Unconfirmed number of people missing and 123 rescued after ‘megachurch’ run by famous preacher collapses in capital.
The popular but controversial Nigerian evangelical preacher Temitope Balogun Joshua has died from an undisclosed cause, his church said on Facebook. He was 57.
The preacher, popularly known as TB Joshua, founded The Synagogue Church of All Nations, a Christian megachurch in Lagos.
The father of three was one of Africa’s most influential preachers with millions of television and social media followers. More than 15,000 people from Nigeria and abroad attend his Sunday services.
“God has taken his servant Prophet TB Joshua home … His last moments on earth were spent in the service of God,” the church wrote on its Facebook page on Sunday, without giving further details.
One of the pastor’s lawyers Olalekan Ojo also confirmed his death.
“I confirm that the man of God, pastor TB Joshua passed away on Saturday after his evening programme,” Ojo told AFP news agency.
Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the Nigerian capital Abuja, said the preacher was one of the most respected pastors in Africa’s most populous country.
“He rose to prominence in the 1990s at a time when there was an explosion of televangelism in Nigeria and many parts of Africa. He was one of the most followed preachers in Nigeria and [across] Africa,” Idris said.
He was also popular in South America where he had held many religious campaigns.
TB Joshua was known for making predictions and for his claims to cure various ailments and to make people prosper through miracles.
He was, however, controversial, with critics questioning his claims and saying he profited from people seeking hope.
According to Forbes, he had an estimated fortune of several million dollars.
Many African presidents, senior government officials, international football players, musicians and other high-profile guests have worshipped in his church.
In September 2014, the guest house of the church collapsed, killing more than 100 people, most of them foreigners who were in Nigeria to attend his services.
While authorities say the building collapsed because of structural defects, TB Joshua insisted the building was blown up by a small plane that he claimed flew over it shortly before it came down.
In April, the pastor’s YouTube channel, which has more than 1.8 million subscribers and 600 million views, was shut down over allegations of hate speech against LGBTQ people.
In one of his videos, watched more than 1.5 million times, a woman is seen being hit violently to “cure” her of her sexuality.
Homosexuality is illegal in Africa’s most populous country, and “homosexual acts” can carry a 14-year prison sentence.
Facebook had also removed several videos on Joshua’s page, which has more than 5.7 million followers, for his anti-LGBTQ remarks.