The police have discontinued the prosecution of former Lighthouse Bishop Emmanuel Oko Mensah over lack of evidence to support the charge that he stole his official car.
“Even though the suspect appropriated the vehicle, the appropriation was not dishonest,” the Attorney-General said in a letter dated November 3, 2022.
It ends a 14-month trial that began on September 22, 2021, after Lighthouse Chapel International filed criminal complaints against Bishop Oko Mensah on June 13, 2022.
Background of the former Lighthouse bishop case
Two years after Bishop Emmanuel Oko Mensah resigned from Lighthouse in 2019, the church filing its complaint through an administrator, Rebecca Addae, saying he was still dishonestly keeping the church’s Hyundai Elantra valued at $20,000.
The complainant accused Oko Mensah, who had served the church for 16 years, of stealing.
The complaint also came more than two years after Emmanuel Oko Mensah and five other former pastors had sued the church for trauma and economic exploitation.
With the cases still in court, Lighthouse Chapel International also filed criminal complaints against Oko Mensah and some of the other former employees, such as former Bishop Larry Odonkor, who have sued the church.
In the criminal case against Emmanuel Oko Mensah, the church claimed that their former bishop had refused to hand over the vehicle allotted to him to the church and all efforts made by the church to retrieve it had proven futile.
Oko Mensah admitted to the police that the car was in his possession but said he also expected the church to refund monies he had used to service the car even though that was the church’s responsibility. The former bishop said the church had not asked for the return of the vehicle since he left more than two years ago. He said he would have returned it if the church had requested it.
But he said he kept it also because he had a reasonable expectation that he could keep it because it has been “the practice” that departing employees kept their official vehicles after several years of service.
His claim was confirmed by the church’s HR officer, Michael Vengkomwine, who told the police that it was true that some former staff had been gifted their assigned vehicles, but he said it is upon proper resignation.
Oko Mensah’s departure was “sudden” and “without due notice.” If the church wanted to gift the car to Oko Mensah, it would have provided him with the transfer of ownership forms to facilitate the process, he said.
Case lacks evidence – A-G
The Attorney-General said after carefully studying the police docket, it was clear that Lighthouse knew where the car was, for the documents of the car were still in the name of the church and Oko Mensah did not change the ownership of the car.
“There is nothing in the docket to show that the suspect refused to surrender the vehicle to LCI when they requested the suspect to return the vehicle,” the letter signed by Assistant State Attorney, Akosua Agyapoma Agyeman, read.
“It is therefore our opinion that the charges of stealing cannot be sustained against the suspect. From the foregoing we dis-recommend the prosecution of Emmanuel Oko Mensah,” the letter ended.
The letter from the Attorney-General was written in response to a petition filed by Oko Mensah’s lawyer, Kofi Bentil who has condemned the prosecution as malicious. He has said the church is only doing this because his client has sued it for economic exploitation, and psychological trauma.
Kofi Bentil told The Fourth Estate “there was never a case of stealing.” He said after Oko Mensah was invited by the police to assist in investigations, Oko Mensah returned the car the following day. The vehicle had been in the possession of the church right through the trial.