You have many brothers and sisters that are praying for you.”
At the height of recent rape allegations featuring Fatoyinbo’s name, CAN said it could not jump into conclusion, preferring instead to maintain an undignified silence.
The church in Nigeria has often been accused of protecting its own and shielding accused pastors from prosecution.
A statement at the time by Pastor Adebayo Oladeji who is the Special Assistant, Media and Communications to CAN president, Rev Supo Ayokunle, said the Christian body wouldn’t be jumping into conclusions.
“The Christian Association of Nigeria, as a body, condemns any case of rape in strong terms. It doesn’t matter who is involved. It is ungodly, wicked, and reprehensible. However, on the allegations against Pastor Abiodun Fatoyinbo, we have no details about the matter other than what we are reading on the social media. This is not reliable and credible evidence enough to jump into a conclusion", CAN had said at the time.
Twitter reacts in anger
Nigeria Twitter users have been reacting to the recent show of support from CAN on the Fatoyinbo saga. You can see a couple of the tweets below:
Fatoyinbo first threatened lawsuit after Busola Dakolo went to town with her tale of events, saying “I have never in my life raped anybody even as an unbeliever and I am absolutely innocent of this”.
After protesters stormed his Lagos and Abuja churches on June 30, 2019 demanding that he stepped down from the pulpit and face prosecution, Fatoyinbo announced that he was taking a leave of absence from the altar as his wife continued to rouse the congregation to rally round her husband and show him support in his hour of public embarrassment and ridicule.
Stories of rape and sexual harassment of teenage and underage girls have been recurring staples in the Nigerian mainstream and digital media spaces in the last couple of years; as advocates continue to demand stricter punishments for convicted rapists and molesters.