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EFCC desperate to nail me, says Saraki

Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said he is innocent of the allegations of fraud levelled against him by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

He also said he is not engaged in any media war with the anti-graft agency.

The EFCC had in May marked some properties saying it believed Mr Saraki purchased them from the Presidential Implementation Committee for the Sale of Government Properties through shell companies.

In a recent allegation, the EFCC also accused Mr Saraki of taking N12 billion from the treasury of the Kwara State Government while he was governor of the state between 2003 and 2011.

The commission said the money was withdrawn in cash.

The money, EFCC said, was allegedly used by Mr Saraki to offset the N1.36 billion bank loan he used in purchasing homes at 15, 15A, 17, 17A and four flats on Macdonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, hence, its decision to seize the properties.

The agency, in a statement on Sunday, said no amount of “media campaign” against its acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, will stop the prosecution of the former All Progressives Congress chieftain.

The spokesman of the commission, Tony Orilade, said Mr Saraki “seems to have chosen outside the shores of Nigeria as the launch pad of his campaign of calumny against the EFCC and its leadership.”

“We wish to state without any contradiction that the ongoing investigation against the former Senate president and other Politically-exposed Persons (PeP) are on course, while Saraki and his co-travellers will surely have their day in court shortly,” he said.

Mr Saraki addressed some of the allegations on Monday.

In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, the politician said he has not engaged in any media war ”but has rather been the one at the receiving end of the media onslaught sponsored from the office of the EFCC”.

He said that various documents and court processes from the agency had been given to a newspaper for publication.

“While the EFCC distributed copies of its letter to the Chief Judge of the Federal High Court immediately it was submitted, we are still surprised how Dr Saraki’s response written early May found its way into a newspaper last Sunday.

“It should be known that if we were interested in leaking the letter, we would not wait for seven weeks to do that. Dr Saraki believes he is on firm ground on the points of law and has nothing to be afraid of. He is innocent of the charges.

“We need to reiterate that Dr Saraki is not interested in obstructing any investigation by the EFCC or any security agency. While the EFCC claims that it is investigating the Office of the Senate President between 2015 and 2019, we make bold to say that it is just on a wild goose chase.

“That Office has nothing to do with contract awards and handling of the finances of the National Assembly. These are functions of the bureaucracy of the National Assembly, otherwise known as the National Assembly Management,” part of the statement read.

Mr Olaniyonu said all the issues the EFCC are presently raising were ”the same issues that are contained in four of the charges filed before the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT) and taken before the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court”.

He said since the issues have been determined by the courts up to the Supreme Court, ”the EFCC is just on a persecution and smear campaigns with its current investigations”.

“At the time the CCT charges were filed, it was generally believed some of the charges should not have been lumped up with the asset declaration issues.

“However, in their desperation to nail Dr Saraki, some of the charges that contained insinuations that Kwara State funds were paid into accounts owned by him and companies in which he has interests were filed. And twice, the charges went before the highest court in the land, and he was discharged and acquitted,” he said.

He added that the current investigation constitutes an infringement on Mr Saraki’s fundamental human rights.

He said in the exercise of his belief in the judiciary; he filed a case seeking the court’s intervention for the protection and enforcement of the rights.

Nigerian priest sues Catholic Church for accusing him of impregnating woman

A Nigerian Catholic priest has sued his church for accusing him of impregnating a woman, according to a report by Premium Times.

The priest, Fr. Charles Oyebade, filed the case since in 2018 at Ekpoma High court, Edo State, South-South Nigeria, after the church suspended him indefinitely over an alleged sexual affair with a woman named Cynthia Nnaji.

The Catholic Church tried to stop the court from hearing the case, saying the priest did not exhaust the internal mechanisms of resolving disputes within the church before heading to the court.

But the judge, J. O. Okeaya-Inneh, on April 16 this year, ruled that the case should go on.

Catholic priests voluntarily submit themselves to an oath of celibacy which forbids them from sex.

The embattled priest,  Oyebade, belongs to the Order of Discalced Carmelite, a sect which has chosen a secluded life, devoted to prayers, within the Catholic Church. He was ordained priest in November 2014.

The priest has denied being responsible for Ms Nnaji’s pregnancy nor ever having sex with her.

He is in court to challenge his suspension by the Order of Discalced Carmelite.

Apart from Ms Nnaji, the other defendants in the case are the Order of Discalced Carmelite, and a priest, Canice-Mary Azuoma, who is a regional vicar of the Order in Nigeria.

Ms Nnaji in 2017 reported to the Catholic Church that she was pregnant for the reverend father, according to a court paper.

But the priest told the court, through his lawyer, that the church hastily suspended him without giving him a fair hearing, and without conducting a pregnancy and paternity test as demanded by him.

The priest told the court that the vicar, Mr Azuoma, gave Ms Nnaji N450,000 immediately she came up with the allegation against him (Mr Oyebade), therefore making the case appear as a “set-up.”

He further told the court that Ms Nnaji sent text messages to him, confessing that she lied that she was pregnant.

Justice Okeaya-Inneh, while dismissing the preliminary objection by the Order of Discalced Carmelite, said the Nigerian constitution which guarantees Mr Oyebade rights to seek redress hold sway when it clashes with the constitution and norms of the Order and the Codes of Canon law.

The paper on Monday, said it contacted the Order of Discalced Carmelite in Nigeria for their comment on the matter.

One Israel Ani, who picked the call, introduced himself as a secretary to the vicar, Mr Azuoma, but declined comment on the matter.

He also refused to give the vicar’s contact phone number as requested by the reporter.

After backlash, Kardashian drops ‘Kimono’ name from underwear line

“Kimono” is now a no, no, Kim Kardashian West said Monday.

The pop culture icon announced that she will change the name of her new “Kimono” line of underwear, after being accused of cultural appropriation.

Kardashian, who is married to rapper Kanye West, sparked a social media storm last week when she unveiled the new line, with some in Japan accusing her of disrespecting the traditional outfit.

Following the backlash, which included the trending Twitter hashtag #KimOhNo, Kardashian revealed on Twitter and to her 142 million followers on Instagram that she would change the name.

“When I announced the name of my shapewear line, I did so with the best intentions in mind,” Kardashian said.

“My brands and products are built with inclusivity and diversity at their core and after careful thought and consideration, I will be launching my Solutionwear brand under a new name,” she said.

Once a standard of the Japanese wardrobe, the kimono is now often reserved for special occasions, such as weddings and coming-of-age ceremonies, and is mostly worn by women.

The mayor of Japan’s ancient capital Kyoto was among those who asked the reality television star to consider renaming her shapewear line.

“Kimono is a traditional ethnic dress fostered in our rich nature and history,” Kyoto Mayor Daisaku Kadokawa wrote in a letter to Kardashian.

“(I) ask you to reconsider your decision of using the name Kimono in your trademark,” Kadokawa said.

Explaining her decision to change the name, Kardashian said “being an entrepreneur and my own boss has been one of the most rewarding challenges I’ve been blessed with in my life.

“What’s made it possible for me after all of these years has been the direct line of communication with my fans and the public,” she said. “I am always listening, learning and growing — I so appreciate the passion and varied perspectives that people bring to me.”

(AFP)

AFCON 2019: Buhari shocked over Super Eagles unpaid allowances, protest —Lalong

President Muhammadu Buhari was said to have been shocked by reports that allowances were owed the Super Eagles for their first two matches against Burundi and Guinea at the ongoing African Cup of Nations hosted by Egypt.

Plateau State Governor, Mr Simon Lalong, disclosed this on Monday in Abuja after he met with Buhari at the Presidential Villa.

Lalong stated that the President was alarmed that the players were owed their entitlements in spite of the fact that approvals were made for the payment of the allowances.

The players had protested at their Helnan Palestine Hotel in Egypt, though the Nigerian Football Federation had said Buhari approved the payment.

Lalong was on the government delegation that visited Egypt to watch the Super Eagles games against Burundi and Guinea.

READ ALSO: Court orders forfeiture of Patience Jonathan’s N9.2bn, $8.4m

However, the team played Madagascar on Sunday and lost by 2-0.

Madagascar team is one of the minnows in the competition, qualifying for the finals for the first time.

Speaking with reporters, the governor stated, “I came to see the President on behalf of my state and on behalf of the 19 northern states as the Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum.

“I came in to have a discussion with Mr President. Of course, many of you know that I just came back from Egypt where we went to cheer our Super Eagles. I also brought him the concerns of our players over there and he promised to handle the matter immediately.

“This is because football is a unifying factor in Nigeria and we should not joke with it. If they bring back the cup, it will cement our relationship and that is one of it.”

APC confirms Doguwa as Reps Leader
On Buhari’s reaction to the players’ protest over unpaid allowances, Lalong said, “Well, many of the concerns raised were that their allowances were not paid and Mr President expressed surprise because he signed these allowances and wondered why they were not paid to them.

“I was a footballer. It is not like before when you played football out of patriotism, now it is combined with the economic aspect.

“When you bring people, definitely from the ministry, you must ensure that their allowances are paid. We went there for the joy of it and the day we were there they won their match but when we left yesterday, I understand they lost to Madagascar.

“Defeating Guinea and allowing Madagascar to defeat us is a surprise, but I think with good motivation, these boys would bring back the cup.”

We are ready for Ruga, says Bauchi governor

Bala Mohammed, governor of Bauchi, says his state is ready for the Ruga settlement initiative of the federal government.

He disclosed this while speaking with state house correspondents in Abuja on Monday.

The federal government had introduced the initiative as part of measures to resolve the farmers-herders crisis but it has been rejected in different parts of the country.

On Sunday, Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi, said governors in the south-south and south-east would not cede any land for the settlement in their respective states.

But asked if Bauchi would adopt Ruga settlement, Mohammed said: “Yes. Because the population of Fulani in Bauchi is 60 or 70 percent. Therefore, we must leverage on all these. We have illiteracy, insurgency and so many things that are bombarding us in terms of social challenges and security challenges.”

With his pronouncement, Bauchi has joined other states that have keyed into the project.

The Ruga pilot states are Sokoto, Adamawa, Nasarawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Taraba, Katsina, Plateau, Kebbi, Zamfara and Niger.

On Sunday, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesman, said the settlement will be in an organised place with provision of necessary and adequate basic amenities such as schools, hospitals, road networks, vet clinics, markets and manufacturing entities.

He also added that the settlement is not for Fulani alone but cattle rearers across the country.

Shehu said the essence of the scheme is to curb open grazing of animals “that continue to pose security threats to farmers and herders”.

Let’s pray for the church, says Sam Adeyemi on rape allegation against Fatoyinbo

Sam Adeyemi, senior pastor of Daystar Christian Centre, has demanded prayers for the church and families of the accused and accuser in the allegation levelled against Biodun Fatoyinbo.

On Friday, Busola Dakolo, celebrity photographer and wife of Timi Dakolo had alleged that she was raped in her teenage year by Fatoyinbo, founder of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), an allegation the pastor denied.

In an Instagram post on Monday, Adeyemi said there should be a legal process to establish the truth on the rape allegation against Fatoyinbo.

“My attention has been drawn to the allegations of rape made against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo by Mrs Busola Dakolo. These are, no doubt, serious allegations. Rape is a crime and I say a firm NO to rape,” he said.

“As Christians, it is only appropriate for us to seek for truth, justice, healing, and restoration for all involved. The Bible instructs us to do this with humility (Galatians 6:1).

“While these are still allegations, I emphatise with Mrs Dakolo and everyone that has been affected, and I pray God’s peace for them at this time.

“While the allegations have been refuted, I hope there will be a process, legal or counseling, to establish the truth in these circumstances.

“Meanwhile, let us pray for peace and strength for everyone hurting in this process, for the families of the accusers and the accused, and the Church.”

 

View this post on Instagram

 

My attention has been drawn to the allegations of rape made against Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo by Mrs Busola Dakolo. These are, no doubt, serious allegations. Rape is a crime and I say a firm NO to rape. As Christians, it is only appropriate for us to seek for truth, justice, healing, and restoration for all involved. The Bible instructs us to do this with humility (Galatians 6:1). While these are still allegations, I emphatise with Mrs Dakolo and everyone that has been affected, and I pray God’s peace for them at this time. While the allegations have been refuted, I hope there will be a process, legal or counseling, to establish the truth in these circumstances. Meanwhile, let us pray for peace and strength for everyone hurting in this process, for the families of the accusers and the accused, and the Church. #truth #justice #healing #restoration

A post shared by Sam Adeyemi (@thesamadeyemi) on Jul 1, 2019 at 6:01am PDT

PHOTOS: Atiku cooling off in Dubai

 

Atiku Abubakar, presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is currently in Dubai with some of his associates.

Timi Frank, a former deputy spokesman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), is among those with Atiku.

Reno Omokri, a former aide of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, tweeted pictures of Atiku’s visit to the oil-rich city.

The last time Atiku was seen publicly in Dubai was in the buildup to the 2019 elections. Below are pictures of his recent visit.:

We have over 400 witnesses against Buhari, PDP tells tribunal

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) says it has over 400 witnesses willing to testify at the presidential election petition tribunal.

Levi Uzeugwu, PDP’s lead counsel, said this during proceedings at the tribunal in Abuja on Monday.

Uzeugwu was responding to a question from Mohammed Garba, chairman of the tribunal.

Garba had asked the counsel the number of witnesses he had to present in a bid to determine the time that would be allotted to parties to cross examine the witnesses.

“We have over 400 witnesses [willing] to testify. If we are able to present up to 300 we will review our case,” the PDP counsel said in response to Garba.

He then prayed the tribunal to stand down for 30 minutes to enable them decide on how many witnesses they would eventually present.

His prayer was granted.

Earlier, the court reserved ruling on a pre-hearing on an application by the All Progressives Congress (APC) which challenged the validity of PDP’s petition.

PDP argued that the application – which is similar to another one that the APC had filed – should have been struck out instead of the allowing the ruling party withdraw it.

Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate, is challenging the declaration of President Muhammadu Buhari by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as winner of the last general election.

Abubakar, in his petition claimed that he polled 18,356,732 votes while Buhari secured 16,741,430, citing INEC’s server.

However, the electoral commission said Buhari polled 15,191,847 votes to defeat the former vice-president who secured 11, 262,978.

Pregnant officer shot dead as gunmen raid Bayelsa police station

Suspected gunmen have reportedly invaded a police station in Bayelsa, killing four officers, including a pregnant policewoman.

According The Punch, suspected hoodlums invaded the station in Agudama community of Yenagoa local government area in the early hours of Monday, opening fire on the officers.

Also said to have been killed was the divisional police officer (DPO) and two other policemen who were on duty during the attack.

Sources in the community were quoted as saying the attackers also made away with the rifles and ammunition during the operation that began at about 2am.

“At dawn, we heard one policeman escape, while another, who was shot on the leg survived the attack”, a resident was quoted as saying.

No civilian was said to have been attacked during the incident, while the officers’ bodies have been taken to the Federal Medical Center, Yenagoa, the state capital.

Our correspondent  could not immediately reach Asimin Butswat, the state police command spokesman as he did not pick his calls while a text message sent is yet to be replied.

The attack comes about a week after two police officers in the state lost their lives in an encounter with gunmen.

Ruga: Outsiders won’t take our land, says Fayemi

Kayode Fayemi, governor of Ekiti state, says outsiders will not take over lands in Ekiti as long as he is in charge of the state.

Speaking during a condolence visit to Orin-Ekiti where Emmanuel Ilori, a 65-year-old hunter, was shot dead during the weekend, the governor vowed to tackle the incessant killings in the state.

He said efforts were in place to arrest Ilori’s killers, adding that additional security operatives would be deployed in Ekiti.

Fayemi asked non-indigenes wishing to engage in businesses in the state to respect the culture of the people and pursue their interest in line with the laws of the land.

He spoke at a time when there is controversy over Ruga, the federal government’s plan of settlements for herders across the nation.

It is unclear if the governor was speaking against initiative Ruga as he did not use the term during his speech.

“Nobody is coming to take our land in Ekiti; the governor of Ekiti state has power over the land of Ekiti and it is the person that the governor gives land in Ekiti that can use the land of Ekiti,” he said.

“If there are negative comments being peddled around that some people are coming to take over Ekiti land, it’s mere hearsay. It cannot happen in Ekiti except I am no longer the governor of Ekiti state and there is nobody that can be governor in Ekiti that will cede Ekiti land to outsiders because our land is not even enough for us.

“Adequate security of our people is what concerns me most in Ekiti and Nigeria and I want our people to ignore the lies and falsehood some individuals are spreading around. There is nobody that will be governor in Ekiti that will allow outsiders to take over our communities from the people here or say that people coming from elsewhere should come and take over Ekiti land.”

He condemned those politicising Ilori’s death, saying politics should not be played at the expense of lives.

“Those saying this are only playing politics with the matter. This is not politics, security is an issue that concerns all of us,” he said.

“Some individuals have been spreading baseless rumours to cause disaffection because they are no longer in power and it is their wish that Ekiti should be consumed by anarchy.

“I want to assure you that our government has not stopped work on security. No single individual or group can provide security; the local hunters know their terrains very well than our security agents and it will serve the people well if they work together.”

BREAKING: Court orders forfeiture of Patience Jonathan’s N9.2bn, $8.4m

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday ordered the permanent forfeiture of the sums of N9.2bn and $8.4m recovered from wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience.

Justice Mojisola Olatoregun ordered that the funds should be forfeited to the Federal Government.

The judgment followed an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, which said the funds were proceeds of crime.

Though Mrs. Jonathan , through her lawyers, Chief Ifedayo Adedipe (SAN) and Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), opposed the application and insisted that the funds were legitimately her own, the court held that the EFCC proved its claim beyond reasonable doubt.

Court orders arrest of Amajo Pinnick over alleged N4bn embezzlement

A Federal High Court in Abuja has issued a bench warrant for the arrest of the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick and four other officials of the organisation accused of misappropriating funds belonging to the football body.

Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu gave the order on Monday after the case involving the NFF officials was called and they were absent in court.

Also, the be affected by the arrest order are NFF Secretary, Sunusi Mohammed; the 1st Vice-President, Seyi Akinwumi; the 2nd Vice-President, Shehu Dikko and an Executive member, Yusuff Fresh.

The Federal Government had earlier this year filed a 17-count charge, marked FHC/ABJ/CR/93/2019, before the court, in which its accused the NFF officials of alleged misappropriation of $8,400,000 belonging to the football body.

The money was said to have been paid by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to the NFF as appearance fees in the group state of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

The defendants are also accused of “moving dishonestly and intentionally the sum of about N4bn” belonging to the NFF without the consent of the NFF.

Justice Ojukwu gave the order for the arrest of the defendants upon an oral application by the prosecution lawyer, Celcius Ukpong when the case was called and the defendants were absent.

Diezani Bribe: INEC deputy director bags six years, another gets 7-yr jail term

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC Kano zonal office on Friday, June 28, 2019 secured the conviction of a Deputy Director of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, Auwal Jibrin and one Garba Ismaila, before Justice Yusuf Birnin-Kudu of the Jigawa State High Court sitting in Gumel, on a six-count charge bordering on unlawful enrichment and gratification.

The journey to prison for them started after the Commission received intelligence report that they benefited from the $115,010,000 largesse of a former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Alison-Madueke, in the build-up to the 2015 presidential election.

Investigations showed that they benefitted the sum of N45,000,000 (Forty Five Million Naira) out of the N250,000,000 disbursed in Jigawa State to influence the outcome of the election.

Upon arraignment, they pleaded “not guilty” to the charges thereby setting the stage for full trial.

During the course of trial, the prosecution presented five witnesses and tendered 20 exhibits to prove the case against them.

One of the charges reads: “That you, Auwal Jibrin, while being a public Servant (Deputy Director with Independent National Electoral Commission, Dutse) sometime in 2015, at Dutse within the Judicial Division of this Honourable court dishonestly received the sum of ₦45,000,000 (Forty Five Million Naira) from Garba Ismail, which you were not authorized to receive and you thereby committed an offence punishable under section 122 of the Penal Code.”

Delivering judgement, Justice Birnin-Kudu held that: “The prosecution proved beyond reasonable doubt, all the elements and facts of the case as contained in the charge and the testimonies of prosecution witnesses and exhibits tendered.”

The court added that the defence team failed to counter the evidence presented by the prosecution through its witnesses.

Thus, the court found the first defendant guilty as charged on count two, while the second defendant was found guilty on counts one and three.

The court, however, discharged them on counts four, five and six.

Consequently, counsel for the EFCC, Mohammed Gambo, urged the court to sentence them accordingly.

Counsel representing the second defendant, Jonathan Methezidie, who also held the brief for counsel representing the first defendant pleaded with the court to temper justice with mercy in sentencing the defendants.

After listening to the plea of the defence for mercy, the trial judge sentenced the first defendant to seven years imprisonment without an option of fine on count one, while the second defendant who was the INEC Deputy Director was sentenced to six years each on counts one and three.

The court further ordered the final forfeiture of the recovered monies and properties attached to the investigation with the exception of a three-bedroom flat attached at No. 1 Hadeja Road, Birnin kudu, Jigawa State.

Umahi: We won’t allow ‘Ruga’ in any part of south-east

Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi state, says there is no plan to establish Ruga settlement in any part of the south-east and south-south zones.

He disclosed this in a statement by Emma Uzor, his chief press secretary.

Umahi, chairman of the South-East Governors Forum, said the region did propose a deal with the members of the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association (MACBAN) as panacea to achieving lasting peace between farmers and herdsmen.

He, however, denied any plans by governors of the zones to cede any part of their land for Ruga settlement.

“There is no plan for any Ruga settlement in any part of south-east and south-south zones; but we made a proposed deal with MACBAN that can allow the zone to become very good business with sale of grasses to the herdsmen in exchange for meat,” he said.

“There will be no part of the south-east that will be given out for the purpose of establishment of Ruga, the zone is purely agrarian with limited landmass for farming and therefore can not accommodate Ruga establishment.

“We actually proposed a deal with MACBAN to take their cattle to the northern parts where grazing reserves were established long time ago and rely completely on the grasses grown in the south for feeding of their cattle.”

Umahi, who was the chairman of technical committee on farmers and herdsmen clash carved from the national economic council headed by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, said that the committee had recommended the revamping of existing grazing reserve in Nigeria.

He said revamping of the already existing grazing reserves in various parts of the north as recommended by the committee was to enable farmers have unhindered access to their farmlands while herdsmen rely solely on proceeds from the farmers.

“Part of committee’s recommendations to the federal government was the revamping of grazing reserves in the North where all the cattle rearers in the south will take their cattle to these places and rely on the grasses that are grown in the south,” he said.

“The way it works is that the herdsmen will bring down their cows to the south-east and sell to us as meat while they will load the grasses which are grown here in the same vehicles with which they transported their cows to feed their cattle in those grazing reserve.

“With this proposed deal, herdsmen are expected to embrace anti open grazing by returning to the ranches in the north and do their business on the trade by barter basis of selling cows to the South and buying grass to feed their cows in the north.”

Umahi called for tolerance among youth of various ethnic nationalities to solve the problem of hate speech.

JUST IN: COZA pastor, Biodun Fatoyinbo steps down

Biodun Fatoyinbo, the senior pastor of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly (COZA), says he has decided to step aside from the pulpit of the church.

Fatoyinbo announced this in a statement released on Monday where he said the move was the advice of his mentors.

The statement read, “the past few days have been very sobering for me. I have taken time to pray and seek spiritual counsel from Christian leaders around the world who feel very concerned about the ongoing reports in the media.

“I have solicited their advice on actions I should take that are honouring to our Lord Jesus Christ and the work he has called me to do.

“Drawing from their counsel and that of the leadership of the Commonwealth of Zion Assembly and owing to my love for God and the sacred nature of my calling, I have decided to take a leave of absence from the pulpit of the church.

“This step enables me to submit to the concerns of my spiritual methods as they consider all the issues that have been raised against me. My confidence in the Lord remains unwavering.

“Though I do not understand what is happening, I trust the Lord to lead and guide me one step at a time.

“Kindly pray for me and the congregation of COZA as we seek the face of God during these turbulent times,” Fatoyinbo wrote.

Consistent calls had been made for Fatoyinbo to resign following the allegations by celebrity photographer Busola Dakolo that he raped her as a teenager.

The calls trended online with the tags #PastorStepDown and #NotMyChurch and culminated into peaceful protests at COZA branches in Lagos and Abuja.