The BBC has revealed how the late megachurch leader TB Joshua, who is accused for perpetrating sexual violations on a mass scale, locked up his own daughter and tormented her for several years prior to leaving her homeless in the city of Lagos, Nigeria.
“My dad had fear, constant fear. He was very afraid that someone would speak up,” says one of the pastor’s daughters, Ajoke – the first whistle-blower to reach out to the BBC about the abuse she witnessed at her father’s church, the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan).
TB Joshua, who died in 2021 at 57 years old, is accused for far and wide maltreatment and torture traversing right around 20 years.
Now aged 27, Ajoke lives in stowing away and has dropped her family name “Joshua” – but the BBC isn’t publishing her new name.
There is not enough information about Ajoke’s birth mother, who was believed to be one of TB Joshua’s congregants. Ajoke says she was raised by Evelyn, Joshua’s widow, from as early as she can remember.
Until the age of seven, Ajoke says she had an exceptionally blissful youth, going on vacation with the Joshua family to places like Dubai.
Yet, on one occasion everything changed. She was suspended from school for a petty crime, and a neighborhood journalist wrote an article alluding to her as the ill-conceived offspring of TB Joshua. She was pulled out of school and taken to the Scoan compound in Lagos.
“I was made to move to the disciples’ room. I didn’t volunteer to be a disciple. I was made to join,” she says.
The disciples were a first class group of committed supporters who served TB Joshua and lived with him inside the labyrinth like construction of the congregation. They came from everywhere the world, many staying at the compound for numerous years.
They lived under a strict commandment of rules: forced to call TB Joshua “Daddy,” not allowed to sleep for more than a few hours at a time, and not allowed to use their own phones or access their personal email.
“The disciples were both brainwashed and enablers. Everybody was just acting based on command – like zombies. Nobody was questioning anything,” she says.
As a little girl, Ajoke would not follow the rules like the other disciples, she refused to stand up when the pastor came into the room and rebelled against the severe sleeping orders.
The maltreatment began before long.
Not long subsequent to showing up, aged seven, she was beaten for wetting the bed and afterward being compelled to stroll around the compound with a sign around her neck saying “I’m a bedwetter.”
“The message about Ajoke was that she had terrible evil spirits that needed to be driven out,” says one former female disciple.
“There was a time in the disciple meetings – he [Joshua] said people could beat her. Anyone in the female dormitory could just hit her and I remember just seeing people slapping her as they walked past,” she says.
From the moment Ajoke moved to the congregation in the Ikotun neighborhood of Lagos, she was dealt with like an outsider.
“She was, like, kind of labelled the black sheep of the family,” says Rae, from the UK, who spent 12 years living in the church as a disciple. Like most of the former disciples interviewed by the BBC, she opted to only use her first name.
Rae remembers a time when Ajoke slept for too long, and Joshua shouted at her to get up.
Another disciple took her to the shower and “whipped her with an electrical cord and then turned the hot water on”, she says.
Recalling the incident, Ajoke says: “I was screaming at the top of my voice, and they just let the water run on my head for a very long time.”
Such abuse was never-ending, she says.
“We’re talking about years and years of abuse. Consistent abuse. My existence as a child from another mother undermined everything he [TB Joshua] claimed to stand for.”
The abuse escalated to a different scale when she was aged 17 and confronted her dad about “accounts, first hand, of people who had experienced sexual abuse”.
“I saw female disciples go up to his room. They were going away for hours. I was hearing things: ‘Oh this happened to me. He tried sleeping with me.’ Too many people were saying the same thing,” she says.
The BBC spoke to more than 25 former disciples – from the UK, Nigeria, US, South Africa, Ghana, Namibia and Germany – who gave powerful corroborating testimony of experiencing or witnessing sexual abuse.
“I couldn’t take it any more. I walked directly into his office on that very day. I shouted at the top of my voice: ‘Why are you doing this? Why are you hurting all these women?’
“I had lost every iota of fear for this man. He tried to stare me down, but I was looking in his eyes,” she says.
Emmanuel, who was part of the church for 21 years and spent more than a decade living in the compound as a disciple, remembers that day clearly.
“He [TB Joshua] was the first person that started hitting her… then other people joined,” he says.
“He was saying: ‘Can you imagine what she’s saying about me?’ Even as much as they were hitting her, beating her, she was still saying the same thing.”
Temitope Balogun Joshua, popularly known as T. B. Joshua, was a Nigerian charismatic pastor, televangelist, and philanthropist.
He was the leader and founder of SCOAN, one of the continent’s leading megachurches that runs the Emmanuel TV television station from Lagos. Born on June 12, 1963 in Ondo, Nigeria, Joshua died on June 5, 2021, at his base in Lagos, Nigeria.