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Lighthouse Chapel Case: 6 Ex-Pastors Demand $12 Million Settlement

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Lighthouse Chapel Case: 6 Ex-Pastors Demand $12 Million Settlement

Details are emerging as to how the six former pastors of Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI) allegedly demanded a whopping $12 Million as settlement from the church.

The Ex-Pastors are Bishop Larry Odonkor, Bishop Oko Mensah, Rev. Edward Laryea, Pastor Seth Duncan, Pastor Edem Amankwah and Pastor Faith Makafui Fiakojo.

$12 Million Bombshell

On 3rd August 2021 which was the last adjourned date of the trial, the presiding Judge Justice Frank Aboagye Rockson repeated an earlier suggestion he had made to the parties to settle the matter amicably.

Counsel for LCI, Rodney Heward-Mills dropped the bombshell which left the court in shock. He revealed that some Eminent Clergymen had earlier approached both parties to settle the matter out of court and that during the settlement talks the ex-pastors demanded a whopping sum of US$ 12 Million as settlement from the church and took an entrenched position on their demand. He continued that the Senior Clergymen found the demand so outrageous that they abandoned any hope of settling the matter.

 

Counsel for the Ex-Pastors, Kofi Bentil initially stood up to deny that his clients made such a demand but later added that even if they did demand the US$ 12 Million it did not matter.

Reliefs Sought By the plaintiffs

The palintiffs are seeking the following reliefs against the church:

a. An order compelling LCI to pay their unpaid SSNIT contributions.

b. An order to compute and pay balance of salary due them.

c.Compensation to cover some investments plaintiffs made in schools and churches of the LCI and for rental of cars while in the service of LCI and for monies they spent on accommodation while in the employment of LCI.

d.General damages for breach of contract and the pain, unfair termination of contract and suffering caused as a result of bad treatment of Plaintiffs during the period of their employment and loss of income by their spouses during transfers.

LCI has vehemently denied all the allegations and mounted their defence to the suit.

Lay System Operated by LCI

According to the LCI, it operates a very extensive lay system. By this system, the church has thousands of volunteers who help the church work while they maintain their secular engagements either as workers or students. The lay system has been in operation since the church was founded in 1988 and has continued till date. Over 86% of LCI pastors are volunteer pastors.

The church’s policy and practice which are well known to the volunteers is that the church owes no financial obligation to volunteers by way of payment of salaries or social security contributions or taxes or any form of emolument.

Missionary Acceptance  Form

Volunteer pastors who are going on missions willingly sign a Missionary Consent form with their parent/Guardian who also consent in writing to the decision by the volunteer to do missionary work. A portion of the form reads, “ l,……….(NAME)… freely and willingly volunteer for Missionary work with the Lighthouse Missionary Society . I fully understand that based on my acceptance I am ready and willing to migrate and settle in a different country with or without my family as my choice may be. I also fully comprehend that I must find a job and become financially self sustaining.”

LCI-Ghana is Separate and Independent

LCI-Ghana is a legally, financially, administratively and governmentally independent organization from other LCI churches outside the borders of Ghana and only shares a spiritual relationship with the others. LCI churches worldwide share a common vision of propagating the gospel worldwide and training leaders and pastors to take the gospel to the four corners of the world.

This further means that a pastor who leaves the country to a different country is considered not to be in employment of LCI Ghana. By this, that pastor if employed by the church is paid by the LCI of the country he moves to and not LCI Ghana.

Bishop Larry Odonkor

Bishop Larry claims he was employed by LCI-Ghana from 2001 to 2020. LCI-Ghana denies this and says the church employed him from July 2005 to June 2010 and then employed him again from January till April 2020 when he resigned without due notice to the church.

According to LCI-Ghana the church paid his SSNIT contributions in full during this period.

LCI says that Bishop Larry Odonkor was a volunteer pastor from 2001 to 2005 and he signed the missionary acceptance form with the written consent of his mother on 21st August 2001.
From September 2010 to May 2018, Bishop Odonkor was employed by LCI South Africa. Again from June 2018 to December 2019 he was employed by LCI Madagascar. All his salaries and allowances were paid by LCI-South Africa and LCI-Madagascar during this period.

Bishop Emmanuel Oko Mensah

The Church in its defence argued that that it had paid in full, all SSNIT contributions owed Bishop Oko Mensah for his 16 years as an employee of the Church contrary to his claim that the church owed him over 14 years of unpaid SSNIT contributions.

Again, the church argued that it provided free accommodation for the Bishop Mensah throughout the 16 years of employment contrary to his claim that he was most often deprived of the basic logistics, required for their work, such as a car and accommodation to facilitate his work.

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LCI further indicated that for most part his employment period LCI without obligation gave Bishop Oko Mensah official cars to use and this includes a Hyundai Elantra with registration number GN8591-12 and that Bishop Oko Mensah refused to return the Hyundai Elantra when he resigned and that this vehicle is the subject matter of a counter claim and criminal action by LCI.

One of the most mind-boggling averments in Bishop Oko’s statement of claim is in paragraph 21 in which he avers that, “his frequent and abrupt transfers led to the loss of employment by his spouse because of the policy of the Defendant church that he was to relocate to his new places of transfer with his spouse, and this was the case because Plaintiff’s spouse could not speak the French Language”.

LCI responded that the only wife of plaintiff known to LCI is Emmanuella Mensah and she refused to move to either Benin or Burkina Faso with him or join him there. She remained in Ghana and continued in her employment with SSNIT throughout the time the Plaintiff was in Benin and Burkina Faso.

It is therefore a palpable lie for Oko Mensah to say his wife followed him to Burkina Faso and Benin and therefore lost her job; unless Oko Mensah is talking about another wife he had that went with him on the mission.

In that case LCI says it owes him no liability in respect of her since he did not disclose that woman to LCI.

Rev. Edward Laryea

The LCI said contrary to the claim that the Plaintiff worked for the Church and the church failed to pay his SSNIT contributions from 2005 to July 2008, it paid SSNIT contributions from August 2008 when he was employed to March 2017 since between the periods of 2005 to July 2008, he(Mr Laryea) was a volunteer pastor and he signed the missionary acceptance form in July 2005 with the consent of his guardian.

Ps Edem Kofi Amankwah

Pastor Edem Kofi Amankwah was a Volunteer Pastor from October 2007 to 2018 when he resigned. He never became an employee of LCI-Ghana. He also with the written consent of his biological father, Mr Christopher Yaw Amankwah signed the Missionary Consent form on 13th October 2007.

Ps. Seth Duncan

He was a volunteer pastor from 2008 to 2018 till he resigned without due notice in 2018. He was never an employee of LCI. He also with the written consent of his biological father called Joseph Anti Duncan signed the Missionary Consent form on 21st November 2008. While pastoring in Paga and Tamale he was running a school in Paga to earn a living.

Ps Faith Makafui Fiakojo

Pastor Faith Fiakojo, was a Lay (Volunteer) Pastor in Fumbisi in the Upper East Region under LCI Ghana from November 2013 to December 2019 when he resigned without notice.  He was not an employee according to the Church’s records.

He also with the written consent of his biological father, Mr Prosper Fiakojo signed the Missionary Consent form on 11th November 2013.

Allegations by Pastors Fiakojo, Duncan and Rev Edward, that they used their own monies to build LCI churches was vehemently denied by the LCI which contended that it built those churches without their direct or indirect financial involvement.

Counterclaims by LCI Against the Plaintiffs

LCI has counterclaimed against the former pastors as follows:

1. Against all 6 Plaintiffs for damages for defamation for publishing 3 Articles against the LCI each titled “Darkness In A Lighthouse”

Against Bishop Larry OdonkorAgainst Bishop Larry Odonkor:

That he stole monies he should have used to pay his own SSNIT contributions and taxes. That LCI upon discovering this after he resigned paid the SSNIT contribution and taxes with penalties thereon. LCI is counterclaiming for the stolen monies and has also reported the matter to the police for investigations. Bishop Larry is to report to the CID headquarters for interrogations on Friday 20th August 2021

LCI further claims that while Bishop Larry was in Madagascar he illegally sold a Toyota Land Cruiser which was an official vehicle belonging to LCI-Madagascar. And that LCI Madagascar has given LCI-Ghana a power of attorney to recover the proceeds of the sale from him.

LCI Madagascar has also reported him to the police in Madagascar and we are reliably informed that Madagacar police is advanced in it’s investiagtions.

3.  Against Bishop Oko Mensah.

For recovery of possession of the official vehicle ie Hyundai Elantra he refused to return to LCI-Ghana upon his resignation. LCI says it has reported the matter to the CID for investigations and he was compelled to return the car to the CID headquarters. Bishop Oko was on Monday 16th August 2021 charged with stealing the car and will soon be arraigned before court to be prosecuted.

LCI-Burkina Faso claims while he was heading the LCI-Burkina Faso between 2018 and 2019 he misappropriated to himself the sum of $57,403.21. And that LCI – Burkina has given LCI-Ghana a power of attorney to recover sum from him.

4.   Against Faith Makafui Fiakojo. LCI claims he illegally took over the LCI church   building in Fumbisi after he resigned and the church has sued for recovery of possession.

5.   Against Edem Amankwah. LCI Claims he resigned without making full account of books he took from the church to sell for a commission. He has refused to return either the books or the money. LCI is claiming a sum of GHC 36,820.00 from him.

Source: The Ghanaian Publisher

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CODA Hands Over Two Projects At Breman Essiam in Ajumako Enyan Essiam District 

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CODA Hands Over Two Projects At Breman Essiam in Ajumako Enyan Essiam District

The Coastal Development Authority (CODA) has handed over a Lorry Park and a modern Community Library to the chiefs and people of Breman Essiam in the Ajumako-Enyan-Essiam District.

Community Library at Breman Essiam

Community Library at Breman Essiam

The ceremony was graced by traditional leaders led by the paramount Queen mother of Breman Essiam, Nana Efua Esiwa II, the DCE of Ajumako Enyan Essiam, Hon. Ransford Kwesi Nyarko and the DCD, Mr. Abdul Mohammed K. Also in attendance was the Assembly Member of the area, Hon. Ibrahim Issakah, Staff of the AEEDA, Representatives of GPRTU and the general public.

The DCE recounted the deplorable state of the Lorry Park and the Library in the past and commended the efforts made by the Omanhene of the Breman Essiam Traditional Area, Odefour Afankwa III in getting these projects.
Hon. Ransford Nyarko, stated that the projects are a dream come true for the community and the District at large.

The CEO of CODA Jerry Ahmed Shaib ESQ expressed the delight of CODA for the achievement. He was glad that the projects were not imposed by the Authority but rather ones that met the needs and aspirations of the people based on proper consultation with all stakeholders.

He again revealed that the projects being handed over and many others ongoing in the District run under the Infrastructure for Poverty Eradication Programme (IPEP). He commended President Akufo-Addo for fulfilling his “one million dollars per constituency” promise to the people of Ghana especially, rural folks. The CODA boss also took the opportunity to outline other projects which were being executed within District.

The gathering was assured of ongoing collaborations with institutions like the Ghana Library Authority to stock the Library as well as GIFEC to provide ICT equipment for the E-Learning wing of the Library.

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General News

GACA, 2021 Rewards Arts And Culture Industry Excellence 

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GACA, 2021 Rewards Arts And Culture Industry Excellence

The 2021 Ghana Arts and Culture Awards came off on Saturday 20 November 2021 at the Alisa Hotel, North Ridge in Accra. The Ghana Arts and Culture Awards seeks to reward individuals and brands excelling within the Arts and Culture industry in Ghana. The event was in partnership with the National Commission on Culture, Ghana Tourism Authority, National Folklore Board and Tourism Society of Ghana under the auspices of Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture. The event was also sponsored by Alisa Hotel, Planet drink, Verna Mineral Water, Ceejay Multimedia, Ankobra Beach Resort, Virtual Hub, Beyond the Return and the Ghana Tourism Authority.
In all, there were 24 categories for various awards on the night.


Check the full list of winners below;
1. Lifetime Achievement Award – Osibisa Band
2. Honorary Award – Amandzeba Nat Brew
3. Honorary Award – Alisa Hotel
4. Honorary Award – Bob Pixel
5. Outstanding Cultural Personality – Nana Krobea Asante Kwahu Mpraeso Adontehene
6. Corporate Support for Arts and Culture – Ghana Tourism Authority
7. Cultural Heritage Entrepreneur – Theophilus Agyekum Sarpong ( Getbusy Art Konsult)
8. Ghanaian Artiste – Ssue
9. Indigenous Caterer – Dimensa
10. Arts and Culture Media (Radio) – Angel fm
11. Arts and Culture Media (Television) – Kantanka Tv
12. Arts and culture media (blog) – Voyageafriq
13. Arts and Culture Media ( Photography) – Dromotion Pictures
14. Arts Festival Event – Black Arts Street Festival
15. Ghanaian Fashion Designer – Eugene d’ Wise
16. Discovery of the Year – Patti Blueh Art
17. Traditional Dance Group – African Music and Dance Foundation
18. Traditional Music Group – Ananse Band
19. Cultural Television Program – Efiri tete (Garden City Tv)
20. Cultural Radio Program – Odomankoma (Opemsuo fm)
21. Spoken Word Artist – Fapempong Acheampong
22. Ghanaian Visual Artist (Sculpture/Ceramic) – Kumi Samuel
23. Ghanaian Visual Artist (Drawing) – Rosebird Ama Dadzie
24. Ghanaian Visual Artist (Painting / Graffiti) – James Mishio

The night also witnessed energizing cultural dance and music performances from Fapempong Acheampong, Akuma Dance Ensemble, Miishe Band and African Dance and Music Foundation. The High Commissioner of South Africa (Her Excellency Grace Mason), Mr. Kifalu S. Masha General Manager of Alisa Hotel, Prophetess Mercy Coffie Chief Servant of Mesukkah Organization Ministry International and CEO of Aunty Aku systems, Mr. Kofi Atta Kakra Kusi Deputy Corporate Affairs Director of the Ghana Tourism Authority ,Mr. Bessa Simons Ag. President MUSIGA, Mrs. Brandina Djaba Wear Ghana Ambassador, Mrs. Alisa Osei Asamoah President of Tour Operators Union of Ghana, Mr. Eric Bannerman CEO of Goldstar Air, Mrs. Delphine Brew Hammond CEO of Miss Tourism Ghana, Mr. Isaac Larmie CEO of Miss Culture Ghana, Mr. Joel F. K Abakah General Manager Ankobra Beach Resort, Mr. Benjamin Oduro Arhin Jnr Asst. Lecturer of School of Creative Arts University of Education Winneba, Gregg Kofi of Osibisa band, Amandzeba Nat Brew, Mr. Peter Akai Anum Executive Director The Head of State Award Scheme and past winners of Miss Tourism Ghana were present at the award ceremony.

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African Court engages Law School of Tanzania students

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African Court engages Law School of Tanzania students

The African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights has rolled-out a comprehensive programme to engage Law Schools and universities to clarify to the next generation of lawyers of the purpose and objective of the African Court.

It also seeks to use the engagement with up and coming lawyers to understand the operations and powers of the African Continental Court.

In view of the broader scope to school especially law students on its tenets, the African Court has set up Law Schools and Research Centres which will serve as focal point for universities.

Dr. Micha Wiebusch, a Senior Legal Officer at African Court speaking at workshop for law students at Law School of Tanzania said that African Court does not sit as appellate body against national courts.

Instead, it evaluates facts that usually take place in the national context, but it evaluates them in relation to international human rights standards; also, it does not have criminal jurisdiction, or at least, not yet.

“So, we do not establish individual criminal responsibility in relation to international crimes, such as genocide, aggression or war crimes.

“You would be surprised how often people confuse our mandate with that of the International Criminal Court in The Hague or the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which also had its headquarters in Arusha and still has some residual mechanism there,” he said.

Dr Wiebusch explained that the engagement with universities also provided an opportunity to share insights with scholars on the functioning of the African Court and thereby subjected itself to “fair” and “constructive” criticism, voiced in scientific publications.

“The African Court does take notice of scholarly articles and books that concern it, and it does happen that we change our working methods as a result from an academic study and the evidence-based recommendations contained in them. “This is just to say, that academic writing on the African Court can and has had an impact on the way it operates”.

Dr Wiebusch said the African Court considers law schools and more specifically law students to be particularly important stakeholders because “you are the future of the legal profession.

“In some few years’ time, you will be able to qualify as a registered lawyer on the roster of legal counsel of the African Court and you may be invited by the Court to represent clients before it through its legal aid scheme.

“But even before then, you may be working in law firms or in the ministry of justice, and to strengthen your legal arguments before national courts you may be referring to the case law of the African Court on key issues such as fair trial rights, both in criminal and civil proceedings, or to our case law dealing with electoral matters, or on equality issues.

“Alternatively, it is possible that you may even have a case that you litigate directly before the African Court and will need to be familiar with the procedures of litigation before the African Court.

GNA

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