By Austin Oniyokor
Shall we say the Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo/Busola Dakolo issue has reached a denouement the Nigerian way? I asked the preceding question because after the initial hue and cry that greeted Busola’s interview and the drama over the Police invitation, nothing much has been heard of the incident until yesterday when the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) said its committee was through with its inquest into the allegations of rape against Fatoyinbo without the flamboyant cleric attending any of its sessions.
The irony of the situation was that PFN said it had concluded its sittings but could not reach a conclusion on the issue because Fatoyinbo shunned and spurned its several invitations. Hence, the exercise was declared inconclusive! Yes, that word from our political lexicon has also crept into the religious circle.
According to media reports, the PFN National Publicity Secretary, Bishop Emma Isong, said the committee interacted with the parties involved in the matter but Fatoyinbo who did not honour invitations despite repeated efforts by the committee members and leadership of the Christian body.
Isong said the panel met for more than a month and interfaced with several parties that were connected with this matter. Regrettably, Pastor Fatoyinbo never honoured the panel’s invitation despite his initial request for PFN’s intervention in the matter.
Here is the crux of the matter: how could someone who initially sought the intervention of the Christian body suddenly get cold feet so much that he would shun the several invitations of the body? Conversely – and quite ironically too, Busola Dakolo and her husband, Timi, were said to have honoured the panel’s invitation.
Without mincing words, Fatoyinbo’s failure to honour the panel’s invitations, either directly or in a representative capacity, speaks volume. It either speaks of his scant regard for the Christian body or betrays the fact that he has something to hide. And of course, loss of confidence could also be another probable reason.
But, if any or all of the possibilities were the case, what would happen to the investigation we are made to believe is being carried out by the Police? Would he honour it? Or would the same issues of lack of confidence and scant regard for institutions come to play? If that happens, what would be the reaction of the Police authorities and the general public?
When the matter raged, Fatoyinbo, after his initial grandstanding, stepped down from officiating in the church and cancelled its annual “Seven Days of Glory” programme. But, barely a month after, he has returned to the pulpit as if nothing happened or does not owe the Christian body, the society and indeed all Nigerians any explanations. No, he does. To some, he is a role model; and to others, he is a leader. To that extent, he owes them and the larger society of Christians and non-Christians some explanations – and even penitence beyond the mere symbolism of a month stand down.
With the turn of events, the PFN and its umbrella body, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) have a duty to the body of Christ, Nigerians and the world at large, to rise up to the occasion and take a decisive action on this issue. They should not allow any of its members or member-organisations to take them for a ride, treat them with utter contempt and get away with it. Otherwise, a dangerous precedent will be set.
Although I reckon with the views expressed by Pastor Poju Oyemade on the weak structures of the Pentecostal churches unlike the orthodox churches where you are appointed a pastor and can be easily sanctioned.
Notwithstanding the structural issues in the Pentecostal churches in Nigeria, the leadership of the church in Nigeria has a duty to do what is right and take appropriate steps against anyone who is reasonably believed to have abused his calling or office and capable of bringing the body of Christ into ridicule; and yet carries on as if he is untouchable and above the law. This is without prejudice to the outcome of the ongoing Police investigations.
By the way, not much has been heard of the court action that Fatoyinbo threatened when Busola accused him of raping her when she was 17. With all these, shall we say the matter has reached a denouement or not? Time, the greatest revealer, will tell.
Moments after this piece was written, Pastor Fatoyinbo issued a statement to the effect that he failed to honour the panel’s invitations based on “legal advice” from his lawyers which was “premised on the press statement issued and personally signed by the PFN President, Bishop Felix Omobude” where he publicly disowned him.
On the one hand, he said he was convinced “beyond reasonable doubt that PFN was already prejudiced and may not conduct an impartial session”. On the other hand, he assured that he would appear before the panel after the conclusion of the police investigation. What a contradiction! Was Omobude a member of the panel? Interesting times lie ahead!