TW: This article contains discussions on sexual abuse, rape, sexual coercion and confinement.
The TB Joshua BBC film is an investigative documentary by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) consisting of three parts, chronicling the atrocious acts and sexual offenses perpetrated by the infamous Pastor Temitope Balogun Joshua (TB. Joshua), leader and founder of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN).
The Documentary starts on an eerie note with a jingle clip of Emmanuel TV ( SCOAN’s round-the-clock TV station that broadcasts the miracles and preaching of TB Joshua ). Then it cuts into clips of congregants of SCOAN in a frenzy as TB Joshua moves around and prays. People are tremoring vigorously and falling on themselves in numbers, a common sight you can behold in many mega-churches where ‘miracles’ are taking place.
The next scene sends goosebumps down my skin: an old clip from Emmanuel TV featuring a young girl dressed modestly in a suit, Rachel (one of Joshua’s survivors) says, “We are all here as evangelists in training, under our father in the lord, senior prophet TB Joshua. The man of God told us that, satan is the author of killing, stealing and destruction.”
Immediately, I know that this will be the most horrifying thing I will probably ever lay my eyes on.
Episode 1 “The Miracle Maker”:
This episode details TB Joshua’s origin story. He starts with a small congregation that believes him when he says his coming to earth had been prophesied 100 years ago. The interviewer ex-SCOAN members, describe him as being very humble then, like Jesus Christ, doing things like cleaning the church’s toilet.
Agomoh Paul, a high rank ex-SCOAN Member narrated how in the early days, TB Joshua invested more than 90% of what he got into VHS videos. According to him, the clergyman’s law to cameramen was “to record everything.”
At this point, disturbing clips of Joshua performing miracles come on: men and women lining up in front of his church’s altar holding placards of the names of illnesses they are suffering from. A church member’s placard reads: Leg cancer caused by dog bites. I want to laugh at this point, but the desperation from the congregants in need of healing is palpable. The documentary is filled with unsettling “miracle” clips including a woman giving birth, (her baby shot out head first on the concrete floors with a massive crowd cheering) and TB Joshua physically assaulting a woman who is supposedly possessed while she begs for help from the crowd.
By the third episode of the documentary, we learn that SCOAN had an ‘Emergency department’ that made healing miracles look real. Sicknesses were either faked or exaggerated. Sometimes, sick members would be given drugs in private until they became better, and videos would be doctored to deceive viewers that sick members received healing from TB Joshua on the spot. Because of this, many threw out their medications because the pastor asked them to have faith. They all died.
The clergyman had a special interest in White People. For him, the Whites could endorse him and it was good PR for his ministry. He would fly them into Nigeria on his tab, treat them like celebrities and whenever they were to return to their respective countries, he would give them numerous SCOAN VHS tapes to take back with them. Paul [Agomoh] recounted that when he confronted Joshua about such actions being expensive, the clergyman laughed, saying, “You think I am a fool? A time will come, and this church will be worldwide”.
As more foreigners joined SCOAN, Joshua revealed to some ex-members that he needed to make white people his disciples because he was angry that they enslaved his forefathers.
When the Whites came to visit SCOAN, the brainwashing and manipulation began. He would put them in a room where SCOAN miracle tapes would play for unending hours. Days later, the visitors would attend live testimonies. This was the prime time when he and his enablers targeted who to pick as his disciples: young people. These people were literal teenagers, aged 15 to 17, who went into that church because they wanted to be closer to God and obtain salvation. They ended up never leaving until 10 to 14 years later.
The individuals he recruited during these live testimonies, he called ‘disciples’. They were 100 at a time, to stay for 3 months in the Synagogue that is built as a fortress—high concrete walls, barbed wires, armed men surrounding the place, and labyrinth interiors. The disciples were ordered never to leave.
In the female dormitories, disciples were encouraged to be nude at all times, and it was veiled as body positivity. You can just imagine a house run by a man that has a room filled with naked underage girls. Later on, it is revealed to us by Paul that the house had cameras everywhere. Even in the bathrooms!
At this point, I actually need the Paul guy to be arrested and I am not kidding. At his big manly age, he saw underage girls being spied on and thought it was godly? I am actually so upset right now and I am only just halfway through with episode 1.
TB Joshua preferred his disciples to call him ‘Daddy’. He would encourage his congregants to willingly abandon friends and family, and then seize their passports, phones, and so on. Classic cult move: Isolation. I am literally watching this and screaming to these disciples “Girl, get out. You are being prepped for abuse, get out now!!”. Disciples didn’t have access to personal mail, passports, or their cellphones. Yet, even with all these strange moves, TB Joshua still embodied a friendly persona.
However, it was a whole different attitude towards black disciples (I say unto you, truly, truly, if you are black, nothing for you). TB Joshua would beat black disciples until they bled.
The so-called Man of God had different rules. Whenever he entered a room, disciples must stand up. They weren’t allowed to choose their clothes and read books. TB Joshua had underage girls stopping by his office for permission to use the bathroom. Children were running on a maximum of 4 hours of sleep, you can literally see the dark circles under their eyes. At the synagogue, sleep was seen as the greatest enemy to the work of God. The sleep deprivation was apparently a tactic to make the disciples more malleable. One of the survivors of his abuse, said that even when things were off she didn’t have “the cognitive ability to question things because of lack of sleep”. One person slept with his mouth open and he made four boys pee in his mouth. Disciples weren’t allowed to have watches because “they had to go by God’s time” and that’s how he was able to trap victims for so many years. Days bled into each other, that the initial 3 months most planned to stay suddenly became 3 years and then more. The survivors, rewatching footage of their days in SCOAN, described the brainwashing that took place as: “taking a drug”, “nothing made sense”, “it’s like my brain was rewired”, “my mind wasn’t there”, “it was like I was living but my head was somewhere else.”
TB Joshua’s friendly persona towards his disciples fades away and ex-members of the SCOAN describe him as having a massive temper. He would slap his disciples and tell them it’s an honor to get slapped by him because he’s next in line to God. These are the same disciples that run the day-to-day operations of the Church, free of charge.
I am shocked to my bone marrow as the next scene comes on.
It is reminiscent of the visuals I imagine when I hear of the biblical Israelites slaving and building structures for Pharaoh. Please why am I seeing both black and white people carrying cement on their heads on a building site? These people were out there doing hard manual labor, building TB Joshua’s church, for free!
Episode 2 “Unmasking our Father”:
Trigger Warning: Sexual Abuse
In episode 2, there are plenty of footage of TB Joshua exorcising women from the spirit of lust, accusing them of having a flirting spirit and shaming them as immoral. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, this foul man was asking for virgins to sleep with. The scenes where his survivors describe how he raped them are utterly heartbreaking. Jessica, an ex-member of SCOAN, recounts how TB Joshua first molested her, “I was screaming and he told me to better shut up and stop acting like a baby”. “You want people to hear?” He would say to her. Loulita, another victim stated that TB Joshua blamed her. The blame tactic was probably a way of convincing his conscience that it’s the woman’s fault, so that he can continue his sexual deviance without carrying the guilt. Another high-ranking ex-member of SCOAN, Bisola Johnson, said that if she were to count the number of girls that were sexually assaulted during her 14-year stay at SCOAN, it would be in thousands.
When Jessica confided in a fellow disciple on what was going on, she was reported during a discipleship meeting and TB Joshua beat her up in everyone’s presence after denying the allegation. Paul Agomoh tells us that, “TB Joshua likes to humiliate people. One day I asked him why. He laughed and said, I know what I am doing, to put fear in the disciples”.
Whenever TB Joshua impregnated these young girls he was raping, he would tell them “you cannot betray the man of God” and force them to have an abortion at the medical department within the synagogue. Listen, this medical department was specially created for abortions. Do you know how heinous TB Joshua must have been, with all the wealth he had acquired to give the girls he raped and impregnated a concoction to sicken them or insertion of metal pieces in their vaginas as abortion care?. One of such girls who underwent 3 abortions within the synagogue said, “Sometimes you find yourself singing on stage at church and people will think you are crying because the Holy Spirit is there, but in fact you are dead inside.”
TB Joshua has a daughter, Ajoke, from an affair outside his marriage. TB Joshua knew that her existence was the biggest threat to the pious reputation he had built globally so he constantly abused her. She went through a lot. He accused her of having evil spirits and told the disciples to hit her at any chance they got. Ajoke, recalling that particular incident, describes the disciples as “brainwashed and enablers, acting like zombies.” One day, she confronted her father about his sexual indiscretions in the presence of his female disciples, and he incited the disciples to beat her up.
Indoctrination is crazy! Imagine Ajoke going to advocate for TB Joshua’s victims, and he convinces them to join in and beat her. “He was very afraid that someone will speak up and make him answer for all those things he has done”. Ajoke says.
Episode 3 “The Collapse”:
In Episode 3, we see how TB Joshua disguises his monstrosity from the world through huge philanthropic acts. He has two faces: a pious man for the world to see, and an enemy of everything holy for his disciples. TB Joshua is at his peak, courting dignitaries and acquiring a fortune from his ministry—the guest house where visitors of SCOAN lodge, was one of his money-making ventures.
On 12th September 2014, the SCOAN guest house collapsed. On the morning of the collapse, TB Joshua was told that the guest house was unstable by an official from the maintenance department. Yet, he asked the disciples privy to the information to be quiet about it.
When the building fell to rubble, not once did this man leave his office to check what was going on at the collapse site. Instead, he instructed a disciple to film it. On the night of the building’s collapse, after delaying the entry of emergency services and the press, and when he had successfully gotten them to leave earlier than necessary, the real search for human beings buried under the rubble began. The way one of the ex-male disciples is describing the trapped voices fading off, he must be scarred. To hear the life snuffed out of human beings like that and not being able to do anything, waiting until they died so they could be dismembered and disposed. My goodness! Bags and bags of dead bodies were transported to an unknown location at night, to hide the actual death toll from the public eye. On that same night, TB Joshua sent for a disciple to be raped.
The following Sunday, he held a live service and showed viewers a doctored video of a jet hovering around the guest house to bomb it. When in fact, the collapse of the building could be attributed to a foundation too weak for the towering height of the building. He was a real monster.
The clergyman tried to cover up the death toll of the incident by paying out the families of the victims. For families that refused the bribe, TB Joshua threatened them. A South African woman who lost her daughter in the collapse revealed that TB Joshua sent her a message that read, “If you focus on what you have lost, you would lose everything.”
The survivors of SCOAN revealed that when they escaped, they reported the crimes and abuses of TB Joshua, but it didn’t yield anything positive. One reported to the UK police, who mentioned it was beyond their jurisdiction, but said they would inform Interpol. Another sent a letter to SCOAN itemizing the series of abuse but was met with silence. When Bisola and Agomo left, TB Joshua and his disciples made propaganda videos on YouTube. These are the same videos his supporters are using to debunk the BBC reports. The woman who recorded the propaganda video has come out to say she was forced to make it. He also harassed and attempted to kill them.
TB Joshua might be dead, but there are enablers that are still alive, benefitting from and sustaining the abuse under SCOAN’s still thriving system. The Synagogue Church of Nigeria should be thoroughly investigated as to why TB Joshua acted for as long as he did.
If you feel you may have experienced coercive control through an organization or you have personal or even 3rd party information, or maybe you’re simply not sure, there are resources, help & support, anonymous whistleblowing channels and more here: disciplesdocumentary.com