T. B Joshua’s church hits back at allegations of refusal to cooperate with authorities.
Investigations are continuing by Nigeria’s authority following 67 South Africans crushed to death when a residential building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria collapsed last week.
At least 17 dead bodies were recovered from the rubble on Wednesday to add to the 63 dead bodies removed previously, bringing it to 80 the number of deaths so far, while rescue operations continue.
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) spokesman Ibrahim Farinloye told HICGI News AGency that more dead bodies are still expected to be removed from the rubble.
“Up to now emergency management has not estimated or given us any lads of people trapped so we are just working on a plan.”
While rescue and recovery efforts continue at the site, several others have been injured.
The church says it is working closely with South African and Nigerian governments, emergency services and relief agencies and is following diplomatic protocol.
It has once again mentioned an aircraft flying over the church moments before the collapse, saying that ‘God will reveal the perpetrators of this unfortunate tragedy’.
The claim that this may have been a terror attack has been widely dismissed, with the focus remaining on poor or illegal construction.
The church has sent its ‘heart-felt commiserations’ to the families of those who have died.
The Lagos State Executive Council says investigators are collecting building material samples from the site of the building collapse, as the structure was apparently being renovated when it came down.
The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olutoyin Ayinde, says there’s no evidence that the Synagogue Church of All Nations secured proper approval for the renovations.
“The material testing lab will give us a report to determine whether the foundation was responsible because what we saw there looks like a controlled demolition. But this we have to confirm.”
VICTIMS FAMILIES GATHER AT OR TAMBO
At OR Tambo International Airport, families with missing loved ones in Nigeria are once again anticipating their arrival.
South Africans who survived the building collapse started returning home on Wednesday and more flights are expected to arrive this morning.
Anxious families are leaning over the rails at the international arrivals terminal, trying to spot any sign of their loved ones returning home safely.
Many of the people who are still missing have not made contact with their families in South Africa, leading to some arriving at OR Tambo, hoping for the best.
Two flights have already landed and some have been reunited with their families.
But others have since left the airport, saying they’ll be back on Friday morning.
Who is T. B Joshua?
Temitope Balogun Joshua (born June 12, 1963 in Arigidi, Nigeria), commonly referred to as T. B. Joshua, is a Christian minister, televangelist and so-called faith healer. He is leader and founder of the ministry organisation The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), which runs aChristian television station called Emmanuel TV.
He has been awarded various accolades, notably receiving the National Honour of OFR by the Nigerian government in 2008. He is recognised as one of Africa’s 50 most influential people.
Joshua is known for his popularity across Africa and his online presence, with 1,000,000 fans on Facebook and hundreds of YouTube videos which have proved controversial and amassed hundreds of thousands of views
According to Joshua’s official biography, unusual circumstances surrounded his birth. It is claimed he spent 15 months in his mother’s womb and narrowly avoided death after a quarry explosion near his house sent rocks through its roof just seven days after his birth.
Joshua attended St. Stephen’s Anglican Primary School in Arigidi-Akoko, Nigeria between 1971 and 1977, but failed to complete one year of secondary school education.In school, he was known as “small pastor” because of his love for the Bible. He worked in various casual jobs after his schooling had ended, including carrying chicken waste at a poultry farm. He organised Bible studies for local children and attended evening school during this period.Joshua attempted to join the Nigerian military but was thwarted due to a train breakdown that left him stranded en route to the military academy.
The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN)
Joshua wrote that in a heavenly vision, he had received divine anointing and a covenant from God to start his ministry. Following this, Joshua founded the ministry organisation The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) with only a handful of members. According to the organisation, more than 15,000 members attend its weekly Sunday service; visitors from outside Nigeria are accommodated in the accommodation blocks constructed at the church.
The Guardian Newspaper UK reported that The SCOAN attracts more weekly attendees than the combined number of visitors to Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London. The SCOAN’s popular services have also resulted in an enormous boost for local businesses and hoteliers.
The church has branches in Ghana and the United Kingdom.
Alleged healings and miracles
SCOAN remains controversial both in Nigeria and abroad, claiming regular occurrences of divine miracles.Several hundred Nigerians and international visitors come to the SCOAN each week to register for the prayer lines where the visitors are prayed over by T. B. Joshua and the “Wise Men”. SCOAN has published numerous videos claiming to document the healing of incurable disabilities and illnesses such as HIV/AIDS. Medical reports are a prerequisite for prayer for any health-related ailment in an attempt to authenticate the miracles said to be occurring.
Spiritual healing at The SCOAN has been the subject of several media reports, including a mention in Time Magazine, an Associated Press interview and an article by Foreign Policy detailing the proficiency of Nigerians to seek ‘spiritual’ help due to insufficient medical facilities.
Many have also claimed to be healed through ‘Anointing Water’ that has been prayed over by Joshua and given to those who are unable to physically attend his church in Lagos.
The ‘water’ sparked controversy when four people died in a stampede in Joshua’s Ghanaian branch when an unadvertised service where it was being distributed drew huge crowds far beyond the churches capacity, bringing Ghana’s capital city Accra almost to a standstill.
Alleged deliverances Of Demon-Possessed
SCOAN is also controversial for the ‘deliverance’ of those allegedly possessed by evil spirits during its services. The wife of Ghanaian goal keeper Richard Kingson was allegedly delivered of an evil spirit which was supposedly behind her husband’s inability to procure a contract with a team since 2011. He has since secured a contract with Turkish club Balıkesirspor.
Notable Ghanaian human rights lawyer Kwabla Senanu testified at The SCOAN that he was ‘delivered’ from a spiritual problem that had caused him embarrassing bouts of sleep in the courtroom. Similarly, Ghanaian musician Denise Williams said she was ‘delivered’ from a demon that had pushed her to become a drug addict and suicidal. Veteran Nigerian Nollywood Actress Camilla Mberekpe was also said to be ‘delivered’ at The SCOAN.
Popular Nollywood actor Jim Iyke also allegedly received deliverance at The SCOAN, the video of the supposed event subsequently going viral.
Another Ministry is the humanitarian arm of SCOAN. There are media reports that this humanitarian arm has donated money in order to help orphans and the destitute. In 2009 it was reported that one widow received more than 500,000 N. In 2012 T.B. Joshua sponsored one Nigerian student doing a PhD in Oxford University with Nigerian media reporting the total given amounted to £100,000. There is also a rehabilitation programme for militants from Nigeria’s volatile Niger Delta region and a Forbes blogger estimated that Joshua has spent $20 million on humanitarian activities over a period of three years.
T.B. Joshua was involved in the meeting of the family of the late president of Liberia, Samuel Doe, with the former warlord Prince Yormie Johnson who was responsible for Does death. During this meeting the family publicly forgave Johnson.
SCOAN has also established another NGO in Ghana called Passion For Needy.After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, Joshua sent a team of medical personnel and humanitarian workers to the affected area, establishing a field hospital called ‘Clinique Emmanuel’. In recognition of his humanitarian activities, he was awarded a National Honour by the Nigerian government in 2008 as well as receiving a letter of appreciation from the United Nations. He was further honoured as an Ambassador of Peace by the Arewa Youth Forum, a predominantly Muslim organisation, in appreciation of his humanitarian endeavours.
In 2009 T. B. Joshua started a football club, My People FC, as part of efforts to help the youth. Two members of the team played for Nigeria’s Golden Eaglets in the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup. Sani Emmanuel, who apparently lived in The SCOAN for several years, was Nigeria’s top-scorer and the tournament’s MVP. Emmanuel and his colleague Ogenyi Onazi have now signed professional contracts with SS Lazio, Onazi a key player for the Nigerian Senior Team, the Super Eagles.
Current WBO International Light Middleweight boxing champion King Davidson Emenogu said that Joshua has financially supported him throughout his career and purportedly prophesied that he would be a world boxing champion.
SCOAN claims that Joshua has successfully predicted events in the lives of individuals who attend his church services as well as worldwide events, including a prophecy of Michael Jackson’s death, the Boston bombing attacks in America and the outcome of two African Cup of Nations (AFCON) final matches, which were won by Zambia and Nigeria respectively.
His alleged prophecy about the death of an African president was widely reported in African press. Joshua’s followers believe the prophecy concerned the former president of Malawi Bingu wa Mutharika who died in 2012. After his death Joshua’s message about involving youth in politics reportedly influenced Malawi’s current president Joyce Banda in her choice of a youthful vice presidential candidate in the upcoming Malawian elections.
False rumors spread using Joshua’s name are known to have caused widespread panic in communities, affected sporting events and led people to stop using social networks.
Alleged MH370 prophecy
Joshua’s purported prophecy about the crash of Malaysian Airlines MH370 several months before the incident drew international media attention with its accompanying YouTube video going viral and amassing over 900,000 views in weeks.
Notable visitors, especially within the African political sphere, have visited SCOAN. These include late Ghanaian President John Evans Atta Mills South Africa’s Winnie Mandela, EFF leader Julius Malema, the Zulu King,Goodwill Zwelithini kaBhekuzulu and the late former Zambian President Frederick Chiluba who once stated that he watched ‘Emmanuel TV’ daily.
Emmanuel TV is the television station of the SCOAN and broadcasts 24/7. Their Saturday and Sunday services, which include the prayer lines, are broadcast live. Joshua’s programmes also air weekly on a number of local television stations across Africa. In 2011 Joshua has donated televisions to the psychiatric hospital in Accra to “assist inmates to engage in worship”.
Popular Nigerian Actress Tonto Dikeh testified that Joshua’s prayers on Emmanuel TV stopped her smoking habit of 14 years.
Joshua is married to Evelyn Joshua. They have three children. His first daughter Sarah graduated from London School of Economics with a law degree in 2012, and is now pursuing a Master’s degree in America.
T. B. Joshua has many critics.
According to media reports, at least three people in London with HIV have died after they stopped taking life saving drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors. “The women died after attending churches in London where they were encouraged to stop taking the antiretroviral drugs in the belief that God would heal them.” The HIV prevention charity African Health Policy Network (AHPN) believed that the SCOAN, which has UK headquarters in Southwark, south London, “may” be one of those involved in such practices. However the three in question have no demonstrable link to the SCOAN. The BBC quoted the SCOAN as saying “No, we do not ask people to stop taking their medication”. A witness from central London told the BBC she had had a phone conversation with a representative of SCOAN, in which she was told she could be cured of HIV