Says Traumatized Kumasi Pastor
The Associate Pastor of the Kumasi-based House of Bethel Church, has accused the Ashanti Regional Minister, who stormed the church auditorium with heavily armed policemen and ordered his arrest, of acting under the influence of alcohol.
He maintains, Simon Osei-Mensah, looked very drunk and uncontrollable to the shock of worshippers, many who were present to partake in the church’s monthly watch night service last Friday into Saturday dawn.
Even pleas from his desperate wife, who followed him and kept pleading with him to desist from his Rambo style acts, were ignored by him.
Apart from the microphone, he had ordered the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) to disconnect the area – Anwomaso-High Tension, from the National Grid.
“While conducting the service, at about 12:30am, the minister unexpectedly appeared. We knew him from his days as MP and even when we organized our harvest, he came to assist us.
When he entered he looked very drunk, his eyes were red, had white shirt and shorts. After he demanded to see the head pastor, I agreed to take him there, but in the process hit the microphone that was being used at the time unto the floor and questioned if that was how to worship. His action was indeed, very embarrassing”, Pastor Joseph Appiah, said.
The man of God, who appears to be in a state of shock, questioned the moral grounds on which the Minister stood, since he is known to have similar public address system he hires for events like weddings, funerals and other social event.
Speaking to The Herald after the church’s ordeal with the former Member of Parliament (MP), Pastor Kofi Appiah, said the minister cannot behave as though he was allergic to noise-making because, until his appointment as the regional minister, he had loud-speakers he operated in the neighbourhood.
According to him, Mr. Osei-Mensah, after he painfully lost the New Patriotic Party (NPP) parliamentary primary, purchased the said machines and began renting them out for income, and it became daily ritual for Mr. Osei-Mensah to play loud music to attract customers.
“That man; the minister who is claiming we were making noise, he has spinning machines which he hires for funerals and weddings. He has a container he had those instruments inside in front of his house where he played the machines to attract or advertised to clients”, he said.
The pastor continued, “he had purchased them to do that business so when he plays it, it wasn’t a joke. He made a lot of noise but after he was appointed a minister, he suspended it operation. When he started operating, our instrument came nowhere near his; his were very loud indeed”.
Pastor Kofi Appiah, said it was shocking how the minister went about the entire episode, because they could have done something about the noise, if the Regional Minister, had even sent someone to caution them.
Last Saturday, the Ashanti Regional Minister made headlines when he stormed the church auditorium to stop worshipers, accusing them of making noise as at 12:30 am, making him unable to sleep.
He was reported to have gone in a white shirt and a pair of shorts very angry, smelling and looking very drunk.
It was the first time they saw him in that mood and so some went to the extent of enquiring if the minister was “mad” as his behavior was unusual considering the fact that they knew him to the point of even paying them a visit during one of their harvest programmes.
On his way to the church to “show them where power lies”, the minister was followed by his wife, who pleaded with him to calm down, but he reportedly shoved her aside many times to deal with the church and it leaders.
The head pastor, Rev. Kwame Takyi, who is said to be a very quiet and calm man of God, is since traumatized and has remained home since Saturday, after they were granted bail. He is unable to pick calls or speak to the media about the incident.
The Minister did not only cause the arrest of the pastor and seized their instruments, but out of anger, reportedly instructed the ECG, to put off the light in the Anwomaso area to disable the church from powering their “noisy” machines.
However, the deliberate light out did not affect the church, because they were on a separate ECG line.
Sources say, while he walked into the church premises, and realized that the church still had light, he ordered the ECG, to put the power on because he could not achieve his objective.
The Associate Pastor told this paper that the minister is pushing the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to drag them to court, but the church won’t be deterred, because they are prepared to have their day in court.
He suggested the devil manifest itself in many forms, adding the police will know that they are not battling flesh and blood, but God, since the church acted in His name, adding “If we go to court and we lose, it is God that has lost”.
Exactly three months ago, the Minister was caught in a blatant show of power, when he seized heavy duty equipment belonging to Engineers and Planners (E&P), and stopped bauxite mining at Nyinahin in the Atwima Mponua District of the Ashanti Region, that he is once again showing why he is the definition of law and order in the region.
In August, this year, Mr. Osei-Mensah, seized heavy duty equipment belonging to E&P, saying he will only release them unless, Ibrahim Mahama, brother of former President John Mahama, is able to provide him with documents granting the company permission to work at a bauxite concession at Nyinahim.
What clearly looked like a political victimization, was hidden behind the Ashanti Regional Coordinating Council, as part of its clampdown on illegal mining.
Ahead of seizure of the heavy duty equipment, the Mineral Commission and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), had granted permission to Exton Cubic Group Limited to go and prospect bauxite in the area.
E&P, were consequently contracted by Exton Cubic, to assist with its mining equipment.
It was while on its way that, Simon Osei-Mensah, seized the equipment and despite demonstration by the youth of the town and press conference by the Chiefs and elders of the area, he refused to release the equipment and allow Exton Cubic Group Limited to work.
Exton Cubic Group Limited was granted mining leases to mine bauxite. The company then outsourced the prospecting of the site to Mr. Mahama’s company, but the Regional Minister, prevented the drivers of the vehicles from entering the area. An ambulance for the district hospital was also denied entry to the town.
Speaking on Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme, Mr. Osei-Mensah, boasted that he seized the vehicles, because they did not have any permit to operate on the concession.
Although he was told by the Minister of Lands and Water Resources, John Peter Amewu and the Forestry Commission that Exton Cubic, had met all the legal requirements, he said he was yet to see documents to that effect.
“I don’t work with verbal communications, I need documents and until then, I will not release the machines,” he stressed, adding “I want to get the documents, commit the Lands Minister so that if something happens, he [Amewu] will be blamed.”
He claimed that such permission being given to mining companies, would affect the fight against illegal mining launched by President Nana Akufo-Addo.
In a rebuttal, Communications Director of E&P, Mr. Samuel Genfi, expressed shock at the conduct of the Ashanti Regional Minister.
He explained that, they have satisfied all requirements backed by law since May 13, 2013, thus Mr. Osei-Mensah, cannot claim not to know anything about it.
“There is no justifiable cause to detain those machines. The vehicles have been detained without any lawful reason,” he added.
John Peter Amewu, later caved in and cancelled all the agreement with the Exton Cubic. The company, has since filed a suit against the Akufo-Addo government over the matter. The equipments are still in his custody accruing charges, which are going to be slapped on the state.