Emmanuel Oko Mensah, a former Bishop of the Lighthouse Chapel International Emmanuel Oko Mensah, a former Bishop of the Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI), has been arraigned at an Accra Circuit for allegedly stealing a Hyundai Elantra salon car valued at $20,000, a property of the Church.
The former Bishop, who appeared before the court, presided over by Ms Evelyn Asamoah, today (Sept 22) pleaded not guilty to the charge and has since been granted bail in the sum of GH₵150,000 with two sureties.
According to the Prosecutor, Chief Inspector Simon Apiosornu, who held the brief for Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Emmanuel Nyamekye, said the former Bishop of the LCI, failed to hand over the official car to the Church after his resignation adding that the car has since been impounded by the police.
OKO MENSAH SUED LCI FOR $15,600 AS COST OF CAR RENTAL FOR 15 MONTHS
Oko- Mensah did not mince words at all in paragraphs 11 and 19 of his statement of claim in his case against the Lighthouse Chapel International. He averred as follows :
Paragraph 11 – “Plaintiff further states that, contrary to the terms of his employment with the Defendant, he was most often, deprived of the basic logistics, required for their work, such as a car, accommodation to facilitate his work and was thus compelled to put in place private measures at significant cost and inconvenience to remedy the situation.”
Paragraph 19 – “Plaintiff states that owing to the failure on the part of the Defendant to provide him with the basic logistics to help him and his family settle comfortably in his places of transfer, he was constrained to rent a car for 2 months while in Benin and for 13 months while in Burkina Faso in excess of about CFA 7,800,000” ( the dollar equivalent of which is Fifteen Thousand US DOLLARS ie $ 15,600 ). That means he spent over $1,000 a month on car rentals.
He prayed the court to order LCI to repay him the $15,600 with interest thereon.
The Lighthouse Chapel responded to these allegations in paragraph 18 of its statement of defence as follows”: “Defendant further avers that plaintiff for the most part of his 16 year employment period with the defendant was provided with cars by the Defendant and actually left Defendant’s employment without retiring the last car he received from the Defendant a Hyundai Elantra Registration No.GN8591-12 with chassis No. KMHDH41CBCU505814 assigned to him in 2012 purchased brand new for about $20,000.00USD.”
LCI says Oko Mensah was assigned a total of 3 cars during his period of employment, the last one being the Hyundai Elantra. The first two cars were Nissan Sentras. He also enjoyed free accommodation for the entire 16 years period of his employment. According to the LCI Oko-Mensah actually drove this same car to Benin and used it there so it is outrageous that he will manufacture a bill for car rental and want the court to order the church to pay same. He never rented a car while in Burkina Faso. LCI was under no obligation to give him a car so any entitlement or claim for refund of car rental bill is completely imaginary.
The LCI went ahead and lodged a complaint against Oko Mensah at the CID Headquarters for fraudulent misappropriation of the said Hyundai Elantra.
Oko Mensah initially defied the invitation by the CID. He, however, appeared before the CID on 23rd June 2021 and after series of rigorous interrogations made a U-Turn and has admitted to having in his possession the said car which was the official vehicle assigned to him by the LCI in 2012. He returned the car on 24th June 2021.
Counsel for Oko Mensah, Kofi Bentil, in his bail application argued that his client was not flight risk and had a fixed place of abode.
He added that his client had his own Church where he ministers to his congregation every Sunday praying the court for a self recognisance bail.
Counsel further told the court that his client had initiated a civil action against the Church adding that his clear would be available to stand trial till the final determination of the matter before the court
“He won’t do anything to jeopardise his freedom,” Counsel told the court
The presiding judge further admitted the accused person to bail to re-appear before the court on October 12 this year.
C/Insp Apiosornu said the complainant, Rebecca Ediah Addae, is the LCI Director of Human Resource. The prosecutor said on June 13, this year the complainant petitioned the Director-General of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Ghana Police Service against the accused, saying he (accused) had stolen a Hyundai Elantra saloon car valued GHS80, 000.
He said according to the Petitioner, the accused was an ex-employee of LCI who was officially given the said car for his official duties.
C/Insp Apiosornu said the former pastor decided to resign from the Church in October 2019 but he failed to hand over his official car allotted to him. According to the Prosecutor, on June 23, this year, accused was arrested for interrogation and he admitted having in his possession the said vehicle.
He said accused claimed the church authorities had not demanded from him the said vehicle. He added that the accused also claimed that it had been the practice in LCI that claims of his kind were paid before official vehicles were returned.
LCI denies having such a policy that all employees who resign automatically go home with their official cars. When the Police demanded the vehicle, the accused brought same to the Police and was impounded.
The case was adjourned to 12 October 2021.
CONTRADICTIONS IN OKO MENSAH’S NARRATIVES
Oko Mensah in one breath in his suit says LCI never gave him a car to use. And claims he used $15,600 to rent cars over a 15 month period. It means he was spending over USD 1,000 On car rental.
In another breath, he is telling the police that the same LCI is so magnanimous that any employee who resigns and has an official car assigned to him goes home with his car and that is why he did not return his official car.
So is he saying he was assigned an official car or not? If he was assigned a car why has he sued the church for not providing him with a car and for recovery of car rental bills? LCI even says the church was not even obliged to provide him with a vehicle.
We saw a Facebook post on Oko Mensah’s wall dated 23rd September 2021 in which he said his salary at the time of his resignation ie October 2019 was GHC5,000 and that the church deducted tithes so he received only GHC 4,500.
The dollar to cedi rate as of October 2019 when he resigned was about GHC 5.36. It means that according to him he was earning about US$ 840 a month.
So for a person who was earning USD$840 a month how come he spent over US$1,000 on car rental? How could he have afforded such a huge bill as car rental? All these contradictions cast doubt on the credibility of Oko Mensah’s testimonies.