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COZA: Coalition of lawyers urges IGP to ensure justice

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The Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) has urged the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu to ensure justice is served in case of rape involving Mr Biodun Fatoyinbo, Senior Pastor, Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA).

The allegation necessitated the stepping down of Fatoyinbo as the Senior Pastor of the church.

However, Mr Pelumi Olajengbesi, Convener of COPA in a statement on Monday urged Adamu to ensure the matter was not swept under the carpet and that the suspect should be tried in Lagos where the matter was reported.

“Our demands are simply that the matter be allowed its due course within the jurisdiction where the complaint was filed.”

He called on the police to take urgent action on the matter that had already in the public glare without giving rooms for doubt in their ability.

He also called for the execution of a valid and active warrant of arrest against Fatoyimbo in order to restore the confidence of the ordinary Nigerians.

The COPA leader further stated that the coalition would diligently continue to monitor matters as they arise to ensure fairness and justice.

Judiciary

Court dismisses rape suit against COZA Pastor, fines Bisola Dakolo N1M

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An FCT High Court sitting in Bwari, has dismissed the rape case instituted by a socialite, Mrs Busola Dakolo, against the Senior Pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, COZA, Biodun Fatoyinbo.

The court in its judgment absolved  Pastor Fatoyinbo from the alleged rape on the grounds that the case of the plaintiff is purely sentimental and empty.

Justice Othman Musa while dismissing the rape suit awarded costs of N1,000,000 against Dakolo to be paid to the Pastor.

Musa held that it would have been 10 times more but resisted it because there might be other women with legitimate claims who may approach the court for justice. 

Dakolo, wife of popular artist Timi Dakolo had accused Fatoyinbo of raping her while she was a teenager.

She approached the court to demand for justice and compensation.

Precisely, Busola Dakolo accused Pastor Fatoyibi of raping her in the year 2002.

On his part, the COZA Senior Pastor filed an objection to the suit and supported it with an affidavit claiming that Busola’s statements were false and concocted to embarrass, scandalise and ridicule him.

He said in the affidavit that from the inception, the plaintiff sought the attention of the media and press and brought the civil action even while the Police investigation was ongoing.

According to Fatoyibi, her false claims were stale and an abuse of judicial process.

After parties argued their briefs, Musa held that the matter amounts to  an abuse of judicial process.

He further held that the case is purely sentimental and empty, having no concrete facts known to law and legs to stand upon.

According to the court, the case carries more of cruelty in it than justice.

Before the judgment was delivered,
Fatoyinbo had described the suit as frivolous and statute barred.

Fatoyinbo, through his lawyer, Dr Alex Izinyon, SAN, in a preliminary objection dated 20th September, 2019, said the reliefs sought by Dakolo in the suit are not grantable, which makes the suit incompetent.

Izinyon said the court lacks the jurisdiction to entertain the suit adding that the suit is frivolous and a palpable abuse of court process

In an affidavit deposed to by
Ademola Adetuberu, Executive Senior Assitant to Fatoyinbo, he said the substratum of the claimant’s suit is a mere purported allegation of emotional and psychological distress.

He further said in the affidavit that the said purported mere allegation of rape is still a subject of investigation by the Police.

Dakolo had last month approached the court to seek redress in the allegation made against pastor Fatoyinbo.

In the substantive matter, Dakolo, through her lawyer, Pelumi Olajengbesiis sought the order of the court to compel  Fatoyinbo to publish a clearly worded apology to her  on the front page of at least two (2) National Newspapers and two National Televisions for seven days running consecutively.

Plaintiff had two months ago made a shocking revelation in a detailed interview with Chude Jideonwo, a lawyer and journalist, of how the Abuja-based cleric allegedly raped her as a teenager.

She claimed that  Fatoyinbo had sexual intercourse with her on September 23 and September 26, 2002, caused her continuous emotional distress and amount to intentional infliction of emotional distress.

edited by Sadiya Hamza

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You must be investigated in spite stepping down, lawyers tell COZA Pastor

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) The Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) on Monday urged Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, to surrender himself for investigation having stepped down from the pulpit as senior pastor of the church.

Fatoyinbo had been the subject of discussion since last week after Mrs Busola Dakolo, wife of inspiration singer Timi Dakolo, accused him of raping her when she was 17 years.

He stepped down on Monday but still insisted that he had never raped anyone before, ‘not even as an unbeliever’. The allegation had elicited reactions from Nigerians, including those in the presidency.

However, Mr Pelumi Olajengbesi, Convener of COPA, in a statement on Monday commended Fatoyinbo for stepping down as senior pastor in COZA but urged him to take it a step further by reporting to the police for investigation.

“We at COPA are of the mind that while the above is a good way to start that, Mr Biodun Fatoyinbo must take a step further in the interest of addressing and assuaging public interest by reporting to the Nigeria Police Force voluntary, a truly neutral arbiter in this instance, to provide answers to public queries on the matter.

“This is in view of making sure that the results of the investigations from both the church committee and the Police, being independent sources, would satisfactorily put to rest all sundry issues generated by the intense rape allegations hanging over him.

“A man of clear conscience fears nothing and we hope that it would never come to the point where Mr Biodun Fatoyinbo is compelled beyond personal alacrity to do the needful and submit self to the Police for questioning.

“Needless to say that his status as a popular man of God and the issue of betrayal of fiduciary trust, infidelity and the crime of rape makes it imperative that no room is left for doubt to exist on his innocence of the claims against him, he said in the statement.

“Conversely, by voluntarily submitting himself to the Police for questioning, he makes a much needed statement in lieu of his claims to innocence.

“It also affords the public the opportunity to pursue further actions where it is established that he may in fact have criminal issues to answer to or not.”

Olajengbesi said that COPA would continue to monitor events as they unfold to ensure that no rights are abused, nor any process skewered to favour one party against the other in this matter.

The COPA Convener while urging the pastor not to slack in establishing his innocence, noted that where justice must be done, it must be manifestly seen to be done.  

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COZA: Comedian, Alibaba slams pastors for keeping silent over rape allegations

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) Veteran comedian and social commentator, Alibaba has called out prominent pastors for keeping mute over the rape allegations levied agaisnst Biodun Fatoyinbo, pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA).

News Agency of Nigeria reports that Fatoyinbo, who has stepped down, was accused by Busola Dakolo of raping her as a teenager causing wild outrage on and off social media.

Despite the various comments on the issue, pastors of prominent Nigerian churches are yet to speak.

Alibaba noted that the case would have been different if it was about members of the church and not a fellow pastor.

He wrote @alibabacfr on Instagram, “When it comes to preaching against what members of the congregations are doing wrong, its 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,” Alibaba said.

NAN reports that although Fatoyinbo denied the allegations, he stepped down on Monday following peaceful protests at COZA branches in Lagos and Abuja on Sunday.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi

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Breaking!!!!COZA pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo steps down

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) Biodun Fatoyinbo, the senior pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), says he has decided to step aside from the pulpit of the church.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that Fatoyinbo announced this in a statement released on Monday where he said the move was the advice of his mentors.

The statement read, “the past few days have been very sobering for me. 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 advice on actions I should take that are 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 the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly and owing to my love for God and the sacred nature 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 methods ad they consider all the issues that have been raised against me. My confidence in the Lord remains unwavering.

“Though I do not understand what is happening, I trust the Lord to lead and guide me one step at a time.

“Kindly pray for me and the congregation of COZA as we seek the face of God during these turbulent times,” Fatoyinbo wrote.

NAN reports that consistent calls had been made for Fatoyinbo to resign following the allegations by Busola Dakolo that he raped her as a teenager.

The calls trended online with the tags #PastorStepDown and #NotMyChurch and culminated into peaceful protests at COZA branches in Lagos and Abuja.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi

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COZA: Buhari’s aide, Onochie urges police to investigate Biodun Fatoyinbo

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COZA

Abuja, July 1, 2019 President Muhammadu Buhari’s Aide on Social Media, Lauretta Onochie, has charged the Nigeria Police Force to investigate the Senior Pastor of COZA Church, Biodun Fatoyinbo.

News Agency of Nigeria reports this comes after Busola Dakolo, photographer and wife of singer, Timi Dakolo accused Fatoyinbo of allegedly raping her as a teenager.

Onochie commented on the issues through her twitter account @laurestar

She spoke after the peaceful protests urging Fatoyinbo to step down held in Lagos and Abuja on Sunday.

Onochie said, “He raped me – Busola. I didn’t rape her – Fatoyinbo.

Me: What is the Police waiting for to invite this alleged rapist for questioning?

“This may lead to a polygraph or lie detector, telling us who is telling the truth. @PoliceNG pick him up, same way you’ll pick up an accused poor man!

“What I don’t understand is why Nigerians are calling on the alleged rapist, Biodun Fatoyibo to step down as a Pastor.

“Pastors are above board & above suspicion. He was never a Pastor. What we should be doing, is calling on the @PoliceNG to invite him for questioning,” she said.

NAN reports that amidst the trending issue and callouts, Fatoyinbo cancelled the upcoming events at the church and fixed a week-long prayer meeting instead.

The pastor had earlier officially denied the rape allegations with corroboration of his wife, Modele.

Meanwhile, the tag #PastorStepDown continues to trend on Twitter, Instagram and other media platforms.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi

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Rape allegation: Investigate COZA Pastor, Fatoyinbo, lawyers urge police

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The Coalition of Public Interest Lawyers and Advocates (COPA) has urged the police to immediately commence investigation on the rape allegation levelled against Pastor Biodun Fatoyimbo by Mrs Busola Dakolo, wife of renowned inspirational artiste, Timi Dakolo.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that Dakolo accused Fatoyimbo, the Senior Pastror, Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), of sexually abusing and raping her.

She had claimed that the incident resulted in loss of virtue, face and also exposed her to ridicule and trauma.

Pelumi  Olajengbesi, leader of COPA, in a statement described the allegation as grievous and must therefore not be swept under the carpet.

“In our quest to build a sane nation, no stone should be left unturned; this matter must be treated with the urgency it deserves and not swept under the carpet, as has regrettably been the habit.

“With the provisions of sections 4 and 24 of the Police Act, the Nigerian Police Force must urgently invite Pastor Biodun Fatoyimbo to appear before it to rest all sundry matters related to this matter. This is our demand.

“Regardless, the police must begin a thorough independent investigation of the allegations against Pastor Fatoyimbo, given that rape is a criminal matter that is squarely within their purview and mandate as a law enforcement agency.

“The Nigerian Police are to whereupon make its findings public and proceed to prosecute the culprit without delay, where its investigations turn up sufficient material for a case of rape,” Olajengbesi stated.

According to him, no fewer than 24 public interests lawyers and advocates have volunteered to take up the case of Dakolo, at no cost.

He said that decision of the lawyers to take up the matter was due to the fact that similar allegations had been levelled against the pastor in the past.

“We are mindful that such an allegation had in the past been levelled against the same individual by a plethora of women claiming to have had the misfortune of coming in contact with him.

“Any reasonable individual must deduce that there is in fact a dire concern to be put to rest here by laying the whole truth bare through proactive action.

“The failure of Pastor Biodun Fatoyimbo, now and in the past, to address these allegations and clear the air on his innocence is not just an arrogant disregard of public sensitivity but a dare to the general public, perhaps, to ‘do its worse’.

“The issue of rape and sexual abuse is a contextual one with a great significance in our laws and culture.

“It is not just a ruthless crime but a moral impropriety that must be addressed post-haste for the culprit to face justice so the victim might find succour and respite in the sanction of the law.”

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Embattled COZA Pastor Fatoyinbo cancels upcoming programme as protests gain ground

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Senior pastor of the Commonwealth or Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo has cancelled the church’s upcoming week-long programme as protests seeking his dismissal gather momentum.

News Agency of Nigeria reports that the event tagged ‘7DG’ was billed to hold from July 1 to July 7 was cancelled on Sunday during the church service with protesters holding a peaceful demonstration around the premises.

The protests tagged #ChurchToo and #PastorStepDown are currently being held at COZA branches in Lagos and Abuja with participants urging the church to suspend the clergy activities of Fatoyinbo pending investigations into the alleged rape accusations.

NAN recalls that on Friday, Busola Dakolo, celebrity photographer and wife of singer, Timi Dakolo accused Fatoyinbo of raping her at 16 in a now-viral video interview.

Dakolo detailed the events that led to the alleged rape, which she revealed happened twice in one week. The allegations caused an uproar on social media with some Nigerians calling on Fatoyinbo to respond.

NAN reports that although Fatoyinbo denied the allegations in an official response, protesters still urged him to step down as pastor of the church until the investigations are concluded.

They marched to the church premises in their numbers with placards.

In Abuja, they were met with opposition from some unnamed security agents and another group protesting in support of the pastor and the church.

The protests also has active conversations on social media with #stepdownpastor, #churchtoo and #pastorbiodunfatoyinbo among the top five trending topics on Nigerian twitter.

@martobono tweeted, “An allegation was made against the man. He used his COZA letterhead paper to respond.

“Meaning, the response was on behalf of the incorporated trustees, management and the entire members and you don’t want people to take their protests to the church? You must be MAD! #ChurchToo”

@MsLami_A wrote, “As expected, they barricaded the road leading to the church auditorium with armed forces. But we will sit here and pass our message across. #ChurchToo #MeToo #IStandWithBusolaDakolo.”

@Oluwatosingbenga said, “#COZA members in Abuja form human barricade preventing protesters from proceeding to the front of their church #stepdownpastor COZA youths blocking our protest.#ChurchToo#PastorStepDown”

Meanwhile, Fatoyinbo’s wife, Modele also denied the allegations against him on Sunday, adding that even before becoming a pastor, he has never raped anyone.

“Not even as an unbeliever will my husband rape someone,” Mrs Fatoyinbo said during the church service broadcast.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi

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COZA Pastor Fatoyinbo denies Bukola Dakolo’s rape allegation

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Denial

Abuja, June 28,2019 Embattled Senior Pastor and Founder of   Common Wealth of Zion(COZA)  has denied  the rape allegation leveled against him by Busola Dakolo, wife of  sensational soul singer Timi Dakolo.

Dakolo, mother of three had on Friday made a shocking revelation in a detailed interview with Chude Jideonwo, a lawyer and journalist on YNaija channel of how the Abuja-based cleric raped her as a teenager.

The viral video report has set social media and other online platforms on fire, evoking shock, backlash and criticism from Nigerians, especially the Christian community.

However, in his reaction, the embattled preacher posted a statement on his IG page @biodunfatoyinbo denying the allegation, adding  that he had never rape a woman  all his life.

In the statement addressed from the ‘Office of the Senior Pastor’, Fatoyinbo described the allegation as false and baseless claim targeted at destroying his reputation and  that of his church.

“I have never in my life raped anybody even as an unbeliever and I am absolutely innocent of this.”,the statement reads in part.

In 2013, the clergy popularly called “Gucci Pastor”, because of his flamboyant fashion style, was also entangled in an allegation of infidelity with one Ese Walter, a former member of the church.

Edited by Ekemini Ladejobi

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COZA Pastor Fatoyinbo raped me as teenager, Timi Dakolo’s wife Busola alleges

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Rape

Abuja, June 28,2019 Busola Dakolo, wife of  sensational soul singer, Timi Dakolo, has alleged that controversial Abuja-based Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Common Wealth of Zion (COZA) raped her as a teenager.

The mother of three and celebrity photographer made the shocking revelation in an interview with Chude Jideonwo, a Nigerian lawyer, journalist and media entrepreneur, published on Friday by YNaija channel.

According to her, she was a 16-year-old in the Divine Delight Club at Ilorin, kwara State; the precursor to Fatoyinbo’s Commonwealth of Zion Assembly when she said was groomed and raped by the pastor.

Dakolo explained that as a member of the church, she was raped at two different times in a week by the pastor, adding that she lost her virginity to him before she turned 18.

She alleged that the pastor raped her for the first time at her parent’s home and at another time in a secluded road path.

“Fatoyinbo showed up at our house unannounced early on a Monday morning  and I was still in my nightgown, as my  mother had travelled with my sisters and were absent at service the previous Sunday.

“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 my living room.”

“I saw him, he was removing his belt, he just said: ‘keep quiet, do what I want you to do and you will be fine.”

“He didn’t say anything after, left to his car, returned with a bottle of Krest and forced me to drink it, probably as some crude contraceptive.”

She also said he told her, “You should be happy that a man of God did this to you.”

“I have kept quiet over the years. I had to come out to say this because another narrative was being said.”she added.

Dakolo said she spoke up because her husband put up a social media post on Instagram, accusing the Nigerian clergy of condoning rape and sexual assault.

This revelation comes after her husband, Timi, recently called out the pastor over his alleged sexual relationship with female church members, encouraging other victims who have gone through the experience to speak up.

Timi’s posts however generated mixed reactions, with intense backlash, support and evoked rumours about who the subject of his post was and who the victims were.

In 2013, the clergy popularly called “Gucci Pastor,” because of his flamboyant fashion style, was also entangled in an allegation of infidelity with one Ese Walter, a former member of the church.

Walter, now married, had set social media ablaze after she alleged in a blog post that she had a week-long sexual relationship with the pastor during  a visit to London.

Walter, however admitted that her romance with Fatoyinbo was consensual, but said she felt “abused and manipulated” by him and the passive manner the church’s leadership handled the issue after she  complained .

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