A former head pastor of the Akim Oda Branch of Lighthouse Chapel International is in the grips of the law for allegedly stealing monies belonging to the church.
The accused, Lawrence Nii Narku Odonkor aka Larry is said to have misappropriated the said monies between January and April 2020.
Larry Odonkor, as part of his responsibilities was to see to the payments of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions and the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) of himself and the other employees under him but failed to do so.
He was charged with 2 counts of stealing GHC 3,527 in March 2020 and stealing another sum of GHC 3,527 April 2020; being monies belonging to the Lighthouse Chapel International which accused should have used for the payment of his own SSNIT contributions and taxes on behalf of the church as part of his duties. The total sum is GHC 7,054.
The accused pleaded not guilty to the charge of stealing.
Presenting the facts of the case to the court, on Thursday 10th February 2022 ,in Circuit Court 7 presided over by Justice Ellen Offei ,Chief Inspector Isaac Anquadah said the accused person in March 2020, wrote a cheque of GH¢8,527 dated 10 March 2020 comprising his February 2020 salary of GH¢5,000 together with his SSNIT contributions and PAYE taxes of GH¢1,667 and GH¢1,850 respectively for the months of January 2020 and February 2020.
He however deposited all the money into his personal account but failed to pay the SSNIT contributions and the tax components of the amount withdrawn to the appropriate authorities.
The police also said in April that same year, the accused wrote a cheque of GH¢8,527 dated April 22, 2020 comprising his salary GH¢5,000 for the month of March 2020 together with SSNIT contributions and taxes of GH¢1, 6670 and GH¢1,850 respectfully for the months of March and April 2020 but failed to pay the social security and tax component on it to their respective institutions and made use of same.
As a result, the church’s attention was drawn to this in September 2020 on the failure on the part of the accused to pay the SSNIT contributions and taxes for the period of January 2020 and April 2020 resulting in the church, paying the SSNIT contributions and taxes for the stated months together with its penalties.
Larry upon his arrest admitted having signed and received the aforementioned cheques and paid them into his personal account.
Counsel for the accused, Kofi Bentil, in his application for self-recognizance bail said that the church underpaid his client for the period January to April 2020 and the accused had been posted outside the country by the church for 10 years and had just returned in January 2020.
The judge stepped in and asked Kofi Bentil whether he was making a bail application or going into other matters.
Counsel then said the accused is a Bishop of a church and a family man and is therefore not a flight risk.
He also said his client had sued the church and expecting to rake in large sums of monies from the suit so he will not run away from the jurisdiction because of this criminal case.
He further mentioned the sum of money for which accused was being prosecuted was not large so he should be given self-recognizance bail.
The judge granted the accused bail in sum of GHC 10,000 with 2 sureties who are gainfully employed and live in the Greater Accra Region.
The case has been adjourned to 9th March 2022 for case management.