An Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court on Friday sentenced founder of iReign Christian Ministry, Feyi Daniels, to life imprisonment for “raping a church member”.
The trial judge, Rahman Oshodi, found the Lagos-based cleric guilty of rape and sexual assault of a female worshipper.
The PUNCH earlier reported that the bishop, who took to the witness box in his own defence, testified that he believed three out of the four women who accused him of sexually assaulting them conspired to turn against him.
While fielding questions under cross-examination, the prosecution’s lead counsel, Babajide Boye, sought to establish that the defendant, Bishop Daniels, had a ‘personal relationship’ with the four women.
Boye alleged that the defendant had counselled one of the women, given the amount of N100,000 to another for hospital treatment, paid school fees for a third, and related with a fourth as a leader in the campus fellowship affiliated with his ministry at Akungba-Akoko in Ondo State.
But the bishop denied giving money to one of the women for treatment.
“I believe all three ladies turned against me, but not (name withheld) because she later apologised to me.”
When asked why the accusations from the ladies were all sexual in nature, the defendant said he didn’t know.
Boye also accused the defendant of using his position as a pastor to manipulate persons who come to him for counselling.
“You are a man of God. Are you not? A powerful man of God. You get trained to counsel, and you use wisdom and the leading of the spirit to manipulate,” he asked.
However, Daniels denied this allegation, saying, “I am not a powerful man; I am a pastor. I do not use power to counsel people; I am not a manipulator.”
The Prosecutor further grilled the defendant, “You visited your Akungba fellowship centre, and when she (one of the alleged victims) saw you, she hissed. Were you not surprised as a pastor?
“No. She was disgruntled because I couldn’t help her financially”, he replied.
The defendant also denied tampering with the WhatsApp messages between him and one of his alleged victims.
During cross-examination, the prosecutor also sought to tender four statements purportedly written by the defendant whilst in police custody at various intervals last year.
“There are contradictions between the defendant’s testimony and the contents of the documents. We seek to use them to impeach his testimony. We rely on section 232 of the Evidence Act, that evidence even though obtained improperly is still admissible and we urge the court to admit same,” Boye said.
The defence counsel, Adebayo Adegbite, raised objections to the admissibility of the statements, arguing that the statements were not made by the defendant, adding that the bishop signed them under duress.
“The statements are a mixture of confession and denial. We leave it to the court to determine whether they amount to a confession. Right from the start of this trial, the defendant has denied the charges, that’s his plea. The documents weren’t made voluntarily. Even if there were contradictions, he wasn’t the maker of the documents, they were written by the police,” Adegbite stated.
Meanwhile, in his ruling, Justice Rahman Oshodi admitted the documents, saying “By section 9(3) and (4) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos State (2021), the presence of a video testimony of the suspect is desirable, but not compulsory. I will admit the documents and later consider the evidential value to place on them. The objection of the defence is hereby overruled.”