Evidence of widespread abuse and torture by the founder of one of the world’s biggest Christian evangelical churches has been uncovered by the BBC.
Dozens of ex-Synagogue Church of all Nations members – five British – allege atrocities, including rape and forced abortions, by Nigeria’s 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 charismatic and hugely successful preacher and televangelist who had an immense global following.
More than 25 former “disciples” spoke to the BBC – from the UK, Nigeria, US, South Africa, Ghana, Namibia and Germany – giving powerful corroborating testimony about their experiences within the church, with the most recent experiences 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 co-ordination with other UK churches.
Rae and multiple other interviewees compared their experiences to being in a cult.
Jessica Kaimu, from Namibia, says her ordeal lasted more than five years. She says she was 17 when Joshua first raped her, and that subsequent instances of rape by TB Joshua led to her having five forced abortions while there.
“These were backdoor type… medical treatments that we were going through… it could have killed us,” she told the BBC.
Other interviewees say they were stripped and beaten with electrical cables and horse whips, and routinely denied sleep.
On his death in June 2021, TB Joshua was hailed as one of the most influential pastors in African history. 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 lifetime when a guesthouse for church pilgrims collapsed in 2014, killing at least 116 people.
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 the BBC 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.