New Telegraph

T.B. Joshua’s burial: Akoko community loses out

Against the wishes of the traditional ruler and people of Arigidi-Akoko and Akoko over the final resting place of Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, popularly known as T.B. Joshua, Babatope Okeowo reports that the immediate family and the church have had their way, making the community the greatest loser in the battle for the remains of the man of God

The final resting place of the founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua had pitched the Akoko community who wanted him buried in Arigidi-Akoko against the church and his immediate family who wanted him buried in Lagos where the church’s headquarter is located. The founder of SCOAN, popularly known as T.B. Joshua, died on June 6 a few days to his 58 birthday. Since his demise, the people from all walks of life have been mourning his untimely death of the ‘man in the synagogue’. Even politicians left their partisan affiliations to commiserate with the family while the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) wrote a condolence letter to the church. Since the incident happened, the palace of the Zaki of Arigidi-Akoko, Oba Yisa Olanipekun has become a Mecca of sorts as people from all walks of life trooped in to commiserate with the monarch over the death of one of the illustrious sons of the community. The wife of T.B. Joshua, Evelyn has also played host to prominent Nigerians who had come to commiserate with her.

T.B Joshua’s contribution to the Akoko people

Since the announcement of his death, the four local governments in the Akoko area have been in mourning. Joshua, a native of Arigidi, in Akoko Northwest Local Government Area of Ondo State was a candle that lit up a whole community as he contributed to the wellbeing of the citizens of the four council areas in Ondo North senatorial district.

For years, the four local governments in Akoko, namely Akoko South West, Akoko South East, Northeast and northwest, were in darkness when they were cut off from the national grid by the distribution company. It was said that Prophet Joshua contributed about N31 million for the restoration of electricity in the area. Both Akoko and Ondo South senatorial districts were cut off from the national grid by the Benin Electricity Distribution Company (BEDC). To ensure that light was restored to the affected councils, the clergyman donated N8.1 million which was paid to BEDC.

This was followed by another donation of N8.1 million for transformer replacement and other accessories. The two donations were different from the sum of N9.4 million paid for the provision of electricity. It must be noted that Ondo South had not been connected to the national grid despite several protests and moves by both political leaders and the state government. But T.B Joshua ensured that his people were connected to the national grid singlehandedly. Aside restoring electricity to the people, he donated vehicles to the Police and Army to patrol the four council areas in order to check incessant kidnapping and violent crimes in the area.

During the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, T.B Joshua ensured the distribution of palliatives to all the four local governments in Akoko. The traditional rulers in the area were not left out as they benefited from his largesse.

Akoko mourns

When New Telegraph got to Arigidi-Akoko, residents were seen in groups discussing the tragedy that had befallen the ancient town. Oba Olanipekun noted that the late prophet attracted many development projects to the town. He identified such projects to include the on-going multi million naira church pavilion, construction of roads and the provision of patrol vehicles for the police in Arigidi Akoko among others. Many churches that had begun their day’s service before the news of T.B. Joshua’s demise filtered in turned their sermons to eulogies to the man they called the “illustrious son of Akokoland”.

One of the clergymen, Pastor Gabriel Agbaje spoke glowingly of the late prophet’s selfless service especially to the needy, describing him as a lover of peace. Similarly, Bishop Michael Abe was also full of tributes to the deceased saying the elderly and less privileged would miss his annual gift of foodstuffs and other kind gestures. A Muslim cleric, Sheikh Jimoh Balogun noted that he was one of the beneficiaries of the renowned prophet saying he was a detribalised and kind individual. Another resident, a woman simply called ‘Munirat’, who was seen shedding tears uncontrollably, said no one would replace T.B. Joshua for them.

The controversy

The monarch had inadvertently stoked the controversy when he told New Telegraph that T.B. Joshua appeared to him the day he died signifying that he wanted to be buried in Arigidi-Akoko contrary to the expectation that he would be buried in Lagos where the preacher lived, preached and died. Oba Olanipekun insisted T.B. Joshua appeared to him the day he was to die.

The monarch said immediately he appeared to him, around 1 am on Sunday, he told people and security guards in the palace that a great man had died in the town. Oba Olanipekun said T.B. Joshua came to bid him farewell before he was pronounced dead in Lagos where his church is located. The appearance of Joshua at the palace, the monarch said, showed how the late televangelist valued his hometown, Arigidi- Akoko. He said the traditional rulers in the four Akoko local governments have decided to give him a befitting burial and that he must be buried in the town, contrary to the position of church members.

Oba Olanipekun told New Telegraph that T. B. Joshua had accomplished his mission on earth and God had taken him to his side. His words: “We can handle all his burial arrangements, not only Arigidi but all the Akokos’, comprising the four local governments. We don’t joke with him; we know what he has done for us. “The Prophet had it in mind that he was coming home, so why would they bury his remains in Lagos? That is what he wants! He is from here.

Look at these late pastors; Moses Orimolade was brought to Ikare, Ayo Babalola was taken to Ikeji-Arakeji, Pastor Timothy Obadare was taken to Ilesa in Osun State, among others, so why will ours be different? “Is he from Lagos? So, they should please, don’t get the whole Akoko angry with them because all the Obas in Akoko have been calling me in respect of that. Some places in Ondo State have had no light for the past six years but he solved our problems, bought transformers, fixed everything and paid, so it is not only my battle but the whole Akoko. As you can see, I have not been myself because this is a great loss to me, my family and the whole Akoko and even the world in general.

“The day he died, he visited me at night, I sat down here in this palace, and I called one of the security men if he could hear the noise of crusaders but moving some steps, the whole noise stopped. So, most of the time, I call him ‘papa’.

I didn’t believe he was dead until a reliable source told me his remains had been deposited at the morgue. “His visit to me the night of his death signifies that this is where he comes from and wants to be buried. He has a lot of dreams for the town.

He has acquired lots of land where he is building a church and school. “What he told me was that, after 50 years of age, he was going to come back home and he had it in mind to complete that project as soon as possible, meaning he wanted to move his church to Arigidi Akoko.” Similarly, the immediate elder brother of T.B. Joshua, Mr Sunday Balogun said the late televangelist must be buried at his hometown just like other prophets before him. Balogun said it was the decision of the family members that the late televangelist must be buried at his hometown. Also, Chief Mr. Agnes Dada, who is the Chairperson of the Council of Iyalode in Akokoland, said the people would not want their son to be buried outside the domain.

The woman, who spoke at Zaki’s palace, said: “The death of our son is so disheartening, from the four Akoko local governments, we know that we have lost a great soul. Our son T.B. Joshua has done a lot to help Akoko, to help Ondo State, Nigeria and the world at large, what a great pity to hear that he is dead. We didn’t believe it until we heard it in the media.

Our son, our father, our everything has gone. All the Akoko women chiefs are sad because T. B. Joshua is a great man. He is a man who God has chosen and during his lifetime, he helped many people even outside Nigeria. Other countries in the world know his impact.

“He did not devote himself to only Arigidi-Akoko or Nigeria alone but the whole world at large. We are very proud of him and I know that God has received him in His own right hand. We are in support of our king, the Zaki of Arigidi-Akoko, that his remains should be brought home. That is the only condolence we want because he is our son and we are eager to see that he is buried here.

“He has a lot of projects going on here. If his remains are brought home, I know that his church members, and the world at large will be coming to Arigidi-Akoko and that will give us condolences and anybody can go to his grave to pray because he is a mighty man.” The preponderance of the opinion in Arigidi-Akoko and other Akoko towns is that the prophet must be buried in the town contrary to the feeling of the church and his wife. Their argument is that the late Prophet did not have a male child who would come to the town as all his children were female who would get married and leave for their husbands’ houses.

The on-going church pavilion and school have not taken off and nothing would make people come to the town if he is not buried in the town. Sadly, these arguments did not sway the church and his immediate family who decided to bury him in Lagos.

A senior member of the church, Prince Tunde Olanipekun told New Telegraph that the family have had their way on the burial site of the man of God. Olanipekun, who is a member of the burial committee, said a week-long burial arrangement, starting from July 7, would take place simultaneously in Arigidi- Akoko and Lagos. He said a foundation had been set up to take care of the fears of the Akoko people as all the projects of Prophet T.B. Joshua in Arigidi-Akoko would continue even after the burial.

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