The dark secrets of televangelist TB Joshua’s cult

TB Joshua, the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations who died on June 6, 2021.

Photo credit: File | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Numerous victims were subjected to unsafe and non-consensual abortions, using medically unregulated objects that were inserted in their genitalia to extract foetuses.
  • One of the rooms within the building was secretly used as an abortion clinic.

Perpetrators of abuse often isolate their victims, stopping them from interacting with the general population and restraining them from deciphering the extensive system of oppression in the relationship.

In When Pastors Prey: Overcoming Clergy Sexual Abuse of Women, author Valli Boobal Batchelor states that isolation is the most dominant ploy used in most forms of abuses.

This strategy is exploited to devastating effect by many church leaders, including Pastor Temitope Balogun (TB) Joshua.

Televangelist, creator of Emmanuel TV and founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan), TB Joshua mesmerised thousands of congregants for 30 years.

He exploited the desperation of his audience with televised ‘miracles’, claiming to cure terminal illnesses.

He founded Scoan in 1987 at Ikotun in the Northwest of Lagos, Nigeria. He strategically located it near Ikeja, where the Murtala Muhammed International Airport is.

This was to capitalise on the thousands of foreign visitors flying into Lagos.

TB Joshua had a huge presence on social media platforms as well. His YouTube channel had over one million subscribers.

In 2011, Forbes magazine listed him as Nigeria's third wealthiest evangelist.

But behind the facade of this charismatic evangelist was a hypocrite who operated a cult anchored on manipulation, coercive control and sexual violence.

He handed one of his enablers, Bisola Johnson, the title of coordinator of international visitors.

It was also Bisola's mandate to secretly scout for underage virgins for Joshua, call and wait for instructions from him on which staircase entrance to use, while guiding the girls to his top-floor master bedroom.

When Joshua built his multi-storey synagogue in the Ikotun neighbourhood, he instructed the architects to provide multiple staircase entrances that led to his bedroom in an effort to cover up his paedophiliac tendencies.

For 14 years, Bisola secretly led underage girls to Joshua's bedroom using the entrances.

The preacher also targeted young unmarried foreign female visitors and integrated them as administrators and preachers of Scoan and Emmanuel TV.

He preferred girls in their late adolescence, given their gullibility and susceptibility to manipulation.

It was Bisola's mantle to scout vulnerable naive and trustful travellers, who had arrived from South Africa, the US and the UK.

She would identify them, direct them to TB Joshua's office and the pastor would falsely inform them that God instructed him that they shouldn't return to their nations.

They were integrated into the synagogue's senior policy delegation and were often summoned to Joshua's suite, where he repeatedly raped them.

TB Joshua was well versed in the psychological effects of coercive control, a pattern of acts of threats, humiliation and intimidation used to harm, punish or frighten victims.

According to When Pastors Prey, coercive control deprives victims of basic needs, such as food, monitoring and involves controlling their time and activities throughout the day and using hidden cameras to spy on their daily routines.

The cover of When Pastors and Priests Prey – Identifying, Preventing and Overcoming Clergy Sexual Abuse of Women.

Photo credit: Photo I Pool

The gates of Scoan had an armed security detail at all the entrances to prevent the synagogue's personnel from leaving without Joshua's permission.

Deliberations between residents weren't allowed and when any of them wished to eat, sleep or shower, they had to request his permission.

They slept for about three hours daily and were made to believe that sleep was ungodly.

As a result of sleep deprivation, they would hallucinate and their thought process gradually became distorted.


Any infringement that was deemed to disobey TB Joshua's coercive control was met with physical assault.

He developed a habit of slapping, hitting and viciously flogging his subjects.

 Amidst that habitual abuse, his sexual violence against underage girls worsened. Several of the girls he defiled fell pregnant.

One of the rooms within the building was secretly used as an abortion clinic.

TB Joshua's numerous victims were subjected to unsafe and non-consensual abortions, using medically unregulated objects that were inserted in their genitalia to extract foetuses.

Due to the high number of foreign visitors at Scoan, Joshua had rapidly constructed another multiple-storey building next to his church facility.

The facility was popularly known as the guest house and its construction flouted Nigerian building and road research architectural regulations.

On September 12, 2014, the building collapsed, killing 116 people, 84 of whom were South Africans who had travelled to Lagos in a blinded effort to receive healing for their chronic and terminal ailments.

Lagos-based High Court judge Lateef Lawal-Akapo found TB Joshua liable for the deaths, but the cleric used his wealth and influence to get off scot-free, ignoring court summonses without repercussions.

When Bisola began speaking out on how the preacher had raped her and several other women within the synagogue, TB ordered her assassination.

Bisola fled to Cotonou Benin and later to Accra, Ghana, after her car was repeatedly shot at by Scoan assassins. TB Joshua died under mysterious circumstances on June 5, 2021.

The writer is a novelist, Big Brother Africa 2 Kenyan representative and founder of Jeff's Fitness Centre (@jeffbigbrother).