The BBC, in collaboration with international media platform Open Democracy, has conducted a two-year investigation revealing evidence of widespread abuse and torture by the late founder of one of the world’s largest Christian evangelical churches, the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan).
The late Nigerian preacher, TB Joshua, is accused by dozens of former church members, including five British nationals, of committing atrocities spanning nearly two decades, including rape, forced abortions, physical violence, and torture.
The investigation, the first time multiple former church insiders have spoken on the record, includes over 25 former “disciples” from various countries, sharing powerful corroborating testimonies of their traumatic experiences within the church. Victims describe instances of rape, forced abortions, and severe physical abuse, with some comparing their experiences to being in a cult. The allegations also include details of Joshua faking “miracle healings” broadcasted to millions worldwide.
One victim, a British woman known as Rae, spent 12 years as a disciple within Joshua’s secretive compound in Lagos. She alleges sexual assault, solitary confinement, and multiple suicide attempts due to the severity of the abuse. Numerous other victims, from countries such as Namibia and the UK, reported similar harrowing experiences, including being stripped, beaten with electrical cables and horse whips, and routinely denied sleep.
Despite the serious allegations, the Synagogue Church of All Nations did not respond to the BBC’s investigation but denied previous claims against TB Joshua, stating that “making unfounded allegations against Prophet TB Joshua is not a new occurrence.”
The BBC’s inquiry also revealed attempts to raise the alarm in the past, with witnesses claiming to have been physically attacked or shot at after speaking out against the abuse. A BBC crew attempting to record footage of the church’s Lagos compound was fired at by the church’s security, leading to their detention for several hours.
Several British citizens who escaped the church reported the abuse to UK authorities, but they claim no further action was taken. Additionally, a British couple emailed eyewitness accounts and video evidence to the British High Commission in Nigeria in 2010, detailing being held at gunpoint and instances of sexual assault and rape. The commission reportedly took no action.
Despite TB Joshua’s death in June 2021, Scoan continues to operate under the leadership of Joshua’s widow, Evelyn. Former church members, such as Anneka from the UK, advocate for a thorough investigation into the church’s practices, hoping to uncover the truth behind Joshua’s actions and bring justice to the victims.