Chief Imam calls for calm after attack on Owusu Bempah's church
Some irate youth yesterday attacked the Odorkor branch of the Glorious Word and Power Ministries International in Accra over prophecies by its Founder, Rev. Isaac Owusu Bempah, that some Ghanaian leaders, including the Chief Imam, Sheik Nuhu Sharabutu, will die this year.
The Founder and Lead Pastor of the church had prophesied on New Year's Eve that some former Presidents and paramount chiefs would die this year.
The angry youth, believed to be Muslims, who issued a warning to Rev. Owusu Bempah to apologise and retract his pronouncements, also warned that they would continue to attack the church until they received the apology.
They stormed the church premises at Odorkor yesterday afternoon, carrying machetes, stones and other implements and vandalised the place.
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A person thought to be a gate man at the church narrowly escaped death when he ran for his life, with only a loin cloth on.
The gate man was ‘smoked out’ of the security post at the gate, and on seeing the machete and stone-wielding youth, he retreated into a room at the gate.
He came out of the room after receiving some beatings from the youth and ran from the premises onto the main road for safety.
Some of the youth entered the premises and vandalised anything they came across in the courtyard. They smashed glass windows and pulled down a giant signpost bearing the portrait of Rev. Owusu Bempah.
The children’s block on the church premises was heavily vandalised.
When he returned after the youth had left, the gate man told journalists and some eyewitnesses at the scene that he was about to have a bath when he heard some noise on the premises and went out to check, only to find the youth attempting to destroy some property of the church.
The incident was streamed live on Facebook by one of the attackers.
One person, thought to be the leader of the attackers, was heard saying he knew the man [Owusu Bempah] and that he was hiding in the building and dared him to come out.
He said the action by the youth was a warning to him to be watchful of his pronouncements.
He then called the youth off the premises, but not before they had completely destroyed the main signpost.
Prophecies of death
Apart from the Chief Imam, Rev. Owusu Bempah also prophesied that Vice-President Mahamudu Bawumia and former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor and John Mahama might also die.
A day after the prophecies had been given, some angry Muslim youth were captured defacing some billboards and posters of the church.
It has become a tradition for some pastors in Ghana to make doomsday prophecies on New Year’s Eve.
Meanwhile, some Christian leaders have reacted to Rev. Owusu Bempah’s latest prophecies and asked the public to disregard them.
The immediate past General Secretary of the Christian Council of Ghana, Rev. Dr Kwabena Opuni-Frimpong, for instance, called on church leaders and the media to put an end to the annual prophesying of the death of some leaders.
Rev. Dr Opuni-Frimpong, who is also a lecturer of the Department of Religious Studies at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), said the practice of prophesying the death of key leaders had proved to be of no help in fostering the needed bond among both the church and leaders and the various religious beliefs.
In a related development, the Chief Imam has called for calm and asked Muslim youth to exercise restraint.
Commenting on the action of the youth and the prophecies by Rev. Owusu Bempah, the Chief Imam called for forgiveness for Rev. Owusu Bempah and said Muslims had been living in peace with
Christians and adherents of other religions and underscored the need for the different faiths to maintain that relationship.
He asked the youth to leave Rev. Owusu Bempah and forgive him, saying that as for death every soul would taste it one day or another and so there was no need to attack the man.
He advised the youth not to engage in acts that would divide the country and begged them not to attack Rev. Owusu Bempah.