Setback for Lighthouse Chapel as court strikes out 41 of 64-page defence against ex-bishop

Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI) has suffered a setback in its quest to defend itself against a petition by one of its six former Pastors, Larry Odonkor as the Labour Court in Accra struck out 41 pages of a 64-page document submitted by the church’s lawyer.

Setback for Lighthouse Chapel as court strikes out 41 of 64-page defence against ex-bishop

Rodney Heward-Mills is defending the church in the petition which bothers on alleged non-payment of SSNIT contributions on behalf of the said six former pastors who claimed to have become miserable as a result of what they referred to as exploitation and emotional abuse.

Before Judge Frank Aboadwe Rockson’s judgement on the defence filed by LCI, there had been oral arguments between the plaintiffs’ lawyer Kofi Bentil and the defence lawyer about the admissibility of the 64-page document.

It would be recalled that in May this year, lawyer for the Church, Rodney Heward-Mills requested more time to file his defence after the 14-day period to respond to writs served them, elapsed by over a month.

The court charitably granted him 14 extra days to file the defence and then awarded a fine of GHC1,000 against the Church.

According to Myjoyonline.com, while presenting his 64-paged defence to the Court, Rodney Heward-Mills countersued the six former members of the Church’s clergy for defamation.

The news website reported that the defendant also attached 36-pages of articles written by The Fourth Estate and five pages of social media posts made by Larry Odonkor to back his claims that the suit was a deliberate attempt by the former employees to bring the name of the Church into disrepute.

However, Kofi Bentil, the lawyer for plaintiffs objected to the bulky document, describing it as “an abuse of the processes of the court.”

Among other things, he alluded to a High Court Civil Procedure Rules, which states that not more than three pages are allowed when attaching particulars to a pleading.

The judge, Justice Frank Aboadwe Rockson agreed with Mr. Bentil and rejected parts of the 64-paged document.

Explaining his decision, the judge said that Order 11, rule 17 of the Constitutional Instrument (CI) 47, states that “pleadings shall be a summary form of the material facts of a party’s case”.

A cost of GHC3,000 was awarded against the Lighthouse Chapel International.

Background

Six ex-pastors of Lighthouse International have dragged the Church to court for failing to pay their Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions in full while that of others, were not paid at all.

They are; Larry Odonkor, Emmanuel Oko Mensah, Edem Kofi Amankwa, Seth Sarpong Duncan, Edward Laryea, and Faith Fiakojo.

Together, these six ministers of God laboured for a cumulative 42 years and five months, without their pension contributions being paid. The National Pensions Act 2008, (Act 766) requires employers to pay on behalf of their employees, monthly contributions to the SSNIT pension scheme.

Most of them, who served as student-leaders in the gospel, say they were not given employment letters. There was also no formal employer-employee relationship when they transitioned into full-time service of the Lord after graduation.

The six have since resigned from the Church for various reasons and dragged the Lighthouse Chapel International, which used to be the epicentre of their spiritual and social lives, to court.

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