The Founder and General Overseer of the International God’s Way Church (IGWC), Bishop Daniel Obinim, has been dragged to court by a private legal practitioner, Mr Francis Xavier Sosu, for flogging two members of his church.
Mr Sosu is seeking an order from the Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court that would protect what he described as the fundamental human rights of members of Bishop Obinim’s church.
A video of the incident, which is currently circulating on social media, shows the bishop whipping a young man and woman, identified only as Elliasu and Gyesiwaa respectively, with a belt before his congregation in a live television broadcast.
The crime of the two ‘sinners’, according to Bishop Obinim, was that the young man, who is his protégé, had impregnated the young lady, and that they had gone ahead to terminate the pregnancy.
Applause from church members
In what could be described as encouragement to continue with the whipping, some members of the church could be heard in the video shouting “beat them’.’
Another shocking moment in the video was the reluctance of Bishop Obinim to stop beating the lady in the video even after she had run to his wife, Florence, who was sitting on the dais.
“Florence, get away from her,’’ he shouted and further directed his other assistants to slap the lady if she got closer to them.
In another dramatic twist, the Bishop also directed his assistants to continue with the beatings after he had obviously had his fair share of inflicting pain on the two alleged “fornicators”.
In his writ filed at the court, Mr Sosu described the act by Bishop Obinim as a violation of human dignity and an affront to the 1992 Constitution.
He is, therefore, seeking a declaration that “the said beatings before the congregation amounted to violation of the dignity of the victims and is a violation of Article 15 (1) and (2) of the 1992 Constitution”.
He also wants the court to declare that the punishment by Obinim and his church violated “Ghana’s obligation under Article 55 of the Charter of the United Nations to promote universal respect for, observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all citizens of Ghana’’.
Mr Sosu is further seeking an order from the court that would bar the bishop, his cohorts, workers or any other person working under his authority from ever engaging in any act such as “beating, caning, stepping, spiting, insulting, inducements of fear, threat of death and invoking curses”.
“Or any conduct whatsoever described which violates the dignity of their members and followers and constitutes degrading, cruel and dehumanising treatment to their members and followers,” the writ said.
The incident has received a lot of public backlash and anger.
Already, the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has reported the incident to the Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) of the Ghana Police Service.
The Commission of Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has also condemned the incident.
The Head of Public Relations and Communications at CHRAJ, Mrs Comfort Akosua Edu, told the Daily Graphic that what happened was an abuse of the human rights of the two young persons.
Bishop Obinim has, however, described all those who have criticised his action as “fools”.
Speaking on OK FM, an Accra-based private radio station,yesterday he said he disciplined the two persons as a father and not just for the fun of it.
According to him, as a father he would not allow his children to engage in immoral activities without punishing them.
“The same people who are criticising me would be the same people who will say that I have used the girl for rituals if the abortion had failed. No one will believe that she died after engaging in abortion,’’ he said.