Enoch Adeboye, the leader of the Redeemed Christian Church of God, has admonished upcoming leaders of the pentecostal movement to exercise ethical discretion over their sexual proclivities, saying he declined hiring a female secretary as one of the precautions against potential rape allegations.
“When you find yourself facing youthful lust, flee,” Mr Adeboye said Friday. “You may say I’m old fashioned, I agree. I’ll never have a private secretary who’s a woman.
Mr Adeboye’s comments, delivered at a monthly programme of the church Friday night, marked his first public reaction to the latest rape scandal to consume a famous preacher and founder of one of Nigeria’s biggest churches.
Biodun Fatoyinbo was accused last month of violent sexual misconduct by Busola Dakolo, a former member of his Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, COZA. Mrs Dakolo’s allegations, recounted in a video interview with YNaija, sparked wholesale condemnations and protests for the preacher’s resignation.
Mr Adeboye, 77, and popular across all segments of the Nigerian society, declined to directly mention Mr Fatoyinbo in his sermon, but said he was compelled to address the issues around the scandal, nonetheless.
He also acknowledged the authority of both the Christian Association of Nigeria and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria to directly address allegations of sexual violence and misconduct against pastors.
The Christian bodies have come under public pressure to demand better accountability from their member churches amidst growing allegations of misconduct against senior preachers, including Suleiman Johnson and Temitope Joshua. They all denied the allegations.
Both associations have made passing remarks about Mr Fatoyinbo’s scandal, but appeared incapable of exerting any disciplinary measures over the preacher, who resigned voluntarily on Monday despite denying the allegations.
But “I feel compelled to say some things to those that are young and up and coming ministers,” Mr Adeboye said, according to a transcript of the programme posted on Twitter. “There is nothing hid that shall not come to the open or made manifest. Mark 4:22.”
Mr Adeboye said young preachers should take extra safeguards around women — especially those out to ensnare them — because they would be less believed by the public should any claim of misconduct break out.
“When a woman accuses you of something, nobody will listen to you whether you’re right or wrong,” he said. “Be wise!”
Mr Adeboye said his advise may sound too outdated to the younger generation, but that it had worked for him since he was ordained in 1975.
“It is better to be old fashioned and live than modern and die,” he said.
Although most of Nigeria’s major preachers have continued to avoid publicly commenting on the rape allegations, Mr Adeboye has widened the list of those who have spoken out.
Earlier this week, two Lagos-based preachers, Sam Adeyemi and Poju Oyemade, sympathised with alleged rape victims of Mr Fatoyinbo and other colleagues in Christ, and called on pastors to be more scrupulous on their relationship with female followers.