The Supreme Court has exposed the fraudulent activities of the former Head Pastor of the Calvary Charismatic Church (CCC) in Kumasi, Reverend Ransford Obeng, and four others including Joseph Opoku, C. K. Acolatse, R. K. Owusu and one C. O. Kpodo, for attempting to defraud the Assemblies of God Church, Ghana, of its right of ownership.
A ruling dated February 3, 2010, under the hands of Justices Dr. Date-Bah, Adinyira, Owusu, Dotse and Anin Yeboah, all of the Supreme Court, said the circumstance under which Rev. Ransford Obeng purported to have changed the registration documents in respect of a plot of land situated at No 12. Atimpongya, upon which the church building complex has been sited, from the Calvary Charismatic Centre into Calvary Charismatic Ministry (CCM) smacks of fraud.
According to the court, the CCM was not in existence at the time the land was purchased in 1990, and that for Rev. Ransford Obeng to change the purchase date from 1990, when there was no division, to 1992, smells of fraud.
The learned judges further noted, “it will be manifestly unjust to allow them to enrich themselves by their own fraud.”
The court's ruling emanated from an appeal brought before it against the Assemblies of God Church, to overturn the ruling of the Court of Appeal on the same case.
The Assemblies of God Church sued Rev. Obeng and the CCM upon the receipt of letter from them dated November 16, 1992, in their capacity as Board of the CCC, where they informed the Assemblies of God Church of their decision to cease affiliation with them, with effect from November 19, 1992.
This compelled the Assemblies of God Church to file a suit at the High Court to make claims for its properties, since the defendants were making desperate moves to take over both movable and immovable properties of the church, including the church building itself.
The Assemblies of God Church won the case, but the defendants appealed against the ruling at the Court of Appeal, and still lost. They then proceeded to the Supreme Court for it to overturn the ruling of the Court of Appeal.
The Supreme Court therefore sought to determine whether CCC was a local branch of the Assemblies of God upon its establishment in 1985, or became an affiliate only in 1990, when it acquired the 'set in order' status.
It also wanted to ascertain whether the decision of the CCC Board to cease affiliation with the Assemblies of God in November 1992, amounted to a division or secession from the church, whilst probing to determine whether the plaintiff lacked the capacity to have instituted the suit against the defendants.
“Our own indepth analysis and study of all the evidence on record, coupled with the exhibits and the judgments of the trial and the appellate courts, is that, what happened in the Calvary Charismatic Centre was that the defendants used their position in the Calvary Charismatic Centre (CCC) at the material time, hijacked the Calvary Charismatic Centre, declared their cessation agenda, in order to satisfy their own spiritual and material advantages,” the ruling stated.
From the scenario given in the record of appeal, the court said it was clear that the word division and cessation could be used interchangeably, since they meant one and the same thing.
As far as the court was concerned, the findings of the trial judge on this issue, and concurred by the Court of Appeal, were sound both on facts, and the law and found no reason to set it aside, making emphasis on the fact that “a party against whom two concurring findings have been made, first the trial Court and the appellate Court, must be slow to bring appeal to the second appellate court, such as this Supreme Court.”
The Supreme Court indicated that there must be cogent, strong legal grounds of appeal that must be filed and argued to convince the second appellate court to reverse the findings of fact.
The court also noted that it found no such compelling reason to disturb the findings of fact so ably formed by the trial court, and concurred by the appellant court. “We endorse the finding that what happened in the CCC was a division, and in context of this case, cessation and division mean the same thing.”
The court therefore upheld the judgment of the High Court dated December 11, 2001, as was varied per the majority judgment of the Court of Appeal, per Justices Lartey and Tweneboa Kodua, dated April 22, 2005 in entirety, and accordingly dismissed the appeal.