The leadership and succession crises at the Synagogue Church of All Nations may not be over as a member of the Board of Trustees, Joseph David, has raised the alarm over alleged threats to his life and those of other leaders of the ministry.
David, who has gone into hiding with other disciples of the late founder of the church, Prophet Temitope Joshua, aka TB Joshua, claimed that the family of the founder was using law enforcement agents to hunt them.
He said this was because of their perceived closeness to the late cleric and supposed knowledge of important details of the church not known to the family.
He alleged that the wife of the founder, Evelyn Joshua, was making spirited attempts to consolidate power around her, adding that influential followers of TB Joshua had been chased away, including foreigners.
He said, “The ministry had disciples, who handled the operation, administration and spiritual affairs of the church. Among them were five prophets, who were always with Prophet TB Joshua.
“The prophet’s wife was never active in the administration of the church. She only functioned ceremoniously, maybe to receive awards for him.
Before the prophet passed on, he was interviewed by a newspaper, where he answered the question of succession. He said the church is not a family thing, and that was why his wife was not always seen with him.
“Around the period he granted the interview, he had removed her from being a trustee of the church. But she did not know she had been removed until he died.”
David said after TB Joshua’s death, the church had two trustees left – the cleric’s daughter, Promise Joshua, and himself.
He noted that trouble started during a meeting to fill the space left by the late cleric, who was the third trustee of the church.
The Yaba College of Technology graduate said two family members – the prophet’s first daughter and his wife – were suggested by a group, adding that he kicked against it to avoid being easily overrun and removed by the family members.
The 52-year-old said he suggested that if the duo would join, then more non-family members should be added to make for balance of power, an idea that was rejected by the family, as the meeting ended without a resolution.
The evangelist said from that point, there was mutual suspicion between the family and the group of disciples led by him.
He said the suspicion was fuelled by the fear of the family that they were in possession of things that the family did not know about.
“Actually, immediately the man of God passed on, the wife started investigating us and our accounts. We don’t take salaries, and we are not exposed to any issue of money.
“But due to suspicion, she took over the administration of the ministry. All the workers started reporting to her.
“For the 27 years that I was in that ministry, she never handled any matter of administration. But she started making people turn their backs on the disciples, saying we are thieves and robbers. As a result, church workers started refusing instructions.
“Our movement was restricted; our personal freedom was infringed on. We could not shout because we thought this was a family issue and we could bear it,” he added.
David said a man was later asked to mediate between the disciples and the family, adding that the intervention did not work out.
He said his group later decided to concede to the family and allow TB Joshua’s wife take over the running of the church.
The cleric said the disciples were, however, shocked when he reached out to the mediator and they were told that the situation had reached a “gunpowder status.”
“He said for us to avoid the disaster that was coming, all of us as disciples must come together and sign an undertaking to declare Mrs Evelyn Joshua as the new GO of the church and we must sign an undertaking to be of good behaviour. And we should forward all that to him and maybe he would ‘unwalk’ the situation to avoid the trouble that was coming. We saw this as a threat, and we did not know how to respond to his message,” he added.
David noted that the matter reached a climax on September 9 when the family allegedly invited some church members and declared Evelyn as the chairman of the board of trustees and general overseer after obtaining a court order.
Simultaneously, he said security agents went to the Prayer Mountain and dragged out some of the disciples after taking their phones, adding that some workers in the church were also taken to the gallery.
He said, “That evening, all the Nigerian evangelists of TB Joshua, some of whom had stayed with the prophet for 28 to 29 years, the least is 20 years, were sent out.
“But before then, their second daughter, Promise, came with letters from the EFCC and distributed to them before they left.
“Most of the prophets, both Nigerian and foreign, she accused them of theft, fraud and money laundering. After she removed the Nigerians, she threatened the foreign ones that they should go back to their countries. Madam said she did not want any discipleship again.