Three members of the Apostolic Church- Ghana who sued the General Secretary of the church, Apostle Alex Kwaku Ofosu, for allegedly altering his age for him to continue to be at post, have decided to discontinue the suit.
The plaintiffs — Elder Emmanuel Tetteh Nyumgor, Elder William Okyere and Elder Ernest Teye — have subsequently, filed a notice of discontinuance at the Accra High Court to declare their intention not to pursue the case.
The notice filed at the court on Tuesday, April 23, 2019, read: “The plaintiffs herein hereby discontinue their claims against the defendants in the above-mentioned action with liberty to re-apply.”
In the interest of peace
Apart from the notice filed at the court, counsel for the plaintiffs, Mr Eddie MacCarthy, also wrote a letter to the President of the Apostolic Church- Ghana, Apostle Peter Okoe Mankralo, to inform him about the intention of his clients to discontinue the court case.
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The letter dated Tuesday, April 23, 2019, said the three elders of the church decided not to pursue the case in the interest of peace.
“Based on the honourable trial judge’s desire for this case to be settled outside of court and the many pleas from various bodies in the church, and in the interest of peace, my clients have decided to discontinue the case in court,” counsel said.
Elder Nyumgor, Elder Okyere and Elder Teye dragged the General Secretary of the church to court after they claimed that their petition challenging his continuous stay in office was not addressed by the church.
The Apostolic Church-Ghana and the National Council, which is the governing body of the church, were also joined to the suit as the other defendants.
It was the contention of the plaintiffs that Apostle Ofosu attained the age of 65, which is the retiring age for officers of the church, on January 28, 2018.
They, however, averred that the General Secretary had “purposely misrepresented his date of birth to the church, claiming that it was January 28, 1956 when, indeed and in fact, his actual date of birth is January 28, 1953”.
The plaintiffs further filed an application seeking an order for interlocutory injunction to restrain the Apostolic Church-Ghana from recognising Apostle Ofosu as the General Secretary of the church until the final determination of the suit.
Although Apostle Ofosu had not yet filed a defence in the suit, he denied the allegations levelled against him in his response to the petition by the three church members to the National Council.
“I wish to state emphatically that I am not liable or guilty of the offence of dishonesty or conduct that will bring the esteemed office of General Secretary of our reputable church into disrepute, ridicule or contempt,” he said.
When the case was first heard on March 5, 2019, the presiding judge, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, pleaded with the two factions to settle the matter out of court, since it was not good for a church issue to end up in a law court.
She, subsequently, appointed a senior lawyer, Mr Solomon Adjetey, to act as a mediator to help broker an agreement between the two sides.
The case was adjourned to March 18, 2019, for the parties to report back to the court on the settlement agreement.
However, on that day, the two parties pleaded with the court to give them more time to enable them to reach an amicable settlement.
Justice Asare-Botwe agreed and gave them three weeks to finally reach an agreement. Once again, quoting various scriptures from the Bible, she encouraged them to settle the matter out of court.
After the three weeks had elapsed, the two parties went to court on April 9, 2019, but without a settlement agreement.
The mediator presented his report to the court and explained that no settlement agreement had been reached.
Justice Asare-Botwe was not enthused about the development and asked the two parties to try again to settle the matter.
She gave them one week to do that and directed them to come back to court on April 16, 2019.
Council of State intervention
On April 16, 2109, the two parties informed the court that they were in a deadlock and had been unable to reach an agreement.
They, however, told the court that a Member of the Council of State, Nana Mireku Nyampong III, had offered to mediate the dispute after he had read about the court case and the efforts of the judge to have it resolved amicably out of court in the April 11, 2019 issue of the Daily Graphic.
Nana Nyampong III, who was in the courtroom that day, asked for a one-month period to enable him to engage the two parties for an amicable settlement.
Justice Asare-Botwe granted the request and adjourned the case to May 14, 2019.