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SIX ways TB Joshua faked his miracles

The BBC unmasks, for the first time, how the late Nigerian televangelist TB Joshua faked the miracles that drew millions of people to his church.

The preacher, who is accused of widespread abuse and torture spanning almost 20 years, founded his Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) in Lagos more than three decades ago. His meteoric rise to fame was closely tied to his self-professed divine powers and his supposed ability to heal the sick.

The theatrical healings – showing the physically disabled walking and on one occasion purporting to resurrect a dead person – were filmed. Along with testimonies of those he claimed to have cured, they were then sent on VHS tapes to churches across the world.

In 2004, Nigeria’s broadcast regulator banned stations from airing the supposed miracles of pastors on live terrestrial TV, prompting Joshua to launch Emmanuel TV on satellite and then online. His global television and social media empire became one of the most successful Christian networks in the world.



His purported miracles were broadcast to millions across Europe, the Americas, South-East Asia and Africa. His YouTube channel had hundreds of millions of views.

But Joshua, who died in 2021 aged 57, was a fraud. The BBC’s investigation, involving more than 25 church insiders from the UK, Nigeria, Ghana, the US, South Africa and Germany, unpicks six ways in which he tricked worshippers.

1: The emergency department

An exclusive section of the church, named the “emergency department”, was responsible for making the so-called miracles look real.



This is where the sick, who came to be healed, would be screened, and where the team would decide who should be filmed and prayed for by Joshua.

Agomoh Paul, who supervised the department for 10 years – receiving direct instructions from Joshua, told the BBC that the team was “trained by medical doctors”.

He is a former disciple – one of an elite group of dedicated followers who lived with the pastor inside the Scoan compound.

“Any cancerous situation, they send them away. Then, people who had normal open wounds that can heal, they bring them in, to present as cancer,” he says.

Only a select group of trusted disciples were allowed to work in the emergency department. They would write placards for each follower to hold, detailing their made-up or exaggerated ailments. When it was time to meet Joshua, they would stand in line in front of the cameras and be “healed”.

“It was a complicated system. Not all disciples knew what was happening. It was a secret,” Mr Paul says.

2: Drugs

Every foreign visitor who came to the church to be healed had to fill out a medical report, detailing their illness and the medication they were currently prescribed.

They would be told to stop taking them, but Joshua would order pharmacists to procure the same medicine.

Without their knowledge they would “put those drugs in their fruit drinks,” explains Mr Paul, who said people would be urged to drink the cocktail that had been blessed by Joshua.

This meant while visitors were residing at Scoan they would not become unwell and would believe in the divine healing powers of their pastor.

In the 1990s when HIV/Aids had reached epidemic levels across parts of sub-Saharan Africa, Joshua told visitors to stop taking their antiretroviral medication when they returned home.

“I know people died because they didn’t take their medicine, and it’s difficult to live with that,” admits a former disciple, who asked not to be named.

South African Tash Ford, now 49, went to Lagos in 2001 in the hope of having her failing kidney healed but was told to stop taking her drugs.

“It was the promise that… you could supernaturally receive a new kidney,” she told the BBC.

At the time she had already had two kidney transplants. Ms Ford says the disciples said: “Stop taking your medication and just believe.”

She did believe she had been healed. But when she got home, after four weeks of not taking her medicine, she went into renal failure and was admitted to hospital.

The medics initially managed to save her kidney but eventually, it stopped working and she had to have kidney dialysis for more than six years before having a third transplant in 2011.

3: Brainwashing

Ms Ford says when she was at Scoan she never had any doubts: “I honestly thought we were seeing miracles. I literally couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I saw someone walk out of a wheelchair.”

The theatricality seemed to draw everyone in.

The former disciple told the BBC that after being screened, the chosen followers would be told to “exaggerate their problems so that God can heal you and exaggerate your healing”.

“The people, themselves, are being manipulated,” she says.

The church had a ready supply of wheelchairs which followers were coaxed to use. They were warned they would not be healed unless they sat in one when they met Joshua.

“We are telling them: ‘If you come out there, and walk with your legs, Papa will not pray for you. You need to shout: “Man of God, help me, I cannot walk,”‘” says Mr Paul.

Another former disciple, Bisola, who spent 14 years living at Scoan, accompanied Joshua on his National Healing Campaign at the Church of Our Saviour in Singapore in 2006.

She says she saw people in wheelchairs try to stand up after the pastor told the congregation “he had released faith into the stadium”.

However, these people had not been screened and she saw them fall down. “I was crying. I was crying for them,” she says.

The emergency department workers themselves were also being manipulated. They were subjected to horrifying ordeals, including rape, physical violence and torture, and lived by a strict set of rules – forbidden to sleep for more than a few hours at a time.

Now they struggle to understand how and why they continued to follow the pastor’s orders.

“TB Joshua told me: ‘Don’t worry, we use this thing to build people’s faith in Christ.’ I wasn’t having in mind that I was actually doing something wrong. I thought I was doing something that would help to build the faith of people in the church,” says Mr Paul.

For Ms Ford, it has meant she has lost all faith in organised religion: “I wish we had known that it was all a farce, that it wasn’t true. I was manipulated into believing that what the prophet was doing was supernatural, miracles, wonders, signs.”

4: Bribes

Some disciples allege they were charged with finding people who needed money to pretend to be sick.

When they performed healing crusades in countries outside Nigeria, they would go to the poorer areas of a city to search for people living in poverty.

“We would say: ‘We need you to just act out this particular scene and we will pay you,’” another former disciple told the BBC.

“We get them into hotels, we get them cleaned up. They come, they do what they do. We give them their money and the rest is history,” she says.

Before the service, they would tell Joshua which rows they had planted these people, and what clothes they were wearing, so he would know who to perform his supposed miracles on.

“People would be brought in just to pretend that they were healed,” she says.

5: Fake medical certificates

The “healing miracles” broadcast to millions regularly included medical reports stating people had been cured of HIV/Aids and diseases like cancer.

Doctors were interviewed on camera confirming the cures.

In 2000 Nigerian journalist Adejuwon Soyinka reported that these medical certificates were fake, but Joshua quashed his investigation and it went nowhere.

To this day some people believe they were healed, but insiders say it was all a performance on the late preacher’s part.

“The whole thing is stage-managed and faked. It’s faked,” says Mr Paul, describing Joshua as an “evil genius”.

There was nothing that took place in the compound that Joshua did not know about, he explains.

“TB Joshua was the one who masterminded the whole manipulation,” he says.

6: Video manipulation

The “miracles” were filmed and then edited to make it look like the supposed healing had happened instantaneously. Before and after footage was spliced together to show his purported miraculous powers, but in reality the films were shot months, or even a year, apart.

“All you see on TV is the before and after, you don’t know the time-space,” says Bisola, who was Scoan’s chief video editor for five years and worked on Emmanuel TV. Like other insiders interviewed by the BBC, she opted to only use her first name.

“What people see… is not real. It is fraud,” she says about the clips and broadcasts she oversaw.

“I am speaking now as someone who was an insider,” she says.

Anything they did not want viewers to see was “cut away”. It was all “organised”, she says.

The BBC contacted Scoan with the allegations in this investigation. It did not respond to them but denied previous claims against Joshua.

“Making unfounded allegations against Prophet TB Joshua is not a new occurrence… None of the allegations was ever substantiated,” it said.

This Africa Eye investigation was conducted by Charlie Northcott, Helen Spooner, Maggie Andresen, Yemisi Adegoke and Ines Ward.

BBC Eye Africa

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