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02.03.2006 General News

Akaboha's removal as Spiritual Head is lawful

By GNA

Agona Swedru (C/R), March 2, GNA - The Swedru High Court on Thursday ruled that the decision of the Executive Council of Musama Disco Christo Church (MDCC) to remove Prophet Miritaiah Jonah Jehu-Appiah as the Spiritual Head (Akaboha) of the Church was lawful and constitutional.

The Court, presided over by Mr Justice Senyo Dzemafa, therefore ordered that henceforth the Former Akaboha Jehu-Appiah could not hold himself out as the Head Prophet of MDCC.

It, however, stated that it was for the Church itself to decide whether or not the Former Akaboha should continue to stay at the official residence of the Church.

In the interest of peace, harmony and unity of members of the Church, the Court awarded only five million cedis cost against the Former Akaboha.

Sometime in the year 2002, the Executive Council of MDCC removed Prophet Jehu-Appiah as the Spiritual Head of the Church alleging sexual misconduct.

He was alleged to have raped a 17-year old Junior Secondary School girl.

The Former Akaboha challenged the Council's decision, saying that it was inconsistent with the Constitution of the Church. He claimed that he could not be removed as Head of the Church since its Constitution explicitly stated that the position of the Akaboha was for life.

Due to the legal issues involved in the decision of the Council, two members of its members, the Reverend Jeresim Offa Jehu-Appiah, Church Father, and the Reverend James Kinakosa Addae, Senior Superintendent, instituted a civil action at the Swedru High Court seeking its declaration as to whether or not as a result of his sexual misconduct, the removal of the Former Akaboha as Spiritual Head by the Executive Council was lawful and constitutional.

The case dragged on at the Court for more than three years, during which Counsel on both sides came out with their legal submissions. Mr Adumoah Bossman represented the two Executive Officers of the Church, while Mr Asempa Frimpong-Manso defended the Former Akaboha. In his submissions, Mr Bossman averred that the Executive Council of the Church was clothed with constitutional powers to take disciplinary action against any member for any wrongdoing.

Counsel submitted that since by his sexual misconduct, the Former Akaboha was bringing the image of the Church into disrepute, the Council's punitive action against him was aimed at not only clearing its name, but was also meant to salvage its sinking image.

Mr Bossman argued that the Council gave the Former Akaboha the chance to put up a defence when on February 14, 2003, it was announced by the Council that he had been removed from office, but he only told a Committee of Enquiry that he reserved his comments on the issue.

In his submissions, Mr Frimpong-Manso, Counsel for the Former Akaboha argued that when the resolution was passed by the Executive Council that the Spiritual Head had been removed from office, he was not given any chance to defend charges preferred against him. Counsel submitted that since the Church's Constitution "does not make any provision for the removal of an Akaboha, he holds office for life and can, therefore, not be removed".

Mr Frimpong-Manso averred that according to the Constitution of the Church, only ordinary members could be removed for misconduct. He argued that no resolution withdrew the recognition of the Former Akaboha as the Spiritual Head of the Church as claimed by Counsel on the other side.

He stated further that if any resolution was passed at all, its contents were not read to the hearing of the Former Akaboha. Counsel was, therefore, of the view that the Council members had no constitutional mandate of the Church to bring any action against the Former Akaboha.

After listening to submissions from both sides, the Court came to the conclusion that nobody "holds office for life". The Court stated that since the Constitution of the Church made the action of the Former Akaboha an immoral one, it was not surprising that it arrived at the final decision that his removal as Spiritual Head by other members was lawful and constitutional.

After the Court's verdict, members of the Church, who supported the Executive Council, went into wild jubilation while the supporters of the Former Akaboha were crestfallen.

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