T.B. Joshua, one of Nigeria’s most controversial and wealthiest preachers, felt uncomfortable in the middle of an evening church service and died hours later in his apartment in Lagos on Saturday. The cause of Joshua’s death has not been disclosed.
Known as the Prophet by his followers, Joshua founded the Synagogue Church of All Nations megachurch.
"God has taken His servant Prophet TB Joshua home – as it should be by divine will," the church said on Facebook. "His last moments on earth were spent in the service of God. This is what he was born for, lived for and died for. As Prophet TB Joshua says, 'The greatest way to use life is to spend it on something that will outlive it.'"
The Nigerian news outlet The Nation reports that Joshua was conducting a church service when he began to feel uncomfortable. He is said to have passed away around 2 a.m., hours after returning to his apartment.
The outlet reports that his aids discovered him in an unusual position.
According to the church, Joshua's last words were “Watch and pray." He died six days before his 58th birthday.
The day he died, Joshua spoke during the Emmanuel TV Partners Meeting, “Time for everything – time to come here for prayer and time to return home after the service." Emmanuel TV is the broadcast arm of the church and airs across Africa.
“Prophet TB Joshua leaves a legacy of service and sacrifice to God’s Kingdom that is living for generations yet unborn," the church said in a statement.
Joshua rose to prominence in the late 1990s. He became known over the years for his teachings on prosperity and philanthropic efforts. He also made headlines with claims of miracles.
Joshua’s followers believed that he was a faith healer. He was also known by some as “The Man of God.”
Joshua has faced controversy over the years.
In 2015, he was indicted by a coroner of criminal negligence in a building collapse in September 2014 that killed 116 worshipers.
“The church must be investigated and prosecuted for not obtaining the relevant approval before embarking on the construction of the building,” coroner Oyetade Komolafe said in his ruling, AFP reported at the time. “The church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims.”
Joshua had initially claimed that Islamic extremists from Boko Haram could have been behind the collapse.
In 2014, Joshua announced that more than 4,000 bottles of his powerful anointing water, which users claimed had worked many miracles, were sent to help victims of the deadly Ebola virus in Sierra Leone, Liberia.
“The Anointing Water was sent in a private jet that cost an additional $50,000 to charter, making $100,000 given by Prophet T.B. Joshua and the Emmanuel TV Partners to reach out to the troubled nation,” his ministry wrote on Facebook at the time.
“By using the Anointing Water, you are symbolically setting yourself apart for Jesus Christ’s special attention as you pray in faith. I mean, you are positioned for mercy, favor, healing, deliverance, blessing, prosperity and fruitfulness,” Joshua wrote on the website at the time.
“It is not the Anointing Water that heals the sick but Jesus Christ Himself,” he added. “There must be faith both in the person praying and in the person being prayed for. Prayer must proceed from and be accompanied with a lively faith. It is this that brings about the healing, not the Anointing Water.”
Earlier this year, Joshua's YouTube channel was shut down due to a video in which he claimed to have cured gay members of his congregation, which drew accusations from the United Kingdom-based organization OpenDemocracy of conversion therapy.
Nigeria President Muhammadu Buhari released a statement through a spokesperson calling on Joshua's church members and supporters to "take solace in the knowledge that life is not measured and defined by chronological longevity but by enduring legacies and lives touched positively."