By Chika Abanobi, Gabriel Dike, Job Osazuwa, Chinelo Obogo, Doris Obinna, Steve Agbota, Vera Bassey and Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
Prophet Temitope Balogun Joshua, prominent pastor and founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), may have had premonition of his death as he reportedly made veiled reference to it in his last official outing at the church located in Ikotun Egbe, a densely populated Lagos suburb.
Until his death, he ran the Christian Television programme called Emmanuel TV and often toured different countries carrying deliverance and healing sessions.
A statement by the church said the influential preacher and philanthropist died on Saturday, barely a week shy of his 58th birthday.
The statement titled Prophet TB Joshua – June 12th 1963 to June 5th 2021, read: “Surely the Sovereign LORD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants the prophets.” – Amos 3:7
“On Saturday 5th June 2021, Prophet TB Joshua spoke during the Emmanuel TV Partners Meeting: ‘Time for everything – time to come here for prayer and time to return home after the service.’ God has taken His servant Prophet TB Joshua home – as it should be by divine will. His last moments on earth were spent in the service of God. This is what he was born for, lived for and died for.
“As Prophet TB Joshua says, ‘The greatest way to use life is to spend it on something that will outlive it.’ Prophet TB Joshua leaves a legacy of service and sacrifice to God’s Kingdom that is living for generations yet unborn.
“The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations and Emmanuel TV Family appreciate your love, prayers and concern at this time and request a time of privacy for the family.
Here are Prophet TB Joshua’s last words: “Watch and pray. One life for Christ is all we have; one life for Christ is so dear.”
Describing his last moment, a worshipper at the church said Joshua refused to touch any church member during Saturday’s preaching which is against his usual practice.
“Yesterday (Saturday), he gave us the signal, but we weren’t paying attention; he said he was not going to lay hands on any of us and gave the microphone to someone and asked that person if he knew why he would not lay hands (on people). That person said no and Papa smiled. He said, ‘you will soon understand.’ Papa told us there will be a heavy rainfall today and that he might not be there to witness it but we didn’t consider his words. He asked us to keep praying and praying. We didn’t even know what for.
Among those who offered insight into into how he died, yesterday, was the Lagos Police Commissioner, Hakeem Odumosu. Joshua, he said, was officially pronounced dead by a hospital around 3am.
“I do not know the cause of his death yet. But the information we have is that he was conducting service. Along the line, he felt uncomfortable, walked to his apartment himself and never came back.
“His people thought he probably wanted to rest or refresh, but when they didn’t see him after a long while, they went in search of him and found him in an unusual position.It was around 3am that he was pronounced dead by a hospital.”
Cause of death unknown
The cause of his death has not yet been made public by either his family or the church. However, long-time member of the Church told Daily Sun that reports that TB Joshua was ill before he died were not true. The source said Joshua was in perfect health and did not show any symptom of fatigue or illness and was his usual boisterous self.
“After he had finished preaching, he handed over the microphone he was using to one of the wise men and as he was leaving, he slumped and died. It is not true that he was sick for days as some are reporting. He didn’t have any terminal illness that we know of. In fact, the church was seriously preparing for his birthday which was to come up on June 12. If he was sick, the church would not have been preparing for such a huge event. He wasn’t sick and I can tell you in all honesty that he fell down and died,” the source said.
‘Our prophet can’t die’
Regardless of the statement posted on its website confirming his death, many of his faithful have insisted he was not dead.
“It is fake news! And it will forever remain so. Papa cannot die. It is a lie from the pit of hell. Please don’t believe it. My spirit has never failed me. The spirit of God in me has not told me he has died, he cannot die. He will rise again.”
Another faithful was caught telling guards that barricaded the entrance to the church: “Open this gate for us, let us go in and convince him that we’re waiting for him. He cannot die like that, even in the next 10 to 20 years, TB Joshua cannot die. He is only in a coma, communicating with God in the spiritual realm.”
One believed the cleric is only taking a nap.
“There are plans underway for his birthday, which is this Saturday. How can he just die like that? How will we celebrate his birthday and he won’t be present? Papa is only taking a nap, we give him only seven days, you will be shocked. He will rise again.”
They believed that the man of God was only sleeping or the news was a kind of joke that must not be accepted.
“It is not possible for my daddy to die. He is a true prophet of God, who has conquered death long ago. When I heard the news, I laughed it off because I know our prophet is bigger than death. So, no cause for alarm,” a female member said.
Another member, Mr. Uche Okechukwu Chima, told reporters that it was impossible for a man who has been raising the dead to die.
“I believe that this is a trial of faith. I have been a member of this church since 2008, so I know what I’m saying. Those of us who really know the prophet can attest to the fact that he is not dead, and he can’t die when he still has a lot to do for the people. In matter of hours or days, what I’m saying will be confirmed. I have the confidence that my prophet is sleeping, not dead.”
Our husband is gone -Widows
Many of the widows, who lined up at the entrance to the church, told Daily Sun that they were directly hit by the prophet’s death. The described TB Joshua as a man who was not tired of giving them food and making them happy.
The widows converged in front of the church wailing and singing, “our husband is gone. How do we cater for ourselves? Who will feed us? Our husband is too young to die. Hope hunger wlll not kill us? God return TB Joshua back to us.”
In tears, they recalled how the man of God had on many occasions donated cash, foodstuff and other consumables to make life better for them. One of the widows, in her 70s, described Joshua as their adopted husband who fed and clothed them, even when their relatives abandoned them.
Mrs Funmilayo Ojo said he was an angel sent by God to feed widows and other less privileged people in Africa.
“Apart from Christmas period, he reached out to widows every month. He placed our children on scholarship and took care of them.”
Mama Ezekiel’s said the late TB Joshua has been supportive since the demise of her husband.
“I have three kids and daddy has been the one supporting with their school fees after the death of my husband as well as my rent since I moved down to Ikotun. I don’t know what would become of the thousands of people he has been catering for,” she lamented.
Mrs Sholanke Maria, 76, who came down to the church from Ikorodu, said TB Joshua healed her 53-year-old son who had hole in his heart.
“I went to see him at the mountain and told him about my sick child. He prayed for me. He gave me N50,000 to buy food and he also gave me anointing oil. I went to fetch his water and gave my son. And God healed my son.”
Another aged woman who did not give her name said: “I am one of the widows that TB Joshua helps even though I am not a member of this church. I didn’t come here yesterday but at 3pm on Saturday, I saw a man walk pass me in my room and I felt maybe it was the shadow of my neighbour. But no, my neighbour was not around and I was not even bothered again but this morning, I saw N1,050 in my Bible. I also didn’t pay attention, it’s not my money, there is no one else in the house to put the money there. I was just grateful to God because I know it is divine provision but as I got to my church today, already cleaning as an usher, I got a call, I had to rush down here. My helper is gone but his spirit will never leave me.”
Some other members around the woman confirmed that the prophet said he would visit them.
Kinsmen, traditional ruler, others demand corpse
The traditional ruler of Arigidi-Akoko in Ondo State, hometown of the late founder of Synagogue Oba Yisa Olanipekun has demanded the corpse of the late cleric.
The monarch in a statement urged the church authorities to ensure the corpse was brought to Arigidi-Akoko for burial.
He said the late prophet represented so many things to them, hence the need to have him buried in his home town.
“On behalf of the Zaki-in-Council, the High Chiefs, the Elders and immediate family members of our late son, I commiserate with the president, the Governor of Ondo State, my beloved people of Arigidi and the people of Nigeria in general for the loss of our illustrious son. I pray that God, in His infinite mercies will wipe off our tears,” he said.