Former MFM pastor sues Olukoya, seeks N250m over alleged detention

MFM GO Daniel Olukoya
Daniel Olukoya

A former zonal pastor at the Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries (MFM) Sunday Olowoyeye has filed a suit against the general overseer of the church Daniel Olukoya, claiming illegal detention for 16 days.

Olowoyeye filed the suit at the Lagos High Court, Ikeja through his lawyer Adesina Ogunlana.

The co-respondents in the suit are the incorporated trustees of MFM, superintendent of police, Tawose Ayoleyi of the Federal Criminal Investigation Department, Alagbon, Ikoyi, Lagos, and the Nigeria Police Force.

In an originating motion on notice obtained by PM News, the former MFM pastor asked the court to order that Olukoya and the other respondents in the suit pay him the sum of N250 million for their “illegal and oppressive detention” of him at the Alagbon Police Station from May 28, 2021 to June 13, 2021.

In the affidavit filed in support of the motion on notice, Olowoyeye said he served as a cleric at MFM from 1992 to 2021. He said he was a zonal pastor at the Praise and Thanksgiving Parish of the denomination at Ayobo, Lagos.

According to him, his last salary before he was “unceremoniously and maliciously sacked” was N35,000. He said his troubles began when his wife got very sick in 2019 and he approached the church’s leadership for help since he had exhausted his financial resources. He added: “ I approached my immediate boss in the 2nd Respondent (MFM), one Pastor Simeon Tioluwani, my Regional Overseer to seek N50,000 on loan assistance from the ministry but the Regional Overseer rejected my request stating the unavailability of funds for medical treatment of sick members.”

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According to him, he wrote letters of appeal to Olukoya but got no response. He said that later MFM shut down all its outlets in April, 2020 to obey government directions during the COVID-19 lockdown. Olowoyeye said his salaries for April, May, June, July and August, were not paid but he initially assumed this was because of the lockdown only for him to learn later that all other MFM workers were paid during the period.

“I asked Pastor Tioluwani the reason for the stoppage of my salary to which he replied, ‘I am only carrying orders from above’. I pressed him further but to no avail and despite my repeated pleadings to him for about a week, his stance did not change at all,” he claimed. The embattled former MFM pastor said he wrote letters to Olukoya to complain about the stoppage of his salaries but rather than get redress, he was handed a letter terminating his employment.

In the affidavit, Olowoyeye said he contacted a blogger Maureen Badejo who broadcast his plight. He said some days after this, “the third respondent (Ayoleyi) got four policemen who violently and brutally arrested me at Shitta Roundabout, Surulere at about 11:00am and who took me, handcuffed, to her at Anthony Bus Stop, Ikorodu Road from where she took me to her Alagbon Police Station office, Ikoyi, Lagos”.

Olowoyeye claimed he was detained for 16 days and forced to make a video denouncing his complaints to Maureen Badejo with a promise that he would be paid N10 million. He said his resolve broke because of his “hellish detention”. He said he was only given N300,000 after he made the video.

In addition to the N250 million damages, the applicant wants the court to declare that his arrest and detention were illegal and an abuse of powers executed with excessive force and a violent breach of his fundamental human rights.

The matter will come up on Tuesday before Justice Taiwo Oladokun.