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Prophet TB Joshua of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and one of the Nigeria’s most influential and wealthiest pastors, will host a New Year’s memorial service for the South African relatives of those killed in a building collapse at his Lagos megachurch.
A spokesman at Joshua’s SCOAN said 44 South Africans have flown to Lagos to attend the ceremony following the September disaster which killed 116 people, including 81 South Africans.
Joshua, a self-proclaimed prophet, “is going to lead the service to commiserate and offer spiritual support,” said SCOAN spokesman Patrick Iwelumor.
“As the chief mourner, there is a need for (Joshua) to connect with these people,” he added. The Lagos state coroner is carrying out an inquest into the causes of the collapse at a guesthouse within the church’s compound.
Expert witnesses have said the structure was unsound and lacked proper permits, but Joshua’s vocal followers have insisted the building came down as a result of foul play and was a bid to destroy the powerful religious leader.
The victim’s relatives arrived in Nigeria on Christmas Day and Joshua is said to have paid for their travel. When the trip was announced earlier this month, some South Africans took to social media to condemn Joshua’s move as a bribe aimed at discouraging relatives from filing a lawsuit over the deaths.
But SCOAN’s South Africa based spokesman, Kirsten Nematandani, has said the trip and New Year’s memorial service are about “the spirit of caring”.
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