Some members of the iReign Christian Ministry in Lagos were shocked on Friday when Bishop Feyi Daniels, the Church’s founder and senior pastor, was sentenced to life in prison by an Ikeja Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Court for raping a church member.
Members of the church, which is located at 1a Gbolade Adebanjo Crescent, Opebi, Ikeja, told reporters that Daniels was being victimised and that his detention would not hinder God’s mission.
On Friday, Daniels was sentenced to life in prison for raping his 23-year-old aide (name withheld).
Justice Rahman Oshodi, who handed the 324-page verdict, also condemned the beleaguered bishop to three years in prison for sexually assaulting another church member, aged 19.
He determined that the prosecution had shown beyond a reasonable doubt the elements of rape and sexual assault against Daniels, as charged in counts one and three.
He also stated that Daniels should spend the remainding of his life at the Kirikiri Custodial Facility in Lagos.
According to him, the testimony of the first prosecution witness was supported by that of the third witness.
However, the judge discharged and acquitted him of rape (count two) of another survivor (name withheld) on the grounds that consent was present.
Justice Oshodi also discharged and acquitted Daniels of attempted rape (count four) of another member of his church, aged 19.
According to him, the criminal had no respect for the truth and committed the crimes using his domineering personality and position as a priest.
Justice Oshodi said, “Oluwafeyiropo Daniels, I have convicted you of sexually violating two women, who were members of your church.
“The first one, you raped ferociously and caused her so much pain. The second, you sexually assaulted using your dominant character and position as a clergy.
“These offences are grievous and rape attracts life imprisonment, while sexual assault is punishable with three years’ imprisonment.”
The judge further stated that, while the defence lawyer, Adebayo Adegbite, begged the court to use its discretion in sentencing, the Lagos State law required a mandatory punishment for rape.
“Due to the seriousness and the ferocity of the attack on his victims, accordingly, I sentence you as follows: on count one, I sentence you to life imprisonment; on count three, I sentence you to three years imprisonment and you shall also serve your term in the maximum security custodial centre where you are currently being held,” he added.
Oshodi stated that the sentencing should take place concurrently, with the convict’s name being registered in the Lagos State Sex Offender Registry.
When the court asked the convict whether he had anything to say after his conviction, he remained mute.
In his allocutus (prayer for mercy), the defense attorney asked the court to balance justice and mercy.
Adegbite informed the court that the convict was a first-time offender with no prior convictions.
He also stated that the defendant was the breadwinner for his family and begged the judge to exercise his discretion in punishing him.
The state prosecution team, led by Babajide Boye, urged the court to convict Daniels as charged.
However, in response to Bishop Daniels’ conviction, several church members said he was unfairly persecuted because of his political connections.
Mrs. Peace, a woman claiming to be a leader in the church’s evangelism and welfare unit, said, “I know my pastor. He will overcome.
“Daniels has been a staunch attacker of this government and they are victimising him. Our God is not asleep. In this month of our fasting, we will not stop praying for him even while in captivity.”
After the verdict, Peace posted on X, “All because he gave a prophecy that did not go down well in the eyes of the Tinubu APC govt (sic). Make una continue.”
Another X user, Ikokwu Chidozie Ikemba, wrote, “There is a war against the church (iReign Christian Ministry) and it’s coming from the inside.”
Mrs Omopariola, Another member of the church, said, “Pastor cannot do that kind of thing. I have worshipped in that church for five years. Where is the evidence?
“Was there a hidden camera? This year is our year of abundance and this month is our month of answered prayers. I know this is not the end. God will intervene.”
An X user, @Nosafk, wrote, “The day your prophecy doesn’t favour them, they will come and arrest you for one thing or the other. Every opportunity is good to silence those who will call them out to be accountable.”
Calling the verdict ”nonsense”, another X user, @CheezyCharles, said, “Life imprisonment ke? What’s the proof? Abeg, he should go and appeal this nonsense!”
Calling it an attack on the church, some aggrieved members stated, “May God vindicate him”, “Our pastor is innocent”, “This is wickedness”, and “The body of Christ is under attack.”
A member, Doyin Okediran, also noted that “Our pastor is innocent. He did not do these things. I am sure God is in heaven watching and he will not allow his servant to suffer.”
For Ifeyinwa Mgbe, who stated that the verdict came as a”shock” to her, said, “I know this man of God. I worshipped under his unction. If I travel, I still join him online. I am still in shock.”
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