A rape allegation against the Senior Pastor of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Biodun Fatoyinbo, has prompted the nationwide #ChurchToo movement, with more women breaking the chain of silence associated with sexual assault and rape in religious institutions in Nigeria.
Busola Dakolo, the wife of a popular singer, Timi Dakolo and a mother of three, alleged in an interview with YNaija, that she was sexually molested by Biodun Fatoyinbo when she was a minor, in the year 1999. Her story caught the public attention and sparked outrage, which led to protests by a group of Civil Society Organizations and individuals under the auspices of the #ChurchToo Movement and the #IStandWithBusola hashtag, at Fatoyinbo’s church in Abuja and Lagos on Sunday calling for his immediate resignation as the senior pastor of the congregation, and his prosecution.
Biodun Fatoyinbo has since denied the allegation in a press statement on his Instagram page, he said, ‘’I have never in my life raped anybody even as an unbeliever”. He further noted that he will be taking legal actions against Busola Dakolo.
This however, is not the first time Fatoyinbo has been accused of sexual molestation. In 2013, he was accused by Ese Walters, who narrated her unwanted sexual overtures by him, despite being married to his wife of several years. After Busola’s public accusation, several female members of the church have come forward with individual claims of their experience with Fatoyinbo, and this can be linked with the fact that Busola had the courage to speak up about the assault. Due to the protest and the pressure by Nigerians and the Civil Society Organizations, Fatoyinbo announced his decision to take a leave of absence from the pulpit, following the counsel of Christian leaders and spiritual mentors. He added that the decision although saddening, it’s the right thing to do.
WRAPA lauds Nigerians and the Civil Society Organizations who condemned and spoke out against rape culture and sexual assault in religious institutions, and demanded justice for survivors. We hope this trend encourages more women to break the chain of silence around rape and other sexual and gender based violence (SGBV) related crimes.