Five Britons reportedly among alleged rape and torture victims of church leader

Five Britons were victims of alleged widespread sexual abuse and torture by a formerly renowned Nigerian preacher, it has been reported.

Evidence of rape and forced abortions, as well as physical violence, by the late TB Joshua, founder of one of the world’s biggest Christian evangelical churches, the Synagogue Church of All Nations, has allegedly been uncovered in a BBC Africa Eye investigation.

The allegations of abuse, said to have taken place in a secretive Lagos compound, span almost 30 years and come from more than 25 former members of the church.

A British woman, named only as Rae, allegedly spent 12 years as one of Joshua’s so-called “disciples” in the compound after giving up her degree at Brighton University in 2002 aged 21.

Rae, who compared her experience to being in a cult, told the BBC she was sexually assaulted by Joshua and subjected to a form of solitary confinement for two years, leading to multiple suicide attempts.

She told the broadcaster: “We all thought we were in heaven, but we were in hell, and in hell terrible things happen.”

The British alleged victims were all between 15 and 21 years old when they joined the church, and some of them had their transportation to Lagos paid for by Joshua, in co-ordination with other UK churches, the BBC reported.

Four of them claimed they reported the alleged abuse to the UK police after escaping the church, and were referred to Interpol, saying no further action was taken.

A husband and wife from the UK said they sent witness accounts and video evidence of their ordeal to the British High Commission in Nigeria in March 2010 after fleeing the church.

The woman told the BBC she was repeatedly sexually assaulted and raped by Joshua. The couple say they warned the commission that other British nationals were still inside the compound.

Another victim named Anneka, who left Derby in the UK to join the church at the age of 17, told the BBC she believes there are many other victims who have yet to speak out.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office said: “We take all reports of crime, including sexual assault and violence against British nationals overseas, very seriously.

“Our trained consular teams are contactable 24 hours a day, ready to offer support and advice to British nationals, including on how to report such crimes to the local authorities.

“We always encourage British nationals who want to raise rape and sexual assault allegations, whether current or historic, to contact our consular teams who can support them to report these to the authorities.”

TB Joshua, who died in 2021, had a huge global following.

The Synagogue Church of All Nations did not respond to the BBC’s allegations but said previous claims have been unfounded.

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