A pastor and two of his church officials have been imprisoned at the Ho Central Prison after they were unable to pay a GhC39,600 fine slapped on them by the Kpando Circuit court for breaching the ban on public gathering.
The three who are to serve a-four-year jail term each are Apostle Sampson Agakpe who is also the founder of the Church of Pure Christ in the Volta Region, his Assistant Pastor, Maxwell Dzogoedzikpe and Church Secretary, Samuel Agakpe.
They were arrested on April 12, 2020 at Tongot-Abui near Peki in the South Tongu District of the Volta Region for holding a church service; flouting the ban on public gathering, including religious ones as part of measures to curb the spread of the novel Coronavirus in the country.
The service which involved over 50 people is in breach of Regulation 1 sub-section 1 of EI 65 and section 6 of Act 1012.
The Prosecution, Detective Sergeant, Henry Doku told the Court presided over by His Honour, Nana Brew that the police received information on April 12, 2020 that the Pastor was holding a church service. The Police moved to the Church and found the claim to be true.
They arrested the Pastor, his assistant and the Church secretary while the congregants fled and escaped arrest.
The pastor is reported to have resisted attempts by the prosecutors to exclude the other two Church officials from prosecution on the basis that he (the pastor) alone cannot be held liable for an offence they all committed.
The three pleaded guilty to the charges leveled against them before the Kpando Circuit Court. The Court subsequently fined them GHC13,200 cedis each or in default serve a four-year jail term each.
As at Thursday, April 16, all three had not been able to pay their fine which sums up to GHC39,600 cedis, forcing authorities to send them to the Ho Central Prion to serve the four-year jail term each.
The Imposition of Restriction Law which was enacted recently gives the President, the power to impose restrictions in an emergency situation through Executive Instrument, and also provides a sanction regime, of a fine, jail term or both.
While section 6 of the Act 1012 says “A person who fails to comply with a restriction imposed under the Executive Instrument issued under subsection (1) of section 2 commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of not less than 1000 penalty units and not more than 5000 penalty units or a term of imprisonment of not less than 4 years and not more than 10 years.
A penalty unit is equivalent to Ghc12.00, making the minimum fine in the law, Ghc12,000 and the maximum, Ghc60,000.