Over the past one week, ear-tingling accusations of sexual assaults have erupted against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA) here in Nigeria.
Several women who were former members of the church have come forward to reveal how Biodun raped them (with the most recent occurring in 2017) and the church hierarchy covered up the reports to protect the alleged culprit.
COZA is not your average “down the street” kind of church. It is a sophisticated church that caters to a clientele of upwardly mobile youth population; one pastored by a sleek, urbane, attractive and charismatic preacher.
These revelations – which aren’t new, by the way – sparked protests at COZA church branches and the man in the eye of the storm has taken a leave of absence.
For days, I read several posts and comments on social media desperately cobbling up defenses for the accused. What I find striking, however, was the core of Christian sentiments embedded in these writings: Christians blithely defending a pastor with some of the silliest excuses and dismissing all accusations of sexual misconduct as lies cooked up by the devil.
From all I’ve read from these social media attorneys, I noted the following threads of assumptions:
(1) A pastor cannot be involved in a criminal act such as rape.
(2) If # 1 is implicitly true, then your “Christian obligation” is to defend him to the hilt.
(3) But if you don’t practice #2 because you don’t subscribe to #1, you are worse than an infidel because even Muslims shield their clerics when they commit crimes.
(4) If there are several witnesses testifying that a reputable pastor is a criminal (i.e. # 1 is false) then blame the victims, discredit their accounts, impugn their character and demonize their person.
(5) If # 4 proves too hard a task, then bring up the “we are all sinners” or “he without a sin should cast a stone” card.
(6) If all these don’t yield the expected results, then turn the pastor into a super martyr of a diabolical conspiracy. This still falls back on # 1, that if you are a church leader of any sort, you can’t really be guilty of any crime.
In a series of posts, I will be debunking these false assumptions. My stance on this matter has been made clear from the start, and it’s based on the consistent pattern of sexual malpractices in the accused.
Old Wines in New Wineskins?
It’s no secret that Biodun Fatoyinbo was formerly a cultist before he professed to be converted. He once admitted in a sermon that he had murdered many people in his past as a cult leader. A former member of COZA had this to say:
“My thoughts on Biodun Fatoyinbo is very clear. I attended [the] same school with Biodun. I also attended his church from Wonderland Gardens to Kwara Hotel to Stella Obasanjo Hall. I left the church because I had had it up to my chin and if I didn’t leave I would have been arrested one day or would be trending for interrupting his sermon and screaming at him…
Biodun was a cultist, in fact, the hit man for the Black Axe Confraternity and he raped many girls before he gave his life to Christ. This is a confirmed story because his number 2 and 3 [fellows] were my neighbours in Osi Road in Adewole Estate while I was growing up.
He gave his life to Christ and became supposedly born again. That Biodun sleeps with women and girls serially is no news. I personally know more than 5 friends who he has slept with while being a pastor (Don’t forget I was a foundation member of COZA and I have those girls on speed dial if necessary)…
Biodun was a serial rapist as a cultist and being born again might not completely erase traces of that in him. To be honest, COZA was a fishing spot for us back then. [If] you needed a clean, fine, well-dressed girl who said she loved God, COZA was your destination. Tales abound.”
Whether Biodun truly became saved but later reverted to his old ways or he was never converted at all, I cannot say. Only God knows that.
But I want to draw your attention to the fact that his church appeared to be convenient enough to be a “fishing spot” for sexually immoral “Christian” males and females.
Also, from the uniform testimonies available, it’s clear that a foul continuity exists between Biodun’s past and present sexual depravity, though now perpetrated in the name of God, and with the authority of his position.
After the first public victim of Biodun’s sexual predation, Ese Walter, spoke up in 2013, Japheth Omojuwa, a Nigerian public speaker, blogger, columnist and a sporadic member of COZA, privately investigated the allegations.
He exchanged several emails with Ese, and after his article was published, received emails from many ladies (some of whom were formerly COZA members in Ilorin) as well as an Abuja-based counselor narrating their experiences with this pastor:
“One of the women – who admitted she was seeking counseling not because she felt abused by the pastor but because she felt used and dumped, because the pastor had abandoned her – had much to say.
She said that it started when she went for counseling with pastor Fatoyinbo. That, they exchanged numbers and they started calling each other at odd hours. It went from phone sex to the bedroom. There is no need to give the graphic details of the wildness she said transpired.
“The second story as relayed by the Abuja counselor was exactly like the first, from marital counseling to wild sex. This second person is actually married, and remains married. One of the ladies admitted she was so addicted to him she threw all caution to the wind.
“The money according to them was another attraction they’d not deny. They didn’t say they were abused, they said they felt used and dumped. She said the pastor has a huge appetite for sex but gets bored easily and this explains his constant change of girls.”
I believe that the Church of God, particularly in Nigeria, has been kept in the dark about certain biblical realities.
First of all, the narrative of holy and spiritually strong brothers being derailed from their glorious destinies by a horde of beautiful Delilahs – though real – is hackneyed in our collective consciousness and it should be suspended.
Reality is equally the other way round: a sexually predatory preacher that is as handsome as Absalom, powerful as Samson and wise as Solomon who systematically targets, manipulates and sexually defiles his victims (whether female or male). Yes, there are also “male Delilahs.”
Amos 6:3-5 describes the system of spiritual abuse perpetrated within the congregation of God’s people:
“Woe to you who put far off the day of doom, Who cause the seat of violence to come near; Who lie on beds of ivory, Stretch out on your couches, Eat lambs from the flock, And calves from the midst of the stall; Who sing idly to the sound of stringed instruments, And invent for yourselves musical instruments like David.”
The expression, “eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall” aptly conveys clerical sexual predation – church leaders who use their authority and position to sexually prey on members of their congregation.
There are men in Christian churches who are sexual vampires; they specifically hunt for the weak, the vulnerable and the young, and they use their nubile bodies to reanimate their own psychic powers. They maintain their hold on their victims using fear, power and mind control.
The “single story” of the demonic female versus angelic male – a staple of many Nigerian movies and books – has blinded many Christians to the reality of pastoral wolves in sheep clothing devouring the flock, poisoning the pasture and desecrating the vineyard with abominations.
That false narrative is a cultural stronghold that has conveniently protected many agents of Satan within the churches. Many of us were conditioned to conceive of satanic infiltrators in the camp of God’s people as only female in gender.
This underlying mentality is what drives many church goers to blindly side with a pastor should any female accuse him of sexual impropriety.
A pastor/priest/prophet can also be an adulterer, homosexual or paedophile. He can be a criminal – rapist, child trafficker, armed bandit, drug baron, murderer etc. He can even be an occultist, satanist or sorcerer! He may have been into all these vices before he was regenerated and reverted to them at some point, or he was never really regenerated from the get go.
A vile individual can join a church, follow through denominational motions and formats and modify his external self, but his vile nature still remains unchanged or even worse. More like an old wine in a new wineskin.
The Fifth Column
The phrase “fifth column” was frequently used during World War II, and its origins are particularly interesting. In 1936, during the civil war in Spain, a Spanish general was leading an attack on a city occupied by his opponents.
Another general came to him and asked, “General, what is your plan to take the city?” The first general answered, “I have four columns advancing on the city – one from the north, one from the east, one from the south, and one from the west.” He paused, then added, “But it is my fifth column that I expect to take the city for me.”
The second general said, “Where is your fifth column?” The response: “Inside the city.” The fifth column comprised traitors who would ultimately undermine the city’s defenses.
This is how Satan and his demons strategize their warfare. They fight from without, but their most potent war is launched from within. This occurs at the individual and church level. The enemy launches his “internal strikes” within individuals and plants his troops within the church to do the same.
In this age of mixtures, many satanic troops are operating from the echelons of Christian leadership to the pews in polluting, weakening, deceiving, frustrating and preying on many unwary souls.
The Bible consistently warns us about such infiltrators in the midst of God’s people who will counterfeit almost everything present in true Christianity. Jesus warned:
“Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves” (Matt. 7:15).
These wolves will not always come in the office of a “prophet,” they can also come as pastors, teachers, evangelists, theologians, brothers or harbingers of truth.
Their packaging is irrelevant. They will always look like us and speak the language of the sheep to be let into the sheep pen. But it’s only a matter of time before their sheep clothing succumbs to moths.
Later, Jesus told the disciples a parable:
“The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared” (Matt. 13:24-26)
Jesus explained that the field is symbolic of the world and the good seed (or wheat) stands for the people of the kingdom. The weeds are the people of the evil one, and the one who planted them is the devil. The words of the Sower in verse 30 is instructive:
“Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.”
That means, until the end of the Church Age, there will always be tares of the enemies – fifth columns – mixing with the people of God.
Even the Lord Jesus had a fifth column among the disciples: Judas Iscariot. He was a part of the inner circle of Christ’s disciples. He preached, cast out demons, performed miracles and was with the Lord for 3 years. Nobody knew his true identity as a traitor except Jesus.
If Satan could use a fifth column among the apostles of Christ who were eye witnesses of His Majesty, then why would he have much difficulty using many within the contemporary church for his nefarious works?
In Acts 20:29-30, Paul the apostle passionately warned the leaders of the Ephesian church:
“I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them.”
The words “among you” and “from your own number” indicate that these savage wolves will attain positions of leadership within the church. In 2 Cor. 11:14-15, we are also informed:
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness.”
This means satanic infiltrators are usually the most charming, caring, cute and talented personalities within the church. This utterly refutes the widely held theory that an influential, wealthy, anointed and humanitarian individual cannot have a devious, sinister or criminal side.
Just as God has His servants, Satan too has his own ministers; they too have their own ministries, their own followers and their own schemes.
Paul also talked about being in danger “from false brothers” (2 Cor. 11:26). Brothers whom he thought were servants of God willing to help, but were actually enemies ready to betray him to those seeking his life. They are the “enemies of the cross of Christ” who bring disrepute to the image of Christianity (Phil. 3:18).
2 Peter 2:1 says: “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.“
These are some of the assignments of Satan’s troops in the Christian fold. Their job is to undermine Christianity from within; to lead people astray with false teachings (like cheap grace, “Hebrew Roots” legalism, mysticism) and seduce others into sinful acts.
Jude 1:4 says:
“For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
This is why it’s presumptuous and ignorant for Christians to quickly take on a “circle the bunkers” approach to legitimate reports of evil committed by a reputed Christian leader.
It’s dangerous to assume you know a person’s true nature because you see him (or her) ministering from a pulpit everyday or laying hands on the sick on TV.
A public figure can have a dark side which you may never see. That Biodun Fatoyinbo is a pastor – even if superbly anointed – doesn’t make him inherently innocent of sexual crimes.
Now, in my next post, I will be discussing the dynamics of mind control that often keep people sheepishly following after predatory leaders, twisting themselves into ropes and mutilating Scripture, all in a bid to defend them as spotless.