Tears flowed as eminent Nigerians, family, friends and benefactors gathered at the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Ikotun Egbe, Lagos, to bid its founder, the late Prophet T.B. Joshua, farewell.
The late Joshua was buried around 2.53pm on Friday on the church’s premises in the presence of his wife, Evelyn Joshua, his children, officiating ministers and senior members of the church.
Many members of SCOAN were emotional during the ceremony as they were seen wailing and bidding him farewell as the casket bearing his remains was carried out of the church’s auditorium by pallbearers for interment.
The late evangelist, who hailed from Arigidi Akoko in Ondo State, died on June 5 at the age of 57.
Present at the ceremony were the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu (SAN); the Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Prince Anofiu Elegusi; and representatives of the Delta State Governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa; and the Deputy Senate President, Ovie Omo-Agege.
The ceremony was also attended by the wife of the Ooni of Ife, Olori Naomi Adeyeye-Ogunwusi; wife of a former president, Dame Patience Jonathan; religious, traditional and political leaders from different countries as well as delegations from other countries in Africa, Europe, Asia, South America and North America, among others.
Also at the ceremony were officials of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to monitor compliance with the guidelines for the prevention of COVID-19.
Traders shut Ikotun markets to honour deceased
Ikotun market on Ikotun Egba Road was shut in honour of the late prophet as a large crowd of residents and traders gathered at the entrance of the church to catch a glimpse of the burial ceremony.
Many of them who could not enter the church gathered in clusters around TV screens provided in the area to enable them to follow the event.
But security agents from the Nigeria Police Force, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Federal Road Safety Corps as well as members of the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps were seen in strategic areas outside and on the church premises for crowd control and to present a breakdown of law and other.
Joshua performed miracles as school pupil, supported me when I became gov – Akeredolu
Earlier, Akeredolu had said though the late Joshua was not born into an affluent family, he grew up as a special child who performed miracles even as a primary school pupil.
He said, “From the accounts of his peers, he was a special child. Maybe he never knew it was miracles he was performing when he was in primary school; he was special because he performed miracles even in primary school, and I say this from the facts I gathered from his mates.
“He was one who could tell his mate in primary school not to play because he might break his leg. And if he proceeded to play, he would come back with a broken leg. So, he was special. Perhaps, that could have been the reason for his great adventure in life.”
He said the state government did not prevail on the bereaved family to bury the late cleric in Agiridi Akoko as a mark of respect for the decision of the family of the deceased.
“The Zaki of Arigidi called me to mobilise me against him (Joshua) being buried in Lagos. Kabiyesi was in tears; he (deceased) was the only person who died and the whole town closed markets and shops for one week. Kabiyesi was convinced that we should bring the body to Arigidi and I said to Kabiyesi, ‘I’m governor but I think the prophet has a family. Where his remains will lie is for the family to decide, not for me.”
The governor said T. B. Joshua’s death was a great loss to his hometown and the state, where he had planned to build a church and a university, and would not only be remembered by the underprivileged but also the privileged that benefited from him spiritually and economically.
Recalling how the founder of SCOAN supported him after his election, the governor said, “I can testify personally to the good things I have benefited from him. Pastor T.B. Joshua, when I won election to be governor of Ondo State, came. He drove to Owo, my hometown. I think something happened to his vehicle in Akure but he still managed to get to Owo.
“I saw him in trousers and a shirt and said, ‘Emmanuel!’ I came over – no other person has ever done that before – and he told me I was the governor of the state and had been elected and that he had come to wish me well. He prayed and when he was leaving, he put something in my pocket.
“I won’t tell you how much he put in my pocket but it was a great thing he put in my pocket. He said, ‘As governor, you will need to entertain people. Take this.’ He said, ‘Madam also will entertain people; give this to her.’ I can tell you I delivered it; you can ask her.”
Sanwo-Olu said the late Joshua ran a purposeful race and was intentional about his ministry.
The governor, represented by the Commissioner for Home Affairs, said, “There is a time and purpose for everything in life. Prophet Joshua, whom we are here to honour, ran a purposeful race, was intentional about his pastoral ministry and I chose to dwell on his phenomenal impact.”
Adeyeye-Ogunwusi, in her tribute, described the deceased as a spirit transformed.
Some traders in the area who spoke to Saturday PUNCH described the deceased as a generous man whose selflessness should be emulated by all Nigerians, irrespective of religion.
A driver in the area, Kareem Ganiyu, said, “I am a Muslim. The man is very generous; if others behave the way he did, everything will be okay. We have to love ourselves. In Nigeria, there is no love. That is why things are not in order. Let us love ourselves.
The treasurer of Ifelodun Fruit Sellers, Fatai Oduntan, said the market was shut as a mark of respect for the late cleric who contributed to the development of the market.
Responding on behalf of the family, the first daughter of the late evangelist, Sarah Joshua, thanked Nigerians and other well-wishers across the world for honouring her father and supporting the family and the church.
Earlier, one of the officiating ministers, Prophet Chris Aldrich, in his sermon titled ‘The Legacy Lives On,’ said God gave Joshua to the world for a short time for a reason.
Aldrich said the secret of the late evangelist’s ministry was the life he lived and his relationship with God.
“In the beginning, they did not understand him, so they called him names. In the beginning, they could not comprehend him, so they condemned him. But today, the story has changed. I think we have a lot of lessons to learn from Prophet T.B.; there is no signboard in his name, yet his name is written in the hearts of many throughout the world.”
Top Nigerian pastors absent at burial
Meanwhile, top Nigerian pastors and religious leaders were absent were Joshua was laid to rest.
Among the top pastors absent are Enoch Adeboye of the Redeemed Christian Church of God; Pastor Sam Adeyemi of Daystar Christian Centre; Bishop David Oyedepo of the Living Faith Church also known as Winners Chapel; W.F Kumuyi of Deeper Life Church; Paul Enenche of Dunamis Church; and Lazarus Mouka of the Mountain of Fire Church.
Others are Chris Okotie of the Household of God Church International Ministries; Tunde Bakare of Citadel Global Community Church (formerly Latter Rain Assembly), and Matthew Ashimolowo of Kingsway International Christian Centre.
When the televangelist died, the Christian Association of Nigeria and many pastors were initially silent.
However, 72 hours after the death of the founder of SCOAN, CAN issued a terse statement to condole his family and SCOAN congregation.
The condolence, which observers believed was belated, followed condemnation of its silence among Christendom and several organisations on social media.
Critics wondered why CAN would commiserate with others but wait for a long time before making a statement on Prophet T. B. Joshua.