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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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Gov Fubara Tasks Youths On Useful Ideas To Drive Economic Prosperity

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Rivers State Governor, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, has said that it is time for youths in the State to spend more time among themselves fine-tuning ideas they have cultivated on how to contribute productively to the economy instead of waiting to be employed in the public sector.
The Governor explained that jobs in the public sector are becoming less available, adding that with greater peace prevailing in the State, making it ripe for investors to explore its business climate, Rivers youths must be ready with ideas, skills and determination to engage critical players in order to benefit from it, directly or indirectly.
Governor Fubara, gave the charge when he received members of the Rivers State Youth Leaders’ Assembly, who were on a Solidarity Street Show-Rally in his honour, at Government House Gate in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
Represented by the Head of Rivers Civil Service, Dr George Nwaeke, the Governor noted the commendable level of education acquired by most youths of the State, coupled with the moral training espoused to them by their parents but added that without the discipline of subjecting themselves to thinking out of the box on productive ideas that can be translated into economic gains, their potentials will remain untapped.
He said: “You have already subjected yourselves to the rigours of education. Not just education, you also have very good upbringing that has produced you to become wonderful people that you are.
”You have also queued behind the Governor, not out of compulsion. No one came to compel you. It’s time for us to sit down and have some sober reflection.
”Why are we now begging for arms now? There was a time you could just walk down to Trans-Amadi Industrial Layout, and get something to do that could feed you for a week or two. What we have lost is what Governor Fubara wants to recover and recreate.
”Your ideas will be highly welcome by the Governor. You have to join him to make the Youth Resource Centre productive. This resource centre is going to be a place where youths will churn out ideas of what needs to be done to move the State to the next level. That place is where you need to go to contribute your quota to the development of the State.”
Governor Fubara explained the reason behind the Youth Resource Centre whose foundation has been laid, adding that it will cater to all youth development issues in the State, and also serve as reservoir of productive ideas from youths.
The Governor emphasised that the propelling vision of his administration for youths is to have a State that is reborn to reflect the dreams of the founding fathers who made sure there were productive industries and vibrant economy that offered varied opportunities to everybody.
He said, “the Governor has gone a step ahead, knowing that he is within the age bracket you define as youth. This is because he understands how you feel. He knows your pains, and where it pinches.
“That is why the Rivers State Youth Resource Centre is being built. It will be a youth development resource centre. So, be part of it, work to be active in that centre. The government expects useful ideas from thinking minds.
“So, we have hope because the youths that we have here today have something to offer. Come up with tangible ideas. What do you think that we can do? How can we create jobs for our people?”
He stated: “Let me tell you, I am an economist, and I know that government alone cannot create all the jobs. Government creates conducive environment for jobs to be created so that people can earn decent income.
“Just last week Wednesday and Thursday, we had Rivers State Economic and Investment Summit. Discussions were centred on how government can create an environment to woo investors to come to Rivers State. That is the journey we want you to be part of.”
In his address, leader of the delegation and Speaker of Rivers State Youth Leaders’ Assembly, Dr Prince Tonye Jeminimiema, said under the leadership of Governor Fubara, the State has witnessed remarkable progress in infrastructure, healthcare, education, economic and human capital development.
Dr Jeminimiema also noted the unwavering commitment of the Governor to improve the lives of the citizenry, adding that they are resolved to continue to support his administration.
He said, “The achievements reflect your dedication to the comprehensive development of Rivers State and demonstrates a clear vision for a properous future.
“We, the members of the Rivers State Youth Leaders’ Assembly, are here today, not only to express our profound appreciation to you as our Grand Patron but also to seek your continued support in several critical areas that will further enhance our collective mission and vision.”
He listed some of the key areas of need, and pledged the determination of the youths to rally support for the Governor to ensure that his administration succeeds in delivering good governance to Rivers people.

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FG Moves To Bridge Metering Error Gaps In Oil, Gas

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The Federal Government says it will purchase up-to-date equipment to bridge the gap between metering errors noticed in petroleum products and the required standard.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Amb. Nura Rimi, said this at a three-day workshop on the Administration of the International Organisation of Legal Metrology Certification System (OIML-CS) in Abuja yesterday.
The workshop was organised for zonal coordinators of Weight and Measure Department of the ministry.
Rimi, represented by Mr Dafung Sule, the Director, Federal Produce Inspectorate Services of the ministry, said the equipment would be purchased at the implementation of the 2024 budget.
He said the workshop was part of efforts to curb the losses currently being lost which was caused by poor metering.
“What has brought us here is one of the things we have to do to ensure that we do not loose the billions that we are currently loosing that is to build our capacity and that is just one aspect of it.
“On the equipment, in the 2024 budget which has not kick started, there are a lot of equipment that are lined up for purchase by the weights and measures department.
“This will bridge the gap between the errors being noticed in the metering and the required standard,” he said.
On the payment of the OIML subscription which the country was owing, the permanent secretary said it would be paid by September.
He said the payment would help to give the country the kind of outlook that the international has given us.
OIML is an “international standard-setting body” in the sense of the World Trade Organisation’s Technical Barriers to Trade Agreement.
On his part, Mr Bamidele Olajide, the Director, Weight and Measure Department of the ministry, said it was part of the preparation towards signing up to the OIML-CS.
The implication of signing up to the System was that signatories would be obliged to accept pattern approval certificates and test results from other countries.
“The OIML-CS will promote fair and accurate trade transactions by ensuring that trade measuring instruments used in Nigeria are fit for purpose.
“The OIML-CS will also promote trade among countries by removing technical barriers to trade.
“This is achieved by removing the need to subject imported trade measuring instruments to another round of conformity assessment tests,” he said.
Some of the zonal coordinators, who spoke at the workshop emphasised the need for the upgrade of their working equipment and tools.
Mr Garba Mustapha, the South-South Zonal Coordinator of the Weight and Measure Department, FMITI, said the zone had the potential to generate revenue for the country.
Mustapha said the potential were being drawn back by obsolete or poor equipment.
Mrs Cordelia Nwachukwu, from the Lagos State Zonal Office, said that most people were unaware of the functions of the department.
Nwachukwu, who said that legal metrology was dynamic, suggested the use of technology to meet with international trends.
The Tide source reports that the department is saddled with the responsibility to ensure that all commercial transactions involving measurement are fair, accurate and legal with a view to protecting the consumers.
The Tide source reports that the workshop attracted zonal coordinators of the department from the six geo-political zones.

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Investment In Children, Best Legacy -Lady Fubara ….Urges Crackdown On Child Labour, Trafficking …•Hosts Rivers Children To Party

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Wife of the Rivers State Governor, Lady Valerie Siminalayi Fubara, has stated that the most enduring legacy is investment in children to harness their full potential for self-development and positive impact on the larger society.
This is even as the Rivers State First Lady has called on relevant government agencies to intensify measures towards achieving total crackdown on practices that promote child labour and trafficking.
Lady Fubara stated these while speaking at twin activities by the State Government to mark the 2024 Children’s Day celebrations in Port Harcourt on Monday.
Speaking shortly after taking salute during the official march past at the Sharks Football Club Stadium, Port Harcourt, Lady Fubara, who applauded the theme of this year’s celebration: “Investing in the Future Means Investing in our Children,” called for the prioritisation of the development and wellbeing of children, noting that such investment transcends the individual and has ripple effects on the larger society.
She said, “Today, when we’re gathered to celebrate Children’s Day, we are reminded of the invaluable treasure we hold in our hands, the promise of our future, embodied in their innocence, curiosity and boundless potentials of our children, the theme of this year’s celebration: ‘investing in the future means investing in our children’ underscores our responsibility towards generations to come.
“These responsibilities”, she pointed out, “involve nurturing, guiding and inspiring our children to be architects of a brighter future.”
She further explained that investing in children goes beyond mere provision of basic needs of ensuring assess to education and healthcare which are essential components, but involves creating an enabling environment that fosters their holistic development, intellectually, socially, emotionally and ethically.
According to her, “Investment in our children is about instituting in them the values of compassion, empathy and responsibility for diversity, laying the foundation of a society built on inclusivity and understanding, instilling in them the skills of knowledge and understanding to navigate an ever changing world.”
While speaking at the party organised for children in the State at Government House, Port Harcourt, with the theme: ‘For Every Child, Every Right’, the Rivers First Lady pointed to how inimical child labour and trafficking are in hampering healthy growth and well-being of children, which therefore, should be tackled head-on.
She said: “It is apparent that more efforts still need to be made to continue tackling issues related to our children’s growth and well-being, especially in the area of child labour and trafficking, which are endemic in our society today.
“I call on relevant government agencies to step up the campaign against such evil practices and ensure the safety of our children as they remain the hope of our nation and the potential leaders of tomorrow.
“I urge parents not to be unduly pressured, either by the temporary economic challenges or by societal influences, to engage in such inhuman practice of child labour or trafficking. It is not only an evil against humanity, but also a sin against God,” she said.
Lady Fubara said it is a privilege for her to host children in the State, who are the future hope of society, on such auspicious occasion, and to share in their joy on a day designated for them globally.
The First Lady of the State emphasised that in evaluating the priority of the day, it was pertinent to focus on what the Rivers State Government has started doing for them under the watch of her husband, Sir Siminalayi Fubara, particularly in prioritising their education.
Lady Fubara said: “Several policy initiatives are being taken to rebrand and reposition the educational sector, by strengthening the operations and promoting the emergence of SMART Schools through the remodeling of infrastructure and upgrading of learning equipment.
“I am aware that this administration has taken up examination fees for school children and further purchased books and instructional materials to deepen teaching and improve learning.
“We are truly grateful to His Excellency, the Governor, for always thinking ahead to cater for our children. This clearly demonstrates our determined efforts at building the future we definitely want to see, if we want a tomorrow with great men and women.”
Lady Fubara stated the need for sustained but deliberate efforts in planning for the future with greater investment made that will manifest in the well-being of children.
She recalled the recent gesture of the wife of Nigeria’s President, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, who, with the ‘Renewed Hope Initiative’, allowed her office coordinate the donation of 50,000 exercise books to public schools in Rivers State.
She said, “This effort was to ensure that our children do not lack the basic materials required of them to engage in the learning process.
“Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, we are here to celebrate our children, and we must continue to pray for them and to guide them according to the dictates of God Almighty, who gave them to us to look after.”
Earlier in her welcome address, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation, Dr Justina Jumbo, had stated that prioritizing the welfare of children was paramount, especially in this period of prevailing social and moral decadence in our society.
She said the celebration of Children’s Day helps to bring issues bothering on the welfare of children to the fore, and urged governments at all levels and the private sector to refocus their plans by investing in the future of the children.
The events featured march past, presentation of gifts to participating schools, unity dance performed by 23 children representing the LGAs of the State and other forms of games.
At the nursery category, Family Support Nursery School emerged first position in the march past, while UPE Model Nursery School, Bundu came second.
At Primary School Category, Police Children School emerged first position, while State Primary School, Elekahia, and Distinct Victory Field came second and third, respectively.
Government Comprehensive Secondary School, Borokiri, came first at the junior secondary category, while Butterstone and Sunrise Secondary schools came second and third, respectively.
For the Senior Secondary Schools’ category, Model Secondary School, GRA, Port Harcourt, came first, while Vivid Model School and Government Secondary School Borokiri came second and third, respectively.
For the paramilitary category, Police Comprehensive Secondary School, came first, while Nigeria Navy Secondary School, Borkiri came second.
Lady Fubara, accompanied by some dignitaries, cut the 2024 Children’s Day Party Cake at Government House playground.

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