Former Lighthouse pastor charged for stealing discharged

Pastor Lawrence Nii Narku Odonkor, the former pastor of the Akyem Oda branch of Lighthouse Chapel International, who faced accusations of embezzling church funds totaling GH¢7,000, has been cleared of all charges and acquitted.

During his appearance before an Accra Circuit Court, Pastor Odonkor pleaded not guilty to two charges of theft and dishonestly appropriating GH¢7,054 of the church’s funds, which were intended for his own Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) contributions and taxes.

In her verdict delivered on September 15, 2023, Mrs. Ellen Ofei Ayeh, who presided over the case, determined that while there was indeed an appropriation of funds by Pastor Odonkor, it was not done with dishonest intent. The court noted that when Pastor Odonkor resigned from the church, he inquired with a senior bishop about any outstanding financial obligations, and the response he received was that there were none.

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Consequently, after a thorough trial, the court acquitted and discharged Pastor Odonkor.

It is worth noting that Pastor Odonkor was one of six pastors who had taken legal action against Lighthouse Chapel regarding their SSNIT contributions. Meanwhile, sources within the church have indicated that they intend to carefully review the entire judgment and consider an appeal.

According to the prosecution’s case, Pastor Odonkor, who was responsible for the day-to-day administration of the branch, signed checks and completed vouchers in March and April 2020 for his compensation, which included his salary, SSNIT contributions, and tax components. Despite clear indications on the vouchers and checks specifying that these funds were meant for SSNIT contributions and taxes, Pastor Odonkor deposited them into his personal accounts and failed to make the necessary payments for taxes and SSNIT contributions. The church later had to settle these SSNIT contributions and taxes, along with associated penalties, after which they filed a complaint with the police.

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