A former Bishop of Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI) has been put before an Accra Circuit Court charged with two counts of stealing.
Bishop Lawrence Nii Narku Odonkor has been accused of allegedly stealing money he took from the church to pay his personal SSNIT contributions and taxes.
Bishop Odonkor, one of the pastors who sued the church in April last year for non-payment of SSNIT contributions of some workers in the church including some pastors among other things, however, pleaded not guilty.
The court presided over by Mrs Ellen Offei Ayeh admitted Bishop Odonkor to bail in the sum of GH₵10,000 with two sureties who are gainfully employed, and must be residents within the Greater Accra Region.
The Court has ordered the prosecution to file their witness’ statements and adjourned the trial to March 9, this year for Case Management Conference. Mr Kofi Bentil, counsel for the accused prayed for bail saying his client was not a flight risk because he was a Bishop of a church and family man.
Mr Bentil said Mr Odonkor has also sued the church and he was expecting to rake in a large sum of money from the suit and would therefore not abscond.
According to defence counsel, the amount of money for which his client had been charged for stealing was insignificant and must be given a self recognisance bail.
Chief Inspector Isaac Anquandah told the court that, the complainant in the case was the LHCI, represented by Bishop Christian Quinston-Addo.
Prosecution said between the months of January 2020 and April 2020, the accused was the head pastor of the Akim Oda branch of the church and for that matter was responsible for the day-to-day administration of the church.
Prosecution said as part of accused’s responsibilities, he was to see to the payment of the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions and the Pay As You Earn (PAYE) tax of himself and all other employees working under him.
According to Prosecution, in March 2020, the accused wrote a cheque of GH₵8,527 dated March 10, 2020 comprising of his February 2020 salary of GH₵5,000 together with his SSNIT Contribution and PAYE taxes of GH₵1,667 and GH₵1,850 respectively for the month of January and February 2020.
Prosecution said the accused deposited the same in his personal account and failed to pay the SSNIT contribution and tax component of the amount drawn to the appropriate authorities.
The prosecution said the accused person again wrote a cheque of GH₵8,527 dated April 22, 2020 comprising of his salary of GH₵5,000 for the month of March 2020 together with his SSNIT Contribution and taxes of GH₵1,667 and GH₵1,850 respectively for the month of March 2020 and April 2020 but failed to pay the SSNIT and tax components on it to their respective institutions.
The prosecution said the total sum of money the accused is alleged to have stolen is GH₵7,054.
He said the accused later turned around and wrote to SSNIT to complain that the church had neglected to pay his SSNIT contributions after his resignation from the church.
The prosecution said the church’s attention was later drawn in September 2020 on the failure of the accused to pay the SSNIT contributions and taxes for the period of January 2020 to April 2020.
Mr Anquandah said the church was made to pay for the SSNIT contribution and taxes for those stated together with its penalties amounting to GH₵10,963.91.
He said a report was made at the Criminal Investigation Department of the Ghana Police Service and accused arrested.
Prosecution said the accused admitted having signed and received the said cheques and paid them into his personal account.