Dozens of ex Synagogue Church of all Nations members-five British allege atrocities including rape and forced abortions by Nigerian late TB Joshua. The allegations of abuse in a secretive Lagos compound span almost 20 years. The Synagogue Church of all Nations did not respond to the allegations but said previous claims have been unfounded. TB Joshua, who died in 2021 was a very successful televangelist and preacher who had an immense global following.
The Investigative Findings
Dozens of eyewitness accounts of physical violence or torture carried by Joshua, including instances of child abuse and people being whipped and chained. Numerous women who say that they were sexually assaulted by Joshua with a number claiming that they were repeatedly raped for years inside the compound. Multiple allegations of forced abortions inside the church following the alleged rapes by Joshua including one woman who said she had five terminations. Multiple firsthand accounts detailing how Joshua faked his miracle healings which were broadcasted to millions of peoples around the world.
One of the victims, a British woman called Rae was 21 yeas old when she abandoned her degree at Brighton University in 2002 and was recruited into the church, she spent the next twelve years as one of Joshua’s disciples in a maze-like compound in Lagos. “We all thought that we were in heaven, but we were in hell and terrible things happened, she told an international media agency.
The Synagogue Church of All Nations has a global following, operating a TV channel called Emmanuel TV and social media networks with millions of users. Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s tens of thousands of pilgrims from Europe, Asia, America and Africa travelled to the church in Nigeria to witness Joshua performing healing miracles. At least 150 visitors lived with him as disciples inside his compound in Lagos, sometimes for decades.
More than 25 former disciples spoke to the BBC from the UK, Nigeria, US, South Africa, Ghana, Namibia and Germany giving powerful testimony about their experiences within the church with most recent experience in 2019 Many victims were in their teens when they first joined. In some of the British cases, their transport to Lagos was paid for by Joshua in coordination with other churches in the UK.
Jessica Kaimu from Namibia says her ordeal lasted for five years. She was 17 when she joined when Joshua raped her and the subsequent instances of rape by Joshua led her to having five abortions while there. “These were backdoor types, medical treatments that we were going through, it could have killed us, she told an international media agency. Other interviewees say they were stripped and beaten with electric cables and horse whips and routinely denied sleep.
Death of Joshua
On his death in 2021, TB Joshua was hailed as the one of the most important pastors in Africa. Rising from poverty he built an evangelical empire that counted dozens of political leaders, celebrities and international footballers among his associates. He did however attract some controversy during his life time when a guest house of church pilgrims collapsed in 2014, killing at least 116 people.
The investigation, carried out by international media platforms is the first-time multiple church insiders have come forward to speak on the record. They said that they had spent many years trying to raise an alarm but were effectively silenced. Many journalists in Nigeria claim that they were physically attacked and shot after speaking out against the abuse. The Church security also fired on them and many of them were detained.
A British man and his wife emailed eye witnessed accounts of their ordeal and video evidence including recordings of being held at gunpoint by men describing as police were also members of Scoan to the British High Commission in Nigeria in March 2010 after fleeing the church. In his email, the man said his wife had been repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped by Joshua. He warned the commission that other British nationals were still inside the compound facing atrocities.
He also says no action was taken. The UK Foreign Office did not respond to these claims, but told an international media agency that it takes all reports of crime, including sexual assault and violence against British nationals overseas very seriously. Scoan continues to thrive today, under the leadership of Joshua’s widow, Evelyn. In July 2023, she led a tour of Spain.
Anneka, who left Derby in the UK to join Scoan at the age of 17, told the BBC she believes there are many other victims who have yet to speak out. She hopes further steps will be taken to uncover Joshua’s actions. “I believe the Synagogue Church of All Nations needs a thorough investigation into why this man was able to function for so long the way he did,” she said.