At least three persons who were struggling to see the Senior Pastor of Synagogue Church of all Nations (SCOAN), Ikotun, Lagos State, Prophet T.B Joshua, have been confirmed dead as a result of a stampede.
PUNCH reports that the tragic incident occurred on Saturday at about 4.30AM during a special healing service.
While two of the victims were identified as Emeka Okonkwo and Emmanuel Oherin, the third victim had yet to be identified.
A source said that the two victims were identified through their phones and their families have been contacted.
“It was the church’s annual deliverance and healing programme. Usually at this time, the church becomes a beehive of activities as people come in their thousands to see the prophet for miracles. People lodge in different hotels surrounding the church. And they all arrive at the church very early.
There is a canopy on the premises where worshippers are screened before they see the man of God. However, on Saturday, after being screened, the crowd was much and they started struggling through the doorway to see the prophet. In the process, three people collapsed. They were rushed to the Isolo General Hospital, where they were confirmed dead,” another source told PUNCH.
PUNCH reports that as at 2PM, a service was still on in the church.
An official of the church who spoke on the condition of anonymity said:
Mr. Folarin (PUNCH’s correspondent), while I appreciate the fact that you have to do your job as a journalist, I also must protect my personal integrity. I will advise you send a mail to [email protected] to confirm before publishing any story. Sometimes, rumours get to the press and injure the reputation (of) our subjects, thereby making journalism look like a witch-hunt. I will also advise you to be most objective. Please send a mail to the email address before publishing any story.
An email sent to the address was not replied to as at press time.
When a call was placed to a telephone number on the church’s website, an official with a foreign accent said: “Nothing happened on the church premises yesterday. Nobody died. Nobody. Thank you.”
However, the Lagos Police PRO, SP Dolapo Badmos confirmed the incident.
“The story is true. Investigation is ongoing as we await the result of the autopsy. For now, we are treating the case as sudden and unnatural deaths,” Badmos said.