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01.06.2004 Regional News

Appeals Court resolves leadership dispute within the Saviour Church

By GNA

Accra, June 1, GNA - The Court of Appeal in Accra has resolved a long standing leadership dispute between two factions of the Saviour Church of Ghana: One based at Mankrong Junction in the Central Region and the other at Osiem in the Eastern Region.

While the appellate court affirmed the decision of the trial court to endorse Opanyin Abraham Kwaku Edusei as the General Superintendent of the Church with its headquarters at Osiem, it also held that Elias Kofi Asante remained the Spiritual Head of the Mankrong Junction church. The court, however, dismissed the appeal by the Mankrong Junction faction against the judgement of the trial court, but endorsed its refusal to make an order for the Osiem faction to take over church and private property located on the Mankrong, Junction compound of the church.

Such an order, the court ruled would violate the members' freedom to worship and to own property as enshrined in the country's Constitution.

"Every person has the right to own property either alone or in association with others" the appellate court held, noting that the freedom of worship guaranteed the appellants under Article 21 of the Constitution did not whittle that right away.

The conflict started in 1998, after the death of Opanyin Isaac Kojo Esilfie, Founder and General Superintendent of the Church. Contrary to expectation that Elias Kofi Asante, son of the late Mr. Esilfie was to become the leader of the church based on its spiritual doctrine after his father's death, Opanyin Edusei was elected and installed by the registered trustees as the new head sparking off the conflict, which eventually resulted in a split

Following the judgement in the lower court, the Osiem faction of the church made attempts to restrain the members of the Mankrong Junction faction from worshiping in their church and having access to their personal property located on the church compound.

The appellate court composed of Mr Justice J. A. Twumasi, Mr Justice J.A. Ansah and J. A. Owusu Ansah endorsed the trial court's decision that the members of the Mankrong Junction faction "had acquired interests on the properties of the church and that they were free to retain, possess and enjoy them." 01 June 04

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