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Lighthouse Chapel suit: Witness Claims Manasseh Awuni, Others Have No Evidence To Support Publications

A witness in the ongoing legal tussle between Lighthouse Chapel International and investigative Journalist, Manasseh Azure Awuni and three others has said the defendants have no evidence to support their defamatory publications against Lighthouse Chapel International and its founder.

The witness, Marcel Aboagye in a cross examination session at the High Court in Accra presided over by Justice Joseph Adu Owusu Agyemang testified that, Manasseh Azure Awuni, the Media Foundation for West Africa, its Director, Sulemana Briamah and Edwin Appiah (Co editor) had failed to present any evidence to the court in support of several defamatory allegations made against the church and its founder in their published article tiled "Darkness in a Lighthouse"

Marcel Aboagye told the court that the defendants falsely published in the articles that, Larry Odonkor, Edward Laryea, Seth Duncan and Faith Fiakojo who are former Pastors were exploited by the church to build worship centres and schools in Wa, Kade, Paga and Fumbisi with their resources after which the church took over those buildings.

He referred to a mail from 2008 that announced the policy and indicated that, the mail said as part of the Policy, Lighthouse Chapel would continue to buy and build church buildings.

He further stated that, defendants’ exhibits provided no evidence to substantiate the allegations that, the facilities depicted in the publications were built with the personal resources of those Pastors.

According to him, Lighthouse Chapel built those structures with its own resources. He further noted that, contrary to claims that, the Wa buildings were put up by Larry Odonkor, one of its former Pastors with his own resources, those structures were constructed by the church long after Larry Odonkor had left the Wa mission.

The witness in his testimony also denied the allegation that Lighthouse Chapel International owed several former Pastors over 42 years of Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions.

While pointing to a SSNIT investigative report dated August 20, 2021, the witness stated that , SSNIT cleared the church of those allegations. According to him, the allegations were false and the defendants presented no evidence that Lighthouse Chapel owed the former Pastors SSNIT contributions.

The witness further stated that, it is also not true that, a former Pastor, Seth Duncan attempted suicide three times due to maltreatment by the church.

He explained that, Lighthouse never maltreated the said Pastor. According to him if the suicide attempts indeed happened they were not connected to the church and there is no evidence presented by the defendants to connect the church to it.

The witness added that the defendants in publishing the articles also maliciously omitted the date of the publication of a Handbook which forms the basis of the claims of the former pastors, since the defendants knew that the date of publication nullifies the claims being made by the former pastors.

He also infomed the court that, the defendants formed an "unholy alliance" with the former Pastors and published those pieces out of malice.

The case has been adjourned to May 13, 2024.