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Fire on the mountain: MFM trending videos and a sleeping nation

The Tragedy and Crisis of Power Religion in Nigeria

by Church Times

By Moses Oludele Idowu

More than 300,000 people have so far watched the trending video on Yoruba Gidi TV, of one pastor Femi Jimoh, who spent 9 years in prison before he was finally acquitted and discharged. Posted just 13 days ago it has garnered 3500 likes and more than 2500 comments on the Yoruba edition of the programme alone.
The story of Pastor Jimoh as told by himself is pathetic, it is soul-searing and heart-wrenching. If you can hear his story and not cry then you probably have a heart of stone; if you can listen to him and you are not moved then you lack the milk of human kindness. You are something else.
Yet for all these, no single Mainstream Media has featured his story except Saharareporters and no notable minister or organ of Nigerian Christianity like CAN and PFN has said anything about it.

Why it matters

Why does this matter? Because the story and the message of Christianity are under attack and – with the story of this man and his two companions corroborated by his mother, – the Church in Nigeria is under test. One thing with God’s test is you won’t know when He is testing you until after.
Whether the leaders of churches know this or not is immaterial. God’s warning comes through various channels and media. History confirms this. The Church in Russia was warned for years about being part of and being complicit in the atrocities of the Czarist Era. But she failed to heed these warnings. One of these warnings came from an unusual channel, the “greatest of all time”- writer and prophet, Leo Tolstoy. Then one day and without warning judgment came.
The hammer of all the world, the followers of Karl Marx and V.I. Lenin with their hammer and sickle overwhelmed Russia and took over the Church. The Russian Church would labour with tears and suffering for another 70 years (1917-1989) before she regained her freedom. Is the Nigerian Church going the same way?

Video is traumatising

People have been severely traumatized by these videos. Many confessed weeping and unable to sleep and one man confessed it had been difficult for him to enter any church since watching the videos.
People are now returning to Isese Traditional religion and counselling others to do the same, – to the same gods of stone and iron that could not save their forefathers from Anarchy and Slavery.
Many have resolved never to again step into any church but to now worship God in the security and cover of their dwelling with their families.
A crusade is now going on among Nigerians on Social Media telling people to stay in their houses. “Church is a scam” and “pastors are scams”. The three most hated and ridiculed titles on Social Media among Nigerians now are – pastors, politicians, and police, the three P’s. This is what I have been warning against because “a brother offended is harder to be won.”
It is true that judgement begins in God’s House but judgement comes through various ways and means. That is why this matters. Jimoh’s story of maltreatment and suffering for 9 years for nothing is now a common tale in Nigeria and many Nigerian churches. Except that this was far out in its drama, outrageous dimension, prodigious barbarity, and atrocious and confounding severity.

Who is Femi Jimoh?

Femi Jimoh was a Muslim converted during the great Obadare revival in Ibadan, according to his testimony. He was a pastor of MFM and found himself in Ogbomosho as pastor.
It was there he saw one Gbadamosi in the house of a herbalist who also happens to be the father of a carpenter working for him. And this Gbadamosi is according to him the same person he knew as Chief Security Officer of Dr. Daniel Olukoya, the General Overseer of MFM.
The story takes on a different turn from that day for the worse beginning with his frame-up, his incarceration, trial, and attempts to extra-judicially murder him while awaiting trial.
Amid these ordeals, his wife left, and his father died in the process only for him to be vindicated at last. Discharged and acquitted he was set free. There is still a bullet locked in the right side of his foot that hasn’t been removed.
His heart condition is still unhealthy and beating improperly as a result of severe and constant beatings with the butt of the gun while awaiting trial in police custody.

Daniel Olukoya angle

There is one man and one organization Jimoh is holding responsible for all his ordeals: the MFM and its general overseer, Daniel Olukoya.
Strangely, but consistently his statements have been confirmed by his other companions, Caleb Oloruntele, an usher, Henry Ayenuro who was a barber. Each of them too has one tale of woes or the other.
Caleb lost his daughter while in prison and his wife left him; Henry is partially impaired in his eyes as a result of tear gas on his eyes while in custody. All these happened not in Stalinist Siberia or Alexander Zolzenithsyn’s Gulag Archipelago but in 21st-century Nigeria – a land that professes to have what pretends to be government and what is supposed to be leadership.
Of the three only the last was not a member of MFM.
In addition, they brandish two court judgments in their favour – the judgment of acquittal by Justice A. O.  Williams of Igbosere High Court and that of Industrial Court ordering their former employers to pay them their outstanding salaries and allowance – which till now MFM hasn’t obeyed.

Matters arising

Certain issues arising out of these videos and from this story I found personally disturbing. And I know why many are traumatized by these videos. It was David Thoreau who said that there is “no odour as foul as goodness tainted.”
When people repose confidence in a person and an organization and now find something wholly unexpected and even incongruous with sanity and honesty they become traumatized.
To be sure I have not been able to make sense of these videos, the atrocities involved and the sheer unexplainable cruelty, and extreme barbarity visited on these men except by situating it within the locus of power religion.
People do not do evil merely for the sake of it; there must be an impelling force. There must be a motive. So what is the motive? These lead to several questions:
 * Is it true that Pastor Femi Jimoh found CSO Gbadamosi in a herbalist’s house at Ogbomosho? And is it true that the son of this herbalist also testified corroborating Jimoh’s testimony in court and which the brilliant and erudite judge found credible?
*Is it true that attempts were made on his life to silence him while in police custody? How do we explain the bullet locked in his leg which he did not have before going into police custody?
*Is it also true as the three of them claimed that they brought poisoned food from MFM for them to eat while in prison and that the inmates who ate them died? So who wants these men dead? What do they know that someone considered them too dangerous to be alive?

Too true to be discarded

These are serious allegations and damaging exposures. Even if we make allowance for exaggerations, bitterness due to protracted suffering, and human frailties for forgetfulness there is still much substance left in their story to be worried about. Their stories agree, their testimony is consistent and also corroborated by a 77-year-old woman, the mother of Femi Jimoh who also happens to be a member of MFM.
The judge found them credible enough to discharge them as guiltless. Sincerely, I for one cannot believe these are concocted lies as the MFM lawyer, one Davidson claimed in his shoddy, incoherent stuttering rebuttal on YouTube shortly after the story broke.
If these men had died in prison either through food poisoning or police beating the news would have spread that the god of MFM killed them for plotting against the church. It would be termed as divine judgement when in all honesty it would have been extra-judicial murder.
 I want to believe that the Trio – Jimoh, Caleb, and Henry – were exaggerating when they claimed that MFM gave money to police to kill them in custody and that their refusal to answer their names that night as previously warned by another senior police officer was their saving grace.
The police themselves confessed this to them. If true then that is not Christianity, that is witchcraft – attempting to deprive a man of his life without the due process of law and order. Has our police too reached that stage? Then it has gone beyond the vale of redemption. I shall come for the police on another day. Today it is the Church.

Sympathy for MFM

I have critiqued the Church in Nigeria in particular and modern Christianity in general more than anyone in this generation. I am talking of real critiques dealing with orthodoxy and orthopraxy and not just complaints or hurling insults, abuses, character assassination, etc. I have written severally about CAC, C&S,  RCCG, etc.
I have however never publicly written or commented about MFM or its general overseer for certain reasons. I have always kept some sympathy and consideration for this ministry and even respect for its overseer, Daniel Olukoya whom I personally like. When I published my first book on Apostle Babalola in 2001 I invited him to launch it and he gave a generous donation and encouragement. That means something to me personally.
In the last twenty years, we have transacted business by supplying books to many church bookshops. Some of these have been unfaithful in remitting our money as at and when due like RCCG so I have had to write off the money and close the chapter with them.
But MFM is different and one among very few where not a single kobo has been lost. They have been faithful in rendering accounts and paying promptly. At least I am a witness to this. This level of business integrity that I see earned them some respect and even admiration in my heart.
You now understand why I have a soft spot for them and why I have refused to write anything untoward about the ministry, at least I am human too. Sure I have heard some uncomplimentary things but I have never really believed them. Even listening to the trending videos I still wasn’t moved to write against MFM. I still wanted to hear the other side.
However, the turning point and the most annoying thing to me was the incompetent, shoddily – packaged stuttering rebuttal by Davidson said to be the lawyer to MFM and General Overseer, Dr. Olukoya.
That irritating video and rebuttal was what compelled me to now write about MFM. His attempt at obfuscation and turning logic on its head angered me so much that I penned some lines ridiculing his submission which I forwarded to Dr. Olukoya.

Daniel Olukoya’s defense

That night Dr.Olukoya called me and gave me his side and MFM’s side of the saga. Again that is another reason I have respect and why I am reluctant to write about them and even criticize MFM. A man who was coming from a programme and saw my comment on his phone and immediately called me to give me his side of the story shows some respect and honour for me; and shouldn’t I return honour too to such? ” They that honour me I will honour, they that despise me I will lightly esteem.”
That is one quality I have found in Dr. Olukoya. I realize however that I may not know him more than those who work with him and his pastors.
 It is not proper to make private phone conversations public but there is one aspect that I can make public at least. I ask Dr Olukoya why he takes people to court rather than leave everything for God and that the damage that this is causing the ministry of MFM is avoidable. I reminded him that Apostle Joseph Ayo Babalola, our mutual hero and benefactor never took anyone to court in his lifetime even when he had genuine reasons to do so.
He agreed with me that Babalola never took anyone to court but reminded me that Babalola only preached; whereas Daniel Olukoya was not only a minister but also a professor, Chancellor of a university, an academic known in academic circles of the world. If lies were told against him and he did not refute them legally then it could work or count against him in academic circles. That is true.
He also told me of lies that bloggers have told against him including the very damaging and irresponsible lie that he was not the biological father of his son which a British court gave him judgement against.
How about that? Sometimes our bloggers too can be extremely overzealous and ignorant. I mean how can you claim a man is not the real father of his son without medical examination or proof?
 I digress.
These videos will continue to spread just as bad news spreads the most. And the damage will be everlasting to the Nigerian Church. A few days ago only 70,000 had seen it; when I woke up to work on this essay by 12:19 on Saturday, June 8  it had shot up to 297,000.
A previously unknown blogger and platform is becoming a celebrity among the masses. Because the Mainstream Media failed in their duty. The Church must rise, step into this, and stop this fire before it becomes a mammoth and uncontrollable conflagration. It is not even a matter of who is telling the truth or which side is true or false; it is the damage this will do to the cause of true religion in the Land.
What then is to be done? Truth will always prevail at the end. It may take time but it will. Truth may be wounded, battered, bruised, and limping but in the end, it will still survive an attack or a battle with a lie. We only need to wait and in the day of Social Media, it will not be a long wait.

Appeal to MFM

In the meantime, I want to appeal to MFM and the leadership of MFM to at least obey the Court judgement and pay the arrears of Pastor Jimoh as ordered by the Industrial Court. Even if the MFM’s allegations against him are indeed true it still doesn’t matter. He has gotten judgment against MFM and as a responsible and law-abiding organization it won’t speak well before the tribunal of posterity that MFM, as a Christian ministry, flouted the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction.
The church does not need to see him, his account has been posted on his video; it can pay the money and post the receipt on her website if at all, and close this chapter once and for all. In human affairs, mistakes do occur. When they do occur as humans we make remediation and put structures in place to avert a recurrence.
This is the first in a series of Essays on Power Religion. Expect others in the coming days.
N.B. While I was working on this essay I received emails in my box from MFM that I believed to be the official response to the videos in question. I will carefully study these and respond as required in the coming essays. They cannot go for this.
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© Moses Oludele Idowu
          June 9, 2024
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1 comment

Alex Ogundadegbe June 10, 2024 - 5:20 am

Dr. Odukoya needs to answer questions. If indeed this Pastor was detained for those number of years at the behest of MFM, then he had better be compensated and the ministry should be called to order.


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