Lighthouse Chapel case: Manasseh, others have no evidence to support publications — Witness tells Court 

  Fri, 12 Apr 2024
Crime & Punishment Lighthouse Chapel case: Manasseh, others have no evidence to support publications — Witness tells Court

A witness has told an Accra High Court that Manasseh Azure Awuni, an investigative journalist, and four others have no evidence to support their publications against Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI) and its founder.

In a defamation suit against Awuni, the Media Foundation for West Africa, its Director, Sulemana Briamah and Edwin Appiah, a co-editor (defendants), a witness of LCI, Mr Marcel Aboagye, testified that the defendants had failed to present any evidence to the court in support of several defamatory allegations made against the LCI in their published articles titled “Darkness in a Lighthouse.”

At the General Jurisdiction Court (a division of the High Court) presided over by Justice Joseph Adu Owusu Agyemang, Mr Aboagye stated that the defendants’ articles claimed that LCI owed several former church pastors over 42 years of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions.

The witness, pointing to the SSNIT Investigative report dated August 20, 2021, stated that SSNIT cleared LCI of those allegations.

According to the witness, the allegations were false, and the defendants presented no evidence that LCI owed former pastors any SSNIT contributions.

During cross-examination, the witness claimed that the defendants falsely published articles claiming that former pastors Larry Odonkor, Edward Laryea, Seth Duncan, and Faith Fiakojo were exploited by the church to build worship centres and schools in Wa, Kade, Paga, and Fumbisi with their resources. The church then illegally took over the buildings.

The witness referred to a mail from 2008 that announced the policy and indicated that as part of the policy, LCI will continue to buy and build church buildings.

The witness testified that the defendants’ exhibits provided no evidence to substantiate the allegations that the facilities depicted in the publications were built with the personal resources of those pastors.

According to the witness, LCI built those structures with its own resources, and in the case of Wa, the buildings referred to in the articles as having been put up by Larry Odonkor with his finances were constructed by the Church long after he had left the Wa Mission.

The witness went on to say that the publications falsely claimed that one of the former pastors, Seth Duncan, had attempted suicide three times due to maltreatment by the church.

The witness said that LCI never mistreated Seth Duncan.

According to the witness, Seth Duncan’s attempt to commit suicide was unconnected to the church.

The witness told the court that the defendants formed an “unholy alliance” with the former pastors and published those pieces out of malice.

The matter has been adjourned to May 13, 2024.