It has not been business as usual in Ikotun-Egbe, Lagos, since the tragedy that befell the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN). It would be recalled that on September 12, 2014, a guesthouse collapsed in the church’s premises in Lagos, killing at least 115 people, 84 of them South Africans.
As a result of the legal battles that ensued after the tragic event, life has not remained the same for the pastor.
Many observers were of the view that his absence was not unconnected with the devastating effect and mudslinging that has been associated with the church since September 12, last year.
Ikotun-Egbe, which used to be famous for T.B Joshua’s church has presently witnessed low movement of people to the area. Virtually every activity around the area has reduced.
“This church was the centre of attraction and nothing more. Now that church services have reduced, activities around here have toned down also” bemoaned Babatope Davies, who lives very close to the church.
Davis, who seemed to have a proper grasp of Ikotun-Egbe stressed further that he has been living in that place for about 30 years and witnessed the evolution of that environment.
“I have lived here for about 30 years. I know how this place was before T.B Joshua built his church. The church brought about banks, hotels and filling stations. In short, it opened up this place.”
In the same vein, a woman in her mid- forties, who gave her name simply as Alhaja Mulikat, told New Telegraph that the place was like a sort of ‘Mecca’ when the church was functioning.
“We are pleading with the government to leave T.B Joshua alone for the sake of Ikotun people. This place could be likened to a desert before TB Joshua built his church. Ever since his church was built, this place became crowded with Nigerians and foreigners. It was like the whole world came here,” she said. “I’m a Muslim and I have no business going into that church but the truth is that lack of activities in that church is affecting businesses here. We all are not happy with the tragedy because lives were lost and we also agree that no one is above the law but government needs to take into consideration how their action towards T.B Joshua is affecting lives negatively here. Why can’t this case be an exception?” she queried.
Business activities in other areas of Lagos could hardly match that of Ikotun-Egbe due to the presence of the church. The building is indeed an architectural masterpiece located in the heart of Ikotun-Egbe, the most visible in that area due to its towering image. A woman known as Madame Pat, who runs a popular restaurant, called ‘Feel Good’ Restaurant, told New Telegraph that she gets bored as a result of lack of customers.
“You can see my place is almost empty. Since morning, only two people have come to eat and this is 12 noon. By this time in the past, this place used to be filled up. Then, I raked home about N25,000 daily but now I can’t boast of N10,000 daily. I wouldn’t have had the chance to even speak with you like this because of customers. But now, I get bored. I want the government to understand our plight. Please we need T.B Joshua back.”
Miss Amaka, who runs a famous restaurant called Calabar kitchen, could not hide her disappointment as she told New Telegraph that she is thinking of relocating. “I don’t live around here. I come from Egbeda to do business here. I collected this shop to take advantage of the population here. But since last year, business had been terribly bad. I don’t make profit like I used to. Very soon, I would have to pay for this space because it is a rented one. I am thinking of relocating to Egbeda if things don’t change for the better as soon as possible.”
A filling station opposite the SCOAN building is also affected by the problem of the church. A pump attendant who pleaded for anonymity was of the view that “the number of vehicles that come to fill their tanks have reduced drastically. As you can see the place is virtually empty apart from the fuel scarcity.”
Outside the filling station, a long queue of Tricycles, commonly known as ‘Keke Napep’ were packed waiting for passengers. It was learnt from one of the riders that unlike before, it now takes a lot of time for passengers to come by.
Musiliu said, “We do not get passengers like before. I was about sleeping before you came ask me questions. Since T.B Joshua’s problem, business has extremely been dull.” Kelvin Rufai Abiodun, a former manager of Ken Dallas Hotel and Suite said, “Foreigners used to stream enmasse to the hotel when things were good at the church.
It was like we were in a foreign land then because we used to trade in dollars most of the time. Although I have never left the shores of this country, I have had experience with many white people because of T.B Joshua’s church.”
He also said that, “Landlords were turning their houses into guest houses because it became a very lucrative business.” In Kaywy Lodge, a hotel along Segun Irefin Street, very close to SCOAN, customers are currently paying half-price.