The televangelist who claimed to heal Aids and counted Premier League stars among his followers

TB Joshua – whose church has been linked to missing aristocrat Constance Marten – claimed to have healed thousands, including former Arsenal and Nigeria forward Nwankwo Kanu

Thomas Kingsley
Monday 13 February 2023 13:35 GMT
Pastor TB Joshua of the Synagogue, Church of All Nations in Agere, Lagos, Nigeria
Pastor TB Joshua of the Synagogue, Church of All Nations in Agere, Lagos, Nigeria (EMPICS Sport)

Nigerian pastor Temitope Balogun Joshua was considered one of Africa's most influential evangelists. Born into poverty on 12 June 1963, he suggested he was a “miracle child” after claiming he was in his mother’s womb for 15 months.

As a young man he spoke of heavenly visions from God, having also proclaimed that he was “prophesied” 100 years before.

One of those visions led him to form his own ministry in Lagos in 1987 – the Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) – which would become a so-called megachurch in the city. At one point, it welcomed 15,000 worshippers each Sunday with visitors from all over the world travelling to Lagos to see it in action.

His rise to prominence in the late 1990s coincided with the explosion of “miracle” programmes performed on national TV by various pastors.

He became one of the country’s best known televangelists, primarily through Christian television station Emmanuel TV, and claimed to have healed all manner of illnesses, including HIV/Aids. It was at his megachurch in Lagos that aristocrat Constance Marten spent several months in 2006 and 2007. The Independent has spoken to former “disciples” who have described the disturbing practices that took place there and how followers were subjected to sexual assault and psychological trauma. The revelations include claims that Ms Marten was forced to eat leftovers of the charismatic founding “prophet” TB Joshua.

When the Ebola outbreak began, he reportedly sent 4,000 bottles of “annointing water” to Sierra Leone. It was even claimed that he healed Arsenal and Nigeria forward Nwankwo Kanu, as well as former Premier League defender Joseph Yobo.

Aside from healing, he also claimed to have predicted news events, including the disappearance of the Malaysian plane MH370.

TB Joshua prepares to heal someone as his ‘disciples’ look on (Screengrab )

Simply known as “The Prophet” by his followers, Joshua was one of the key figureheads of the institution and was described by Forbes as one of “Nigeria’s most controversial clergyman”.

In 2014, one of his churches collapsed, killing at least 116 people, including many South Africans. A coroner in a Lagos court said “the church was culpable because of criminal negligence”, but he never faced any charges.

His YouTube account - which had 1.8million subscribers - was suspended in 2021 over videos which showed the preacher conducting prayers to “cure” gay people. Facebook also removed a video which showed him slapping a woman to, it was claimed, remove a “demonic spirit”.

Due to Scoans’s global reach - helped by social media and former bases in the UK and the US - “disciples” from all over the world have travelled to Lagos to live at the church, where they reportedly stay in “cramped” gender-separated dorms that could fit up to 100 people each.

TB Joshua was considered a ‘prophet’ or ‘man of God' (Screengrab)

TB Joshua, who often toured Africa, the US, the UK and South America, died on 5 June 2021, days before his 58th birthday and shortly after conducting a live broadcast. His cause of his death has not been made public.

A post on his Facebook page, which has more than five million followers, said: “God has taken His servant”.

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