A Civil Society Group, National Human Rights Community (NHRC) has reacted to a statement credited to Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka calling for the prosecution of the Pastor of Synagogue Church of All Nations(SCOAN), Prophet T.B Joshua over the collapse of a building in the church premises. NHRC reminded Prof Soyinka that the case over the collapsed building is currently ongoing before a competent court at the High Court of Lagos State.
In a statement, NHRC said the respected Professor should have been armed with the correct information before making the statement calling for the trial of Pastor Temitope Joshua.
“The trial has been on-going. The prosecutors and the defense lawyers have been arguing their cases in the law court. As we speak, Pastor Joshua and his Church have not been found guilty by the law court. We do not understand what other trial the learned Professor is talking about” the NHRC said in a statement signed by its officials, Taye Adeleye and Mark Eke Alozie.
Prof Soyinka had said at a book launch that Joshua should be tried by the law court over the collapse of the building. “We find the position of the Professor Soyinka strange. We wish to remind him that the court in Lagos has been prosecuting this case including using the evidence provided by witnesses”, the NHRC said.
The NHRC established in 2005 is a coalition of 135 civil society spread across the country. NHRC is also member of the Human Rights Network, (HURINET) coordinated by the British Council and the African Civil Rights Network.
According to the group, there are witnesses who said they sighted a flying object few minutes before the collapse of the building. These objects could be a drone, or light helicopter adding that it is left for the court not an individual to investigate and come up with solutions. The officials said given the current state of banditry and violence, those who claimed they sighted a flying object may be correct. Prof Soyinka should be aware that terrorists in Nigeria use drone and this did not start today.
The NHRC said “Pastor Joshua is not above the law. That was why he has been taken to court. What we oppose is what looks like a sectarian plot to draw conclusions even when the legal processes are yet to be concluded. This raises the public fear that Pastor Joshua is a target of some influential individuals based on personal interests. They want to destroy him and all the good work he has been doing especially meeting the needs of the people when relevant authorities have failed.”
The group said Pastor Joshua has made tremendous contributions to promoting the right to life and living by millions of Nigerians and black people all over the world. The NHRC urges Prof Soyinka to visit the Church and the aspect of the Church’s humanitarian services which is the best in Nigeria. The group said all victims of the unfortunate collapsed building were touched by the Church in ways the grieving families will never forget in a country where victims of accidents are left to nurse their wounds.
“He has brought hope to millions of despairing population all over the world. He has brought respect to Nigeria. He has shown that something good can come out of Africa. His worship centre inspires millions of people against violence, gives inspirational speeches in the face of despondency, provides psychological treatment to millions of Nigerians in trauma occasioned by the harsh realities of life in Nigeria. He is one of the greatest phenomenons that have ever come out of Africa. This is apart from the fact that he has provided jobs for millions of people in need.”
The group said millions of people come to Nigeria from Europe, Asia and America for the simple reason of coming to the church .Many foreigners would never think of coming to Nigeria if not for the Church.
NHRC said all these achievements do not make him to be above the law but that they should also be taken into consideration by those bent on destroying his name.