Who was TB Joshua? Inside the life of 'cult' leader accused of sexually abusing 'hundreds' of young women - and did he really spend 15 months in his mother's womb?

Daily Mail, UK/January 8, 2024

By Elizabeth Haigh

Temitope Balogun Joshua was worshipped by millions as a Christian preacher who claimed to perform countless miraculous healings and speaking with the word of God.

Upon his death on June 5, 2021 the church he founded in 1987, the Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN), had hundreds of millions of followers and had made him possibly the most recognisable Christian leader in Africa.

Joshua found international fame and recruited thousands of people from across the world, including the UK and other European countries.

But he has now been accused of running a 'cult' and perpetrating physical and sexual abuse against 'hundreds' of his followers in a new BBC Africa Eye documentary 'Disciples: The Cult of TB Joshua'.

From claims he spent 15 months in his mother's womb to being warmly welcomed by international leaders, MailOnline reveals the preacher's rise to revered religious leader.

Temitope Balogun Joshua, known as TB Joshua, founded an evangelical Christian church called the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in 1987

TB Joshua was born into poverty on June 12, 1963 in the village of Arigidi in Ondo State, south-west Nigeria.

He received little formal education, failing to finish secondary school, and moved to Lagos as a young man, initially finding work on a farm.

He is believed to have worked until founding SCOAN in his mid-20s, with early videos showing him and a couple of dozen followers gathered under a bamboo marquee in the late 1980s.

Precious little is known about his early life that can be verified - but Joshua has repeatedly made wild claims about his origins which are still repeated as facts by his church today.

SCOAN claims Joshua spent 15 months in his mother's womb before his birth, and that he became a Christian as an unborn baby during this time.

There are no records to substantiate any claim that Joshua had anything but a normal development period and birth.

He attended St. Stephen Anglican Primary School between 1971 and 1977, before dropping out during the first year of secondary school to earn a living.

His teachers are said to have called him a 'little pastor' because of his religious upbringing and great love of the Bible.

He married his wife Evelyn in 1990, and the couple had three children. Joshua also had a fourth child, who he has previously been accused of mistreating due to her not being born of his marriage.

By the 1990s, TB Joshua was building SCOAN into an international movement. He first began recruiting western 'disciples' in the early 2000s.

At its peak, tens of thousands of people would travel to Lagos to attend each of TB Joshua's services.

He enjoyed the patronage and visits of the Nigerian President, as well as former Presidents of Ghana and Malawi, John Atta Mills and Joyce Banda.

Joshua was thought to be worth millions of pounds by the time of his death, with donations to the church pouring in from all over the world.

But his organisation has been plagued in scandal for years, including just months before his demise when his popular streaming service, Emmanuel TV, was suspended from YouTube over alleged homophobia by Joshua.

The pastor had posted videos in which he claimed to 'cure' people of their homosexuality - including by beatings.

TB Joshua had previously been criticised for claiming to be able to cure fatal diseases such as cancer, HIV and AIDs. Insiders say such miraculous healings are actually the result of minor health conditions being exaggerated and labelled as far more serious issues.

During the Ebola outbreak, he made headlines again after sending 4,000 bottles of 'blessed' water to people with the disease, claiming it could cure them.

It came less than a year after four people died in a stampede in Ghana as people rushed to get their hands on his alleged 'healing water', which was being handed out at an event.

But perhaps the most controversial incident occurred in September 2014, when a guesthouse within the compound collapsed into rubble, killing at least 116 people.

The building housed around 300 foreign tourists, many of whom were from South Africa, who had paid large sums of money to visit the church.

Two days later, TB Joshua went ahead with his Sunday service almost as if nothing had happened. It is likely some of the victims were still alive, trapped under the rubble at the time.

Incredibly, he claimed that a hostile party had used an 'infrasonic' weapon against the guesthouse, launched from a low-flying plane. In the weeks that followed he said the 'attack' was an assassination attempt against him.

A thorough investigation concluded in 2015 that the building actually collapsed after being overbuilt - extra floors had been added without reinforcements being made to its foundations.

There was no attack, and SCOAN were found to be criminally negligent. No-one has ever been prosecuted over the tragedy.

Joshua died on June 5, 2021, of unconfirmed causes - although it was previously reported that he had suffered a stroke shortly before his death. He was 57.

Some of his followers later claimed he had foreseen his own death. HIs wife, Evelyn Joshua, now runs SCOAN.

BBC Africa Eye investigation 'Disciples: The Cult of TB Joshua' is a three-part documentary now on BBC iPlayer. It is also available on BBC Sounds as the new season of the podcast 'World of Secrets'.

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