Friday, 06 December, 2019

COZA Must Fall : Pastor Fatoyinbo must be prosecuted, protesters insist

Protesters under many organisations on Sunday morning demanded for prosecution of founder of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo over accusation of rape.

The pastor, they maintained, must face the music for the act they described as animalistic.

Members of #ChurchTooMovement arrived the Guzape area headquarters of the church in Abuja as early as 8am.

Spotting white t-shirts and jeans, they had converged about one-kilometre away at NNPC Filling Station in Guzape with their leaders, including Bukky Shonibare, Ayo Oyelowo, Lemmy Ughegbe.

Aisha Yesufu of Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement later joined to energise the protesters.

They carried placards with inscriptions such as “we are watching you,”; “Thou shall not rape”; “Your Pastor is not your God” and  ‘No to sexual abuse in my church’, among others.

Protest leader, Ms Bukky Shonibare, a long-time activist who caimed that 126 individuals and groups are behind the march, said:  “We are a group of well-meaning, concerned Nigerians‚ under the umbrella of the #ChurchToo Movement, advocating for and speaking against all forms of human rights violations, especially sexual abuse, that have become prevalent in the church today.

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“The pattern and the repetitiveness of these allegations is worrisome, one that calls for urgent and immediate action.

“We believe that leaders placed in positions of authority must be subject to a higher level of scrutiny and accountability while desisting from taking advantage of their positions of influence and power over their members, which often cause unquantifiable and, sometimes, irredeemable damage to the victims.

“We are concerned also that when the church authority refuses to take action following an allegation of such magnitude as rape, which is a sin before God and a crime against the laws of the land, it sends a message that the church condones such acts and is shielding perpetrators of sexual violence.

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“This must stop! The allegations of rape and sexual misconduct Ieveled against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo must not be swept under the carpet without the necessary actions of investigation and prosecution.

“The church should be a place where its members can find succor, comfort and protection; hence actions that produce the opposite must be condemned.”

She presented stated the movement’s four demands.

“In view of the above circumstance, we, therefore, demand that:

“One, the Board and leadership of the Commonwealth of Zion Assemny (COZA) must commence investigation into the allegation of rape Ieveled by Busola Dakolo and any other member of the church against its lead Pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo.

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“Two, while the investigation is being carried out, Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo must be asked to step down from any leadership role in the church to avoid partiality.

“Three, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN), and other relevant Christian bodies must show leadership by condemning these crimes coming from the church, while ensuring relevant actions are taken.

“Four, the continuous harassment and intimidation of Busola and Tumi Dakolo, and other victims must stop forthwith.”

She added: “Moving forward, in the coming days, we will be marching to the relevant law enforcement, judicial and Iaw-making bodies to stress the importance of ensuring that rape and other forms of sexual abuse will no longer be tolerated.

“We will not stop until justice for sexual abuse victims is taken seriously and addressed in Nigeria.”

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