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Protesters Storm COZA Over Rape Allegation …Want Pastor To Step Down …My Husband Not a Rapist -Mrs Fatoyinbo

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Thousands of Nigerians, yesterday, stormed Abuja to protest the allegations of rape levelled against the Founder and Global Senior Pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Abiodun Fatoyinbo.
The protesters, who first converged on NNPC Filling Station at Guzape, marched to the Abuja headquarters of the church in the early hours of yesterday.
Some of the placards held by the protesters read, “We are watching you”, “Your Pastor is not your God”, “Say No To Rape”, “Say No to Sexual Predators”, “I Hate Rape, #ChurchMeToo”, “God Can Forgive You Behind Bars #ChurchToo”, “Thou shall not rape” and “No to sexual abuse in my church”, among others with the hashtag ‘#ChurchToo.’
The protesters, including one of the leaders of the Bring Back Our Girls movement, Aisha Yesufu, could be seen wearing white in solidarity with victims of rape.
This follows allegations of rape against Fatoyinbo by Busola Dakolo, photographer and wife of inspirational singer, Timi Dakolo.
However, just as they were marching towards the church, another group of men engaged in a counter-protest against members of the #ChurchToo Movement, who participated in a demonstration at Commonwealth of Zion Assembly over the rape allegation.
The members of #ChurchToo were blocked by a human barricade of COZA members who linked arms about 150 metres from the church auditorium in Guzape, Abuja.
About an hour into the protest by #ChurchToo, the pro-Fatoyinbo group emerged with handwritten placards that read, ‘We love Pastor Fatoyinbo’, and ‘Biodun is a great man,’ among others.
The members, who were said to be labourers working near the church, were allegedly paid N10,000 each by an unidentified church member.
Our correspondent observed that some of them accepted N500 each from a #ChurchToo protester to surrender their placards.
The Senior Pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly in Guzape, Abuja, Pastor Abiodun Fatoyinbo, also made a surprise appearance in church.
He was absent for over an hour, fuelling reports that he was in hiding due to the allegations of rape levelled against him.
His wife, Pastor Omodele Fatoyinbo, had taken charge of the service earlier.
Mrs Fatoyinbo, while leading the prayer session, said God would deliver them from the goliaths and pharaohs of the world.
Quoting 2nd Samuel chapter 22, Mrs Fatoyinbo said there would be testimonies in the church amid troubles.
She said enemies would not overcome the children of God.
The wife of the senior pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly in Guzape, said that her husband is not a rapist.
Mrs Fatoyinbo said, “My husband is not a rapist. Even if he was not a believer, he would not be a rapist.”
Before she could complete her speech, however, her husband quickly grabbed the microphone, and said, “the elders are handling the matter”.
Although church service, which usually ends at 12pm, was hurriedly concluded before 11am while no sermon was delivered.
A member of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), who identified himself as Femi Olaoye @femolevsky has asked Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo, to step down and allow for an investigation into the rape allegation.
Though the flamboyant pastor has denied the allegation and threatened to sue his accusers, many Nigerians have taken to the social media to condemn the COZA pastor.
Some Nigerians also embarked on a demonstration, yesterday in Abuja and Lagos against the pastor.
Olaoye on his twitter handle urged the pastor to own up to his action and face the consequences, adding that the church will be fine without him.
“If these allegations are true, it is important Pastor Biodun owns up to them, face the consequences including Law enforcement and submit to the process. The church will be fine without him,” Olaoye submitted.
Olaoye said, @femolevsky: “I am a member of COZA, I joined almost 8 years ago now. I am not a worker or a member of any inner circle. But I wholeheartedly subscribed to the mission of the church and many of the programmes and messages.
“My attendance of the church was primarily because of my relationship with God, and secondarily because of the level of excellence that spoke out in the ambience that is constantly presented. I saw church done differently and in a manner that I subconsciously desired.
“One thing I know is always repeated is the importance of your personal relationship with God. You are tutored and admonished to build that personal relationship with God. Like me, there are many other people, who out of the innocence of their hearts and desire for fulfillment in the pursuit of their faith joined the church.
“Personally, I am far from perfect, I can in no way be the Judge over anyone, but I know what is required for stewardship of a church and a congregation. I know what is required of the steward and what the church should be. The church is not the pastor, the pastor is not the church.
“While at this moment, it is easy to attack the church, members and hierarchy, leave the church and rain curses from the outside and deny ever attending or having anything to do with the church, I choose otherwise. I believe the church, the victims, vulnerable members as well as dutiful workers need to be protected, rallied and encouraged to remain steadfast, but to also demand accountability.
“If these allegations are true, it is important Pastor Biodun owns up to them, face the consequences including Law enforcement and submit to the process. The church will be fine without him.
“I was one of the people who spoke up, asking @timidakolo to provide evidence and put substance to his posts and he and his wife have done so.
“Now, it is my turn to pursue justice, demand accountability and protect the sanctity of the church.
“There is a major programme coming up in a couple of days and the timing couldn’t be better.
“It is right of everyone to protest and demand justice, but I know people will jump on this, whether for personal, selfish, evil or altruistic reasons and they are all welcome, as long as we are demanding Justice and accountability. All I ask is that innocent members be spared the wrath and the benefit of the doubt, as we signed up to God’s church and not the Man of God.
“Yes, we respect him as the steward and shepherd, we applaud his good works so far and celebrate them, but out of that respect and honour, we ask him to step aside, address this situation and face the consequences and not let the church suffer instead.
“It is important to note that he won’t be the first to face the law and certainly won’t be the last. In fact, he should continue to preach the truth as he has, and work to ensure that truth is protected, by speaking and stepping down for the process to take its course.
“My sympathies to all alleged victims, my prayers are with and for them, my deepest love to Pastor’s kids as they endure this difficult time and my admonition to members!
“Let us unite, speak truth and demand accountability. May the grace of God be with us all, may God help us”, he added.
However, Pastor Abiodun Fatoyinbo, has cancelled the yearly programme, “Seven Days of Glory” of the church.
Fatoyinbo announced this while addressing congregants, yesterday.
The programme, which usually begins every July 1 and holds for seven days, has attracted several international pastors like Bishop T.D Jakes and Creflo Dollar in the past.
Fatoyinbo said his mentors and leaders had advised him to cancel the programme.
He said he didn’t want to put the guest preachers through the stress of coming to COZA amid such allegations of rape.
The pastor was hailed by hundreds of congregants who yelled, “we love you pastor”.
Fatoyinbo said his “elders” were handling the matter even as he said he was not happy with the huge deployment of security agents in the church.
But some female members of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly in Guzape, Abuja, yesterday, gave 15 minutes of testimonies at the church.
The women shared their “COZA experiences”, claiming their lives have changed for the better since they joined the church.
Although most of the women did not identify themselves, most of them claimed they experienced unprecedented financial success.
While one of the women claimed to have got her dream job, another one said her marriage was salvaged.
A female congregant, Toyin, said she joined the church in 2012, and was mentored by the Senior Pastor, Abiodun Fatoyinbo.
The extended testimony session by the women may not be unconnected with allegations of rape levelled against Fatoyinbo.
It was learnt that the testimony session may have been put together to rubbish the rape allegations.
Earlier, an extended testimony session was held in the church with seven women coming out, in turn, to attest to the character of the pastor and the presence of God in the church.
Although most of the women did not identify themselves, most of them claimed they experienced unprecedented financial success.
Mrs Fatoyinbo said the testimonies given by the women were authentic.
Just as the service was going on, workers at Commonwealth of Zion Assembly in Guzape, Abuja, seized over 100 jotters from worshippers.
It was observed that, at least, 100 jotters were confiscated and placed on a car at the entrance.
Operatives of the Department of State Services wearing hooded masks, the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force and officials of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, yesterday, surrounded the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly in Guzape, Abuja.
It was observed that, at least, 50 security operatives with patrol vehicles were stationed on either side of the road on Nasir el-Rufai Crescent where the church is located.
Although security officials are usually deployed in the church every Sunday, the number of operatives, yesterday was higher than usual.
About five men wearing gloves frisked congregants at the entrance and questioned those found suspicious.
The deployment of security operatives may not be unconnected with threats by several rights groups to protest at the church following allegations of rape levelled against COZA senior pastor, Abiodun Fatoyinbo.
Meanwhile, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned any case of rape in strong terms, saying it doesn’t matter who is involved.
The President, CAN, Rev Samson Ayokunle, who gave the condemnation via a text message to journalists, stressed that justice must prevail in all rape cases.
Ayokunle described rape as ungodly, wicked and reprehensible.
He, however, noted that CAN has no details on the trending allegations against the founder of Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), Pastor Abiodun Fatoyinbo.
But he confirmed that the association had reached out to the Christian wing which Fatoyinbo belongs to ascertain the truth of the matter and take necessary actions.
“We have no details about the matter other than what we are reading and hearing from social media, and this is not reliable and credible evidence.
“The CAN leadership has reached out to the leadership of the block which the Pastor in question belongs with a view to getting to the root of the matter.
“This will help us to make the right decision on the issue,” he said.
It would be recalled that there was protest march to COZA church in Abuja, yesterday by #Church Too Movement.
It was also revealed that Busola Dakolo, a photographer and wife of musician, Timi Dakolo, had accused Fatoyinbo of rape.
Mrs Dakolo is the second high profile person after Ese Walter to accuse Fatoyinbo of rape.

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Black Tuesday In Yola As Trailer Kills 20 Persons

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No fewer than 20 persons were reportedly crushed to death after a trailer loaded with farming produce overran several tricycles popularly known as Keke Napep, yesterday, at Vinikling bridge (Hayin Gada) in Yola, Adamawa State.
Residents told our correspondent that the accident was caused by police officers, who were pursuing the truck driver for refusing to give them money.
A resident of Viniklang, Malam Umar Shehu, who also sent pictures of the accident to newsmen, said he participated in evacuation of corpses to the hospital in Yola.
According to him, the explanation the police gave was that, they were chasing the truck driver for carrying goods suspected to be foreign rice, a situation which led to the unfortunate incident, resulting in the death of many.
“But, there was no foreign rice in the truck, it was farm produce. The driver said they were chasing him for refusing to give them money at a checkpoint the police mounted,” Umar said.
One of the passengers, a student at the Modibo Adama University, who identified himself as Salisu Ibrahim said he narrowly escaped death by whiskers.
“I did not know what happened, but we suddenly saw the truck coming with speed and police van was pursuing it. All of us in our Keke Napep jumped out and fled, the driver lost control and the truck began to hit other Keke Napep and crushing people before our very own eyes. It was horrific,” Ibrahim said.
Our correspondent, however, made several attempts to get Othman Abubakar, the Police Public Relations Officer in Adamawa to speak but his phone was switched off at the time of this report.

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Senate’ll Pass 2020 Budget On Nov 28, Lawan Insists

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President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan, has asked the Committee on Appropriations to lay its report on the 2020 budget on November 26, for consideration and passage before the end of the month.
Lawan, who stated this at plenary, yesterday, commended the various committees for rounding off their budget defence sessions on schedule.
He insisted that the resolve of the National Assembly to revert to the January-to-December budget cycle remained sacrosanct.
He said, “All the committees have done their works so well within the defined parameters.
“Therefore, we expect the appropriations committee to galvanise into action.
“They (members of the appropriations committee) should produce the report to be laid here on the 26th November, which is the next two weeks, before the Senate.
“I believe this will be the same thing in our sister chamber, the House of Representatives, so that we would be able to pass the 2020 Appropriation Bill on the 28th of November”, he added.
Also, the Senate, yesterday, appealed to the Federal Government to ban importation of textiles in the country for a period of five years to allow for the production of local textile materials.
This followed the debate on a motion sponsored by Sen. Kabir Barkiya (APC-Katsina Central) during plenary on “Urgent need to revamp the nation’s comatose textile industry”.
The upper chamber also appealed to the Federal Government to provide the necessary infrastructural facilities especially power supply to local textile manufacturing companies to revamp the industry.
It also called on the government to encourage local textile manufacturing companies by providing them with soft loans and easy access to credit facilities through the Bank of Industry.
Debating the motion, Barkiya noted that the textile industry in the country played a significant role in the manufacturing sector of the Nigerian economy with a record of over 140 companies in the 1960s and 1970s.
“The textile industry recorded an annual growth of 67 per cent and as at 1991, employed above 25 per cent of the workers in the manufacturing sector.
“The textile industry was then the highest employer of labour apart from the civil service.”
He noted that the industry had witnessed massive decline in the last two decades with many textile companies such as Kaduna Textile, Kano Textile and Aba Textile, among others, closing shops and throwing their workers into the job market.
The lawmaker further said that government policies like increase in taxation, high cost of production, trade liberalisation resulting in massive importation of textile materials had negatively affected the production of local textile materials.
Barkiya said that the resuscitation of the industry would provide additional revenue and assist government to diversify the nation’s economy.
Contributing, Deputy Senate Leader, Sen. Robert Boroffice (APC-Ondo North) said that the importation of textile materials was as a result of the comatose level of the textile industry.
“The closure of our borders is an eye opener. China closed its borders for 40 years for its industrialisation and development.
“I believe that the closure our borders should be extended to allow us put our house in order.”
Boroffice said that the extension of the closure of the borders would serve as an opportunity to resuscitate the textile industry, among other industries that had been characterised by smuggling.
But Senate Minority Leader, Sen. Eyinnaya Abaribe (PDP-Abia South), who disagreed with Boroffice on the fact that the closure of the borders would help revamp the industry, said that “closing the borders and doing nothing will not lead to increase in production of textiles.
“The real problems have been indicated; first, is the fact that we are unable to produce the cotton that we need.
“But far more important is the fact of power. Power was the key problem that made most of the textile mills closed.
“Once it became very difficult after 1982 for industries to be supplied with power and they needed to switch over to now produce their own power in order to do production, it became a lose, lose situation for most of the industrialists.”
Abaribe called on the Federal Government to do the fundamental, power, to ensure that the smuggling of textile products was done away with.
Similarly, Sen. Gabriel Suswam (PDP-Benue North-East) said that without power, no meaningful profit would be realised in any manufacturing industry in the country.
Suswam, who called on the government to address the issue in the power sector, said that if this was done, the manufacturers would be able to make profit.
“If we take concrete actions on these issues, our economy will be enhanced, the welfare of the people will be enhanced, insecurity and by extension, criminality, will be reduced,” he said.
In his remark, the President of the Senate, Dr Ahmad Lawan said that as Nigeria had signed the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement, “we have to be prepared for the repercussions.
“We cannot stop trading easily with other people. We have to up our game; we need to be competitive,” Lawan said.
Meanwhile, the House of Representatives has called on the Federal Government, through the Nigerian Customs Service to lift the ban on the sales of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) within 20km to the country’s borders.
It would be recalled that last Thursday, the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), had directed that no petroleum products should be supplied to any filling station within 20 kilometres to the borders.
A member, Hon Sada Soli, moved a motion of urgent national importance at the plenary, yesterday, asking that the order by the NCS should be vacated.
According to him, the order by the customs boss contravenes the provisions of the Customs and Excise Act.
Soli argued that the filling stations asked not to sell petrol close to the borders were situated and constructed in compliance with relevant laws.
“This is not acceptable! Review this directive with a human face,” he stated.
Several lawmakers, who seconded the motion, criticised the policy while lamenting the hardships being faced by people living in border communities.

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RSHA Passes 2010 Medium Term Expenditure Framework

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The Rivers State House of Assembly, yesterday, passed the 2020 Medium Term Expenditure Framework Document.
This follows a letter sent to it by the state Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike and read by the Speaker, Rt Hon. Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani during plenary.
He explained that the request was to pave way for the Executive to plan the 2020 fiscal year budget.
Presenting the documents to the House, Leader of the House and member representing ObioAkpor 1, Hon Martins Amaewhule appealed to members to grant the governor’s request to enable the Executive present the 2020 budget.
His appeal was supported by the Chief Whip, Hon. Evans Bipi.
Ruling on the matter, the speaker divided the House for vote, and 22 members supported the request.
Meanwhile, the House Ad-hoc Committee on serial killings in the state chaired by member representing Omuma State Constituency, Hon. Kelechi Wogu has presented its report.
Wogu, who read the recommendations on the floor, charged security agencies to ensure that the lead suspect to the crime, one Gracious David-West was prosecuted.
But the speaker while receiving the report said it was subjudice to further debate on the matter, since the matter was in the court.
Consequently, the Health Protection Programme Bill has passed first reading.
The Executive bill was presented by Amaewhule, who explained that it seeks to improve on the activities of government in the healthcare sector.
The House leader appealed to his colleagues to pass the bill considering its numerous benefits, but the speaker stressed the need for the bill to be fully studied for proper inputs by the legislators in the next sitting.

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