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04.04.2006 General News

Minister, others cited for contempt by Anglican Bishop

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Sekondi, April 4, GNA - The Western Regional Minister, Mr. Joseph Boahen Aidoo and two others, including the Regional Police Commander on Tuesday appeared before a Sekondi High Court for contempt. The third accused was Mr Leonard Blay, Western Regional Security Coordinator.

The Right Reverend John K. Otoo, Bishop of the Sekondi Diocese of the Anglican Church, filed the suit against the three, who are top members of the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), for closing down the Cathedral of Saint Andrew the Apostle at Sekondi on March 19 this year. A Sekondi High Court on March 15, granted a seven-day interim injunction to Mr. Joseph Abeka, a Registrar of the Church and Mr. Lord Pearce, Diocesan and Synod Secretary to perform their duties as leaders of the Anglican Church in the Sekondi Diocese.

The injunction was meant to prevent 13 worshippers of the Church from their continued occupation.

The court, presided over by Justice Clemence J. Honyenuga, said the injunction restrains the group from entering the Cathedral, and none of them was to prevent Rt. Rev. John K. Otoo, Anglican Bishop of Sekondi or any Clergyman from exercising their duties or celebrating mass and other religious activities.

The court then ordered that the Bishop and his team should after seven days, serve the group notice to come to court and argue the seven-day interim order to enable the court to give a lasting order. The seven-day injunction expired on March 22.

However, on March 19, REGSEC in a letter signed by Mr. Seth Apawudza, an Assistant Director of the Regional Coordinating Council (RCC), informed the Bishop and other church leaders of the closure of the Cathedral.

The letter stated that intelligence report had indicated that there could be a clash between supporters of Bishop Otoo, who intended to celebrate his maiden mass at the Cathedral and some members of the church who were opposed to the Bishop.

It said to forestall any such clash or any likely disturbance of the peace and stability of the Metropolis, the Cathedral was closed for service on March 19.

Ms. Valerie Amate, Principal State Attorney, Mr. George F.Y. Kpodo, Senior State Attorney and Mr. Samuel P. Akufo, a Senior State Attorney from the regional Attorney General Department (AG's) represented the three REGSEC members while Lawyer J. Amoa- Sakyi represented Bishop Otoo.

The AG's Department has in addition to the affidavit in opposition of the suit, filed another application asking the court presided over by Justice Clemence J. Honyenuga that the matter should be determined in chambers and that the application by Bishop Otoo should be declared null and void.

The case has been adjourned to April 26. Police withdraw from Sekondi Anglican Cathedral Sekondi, April 04, GNA - The Western Regional Police Command has withdrawn its personnel detailed to protect the Saint Andrew the Apostle Anglican Cathedral at Sekondi from any violence. A visit to the Cathedral by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) on Tuesday revealed that the police had been withdrawn.

This was after Mr Kofi Duku Arthur, Western Regional Police Commander, Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister and Mr Leonard Blay, Western Regional Security Coordinator, all members of the Western Regional Security Council (REGSEC) appeared before a Sekondi High Court for contempt.

No explanations were given for the withdrawal and efforts to reach Mr Arthur proved futile.

It would be re-called that on Sunday March 19, more than 70 armed policemen led by Mr R. M. Azu, Deputy Western Regional Police Commander, were detailed to the Cathedral to prevent alleged clashes between the members, opponents and supporters of Right Reverend John K. Otoo, Bishop of the Sekondi Diocese of the Anglican Church and also to protect lives and property.

Mr Azu told journalists that their presence was to maintain peace and order at the Cathedral.

In a related development, a large number of the youth and a few elderly persons who had converged at the Cathedral sang, prayed and danced amidst the waving of handkerchiefs to signify their thanks to God for the withdrawal of the police and re-opening of the Cathedral. Mr Thomas Carr, 84 and a member of the Church said "I feel being liberated from bondage" and expressed appreciation to God.

He said the church members must adopt reconciliation and solve the crisis adding; "I will not like the Cathedral to be closed again." Reverend Dr Jacob Welbourne, Dean of the Cathedral who prayed for those present said mass would be held on Wednesday April 5, while preparations would be made to enable members celebrate Easter festivities and other church services at the Cathedral.