Politics

Go and sin no more – Akufo Addo tells lawless party delegates – As pastors languish in jail over COVID-19 protocol disregard

President Akufo-Addo, has left delegates of the governing New Patriotic Party (NPP) off the hook, despite breaking the COVID-19 safety protocols during the party’s parliamentary primaries on Saturday June 20, 2020.

Despite admitting that the delegates broke the protocols to contain the virus, the President, said they won’t be made to face the laws like that pastor in the Volta Region, who was jailed together with his junior pastors months ago for breaking the same protocols.

Some prominent members of the clergy, had come out last week strongly criticizing the government on the way it handled the primaries, describing it as selective and bias.

But addressing members of the party at his acclamation as the NPP’s presidential candidate for the 2020 presidential election together with Vice President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia on Saturday June 27, 2020 at Alisa Hotel in Accra, President Akufo Addo, explained the obvious breach as unfortunate.

He said “This past weekend our party came to the end of the processes that we have to go through to prepare for the elections in December with the primaries in constituencies where we have sitting MPs.

“Unfortunately in our enthusiasm and sheer unbridled joy, we broke some of the Covid-19 safety protocols. It should not happen again”.

He also cautioned that “There are no hiding places when the virus is on board”, hence the need for all to adhere strictly to all laid down protocols.

His comments come months after a pastor in the Volta Region, was arrested, prosecuted and jailed together with his junior pastors for the same offence.

The pastor from Tongor-Abui, was jailed four years alongside two others, for defying the ban on social gatherings.

Sampson Agakpe, the founder of the Church of Pure Christ, assistant pastor, Maxwell Dzogoedzikpe and church secretary, Samuel Agakpe, were arrested on April 12 for holding a church service contrary to the president’s orders.

Prosecutors say more than 50 persons attended the service, all of whom managed to escape when police stormed the venue.

The trio were thus, arraigned before the Kpando Circuit Court where they pleaded guilty to flouting the ban put in place under the Imposition of Restrictions Act 2020.

Prosecutors told the court the three held a church service “in flagrant disregard of…restrictions on public gathering including religious activities in churches.”

Mr Agakpe and his accomplices were fined GH¢13,200 each; or to serve four year imprison term in default.

As of Thursday, April 16, the convicts failed to pay the monies totaling GH¢39,600. They have since been sent to the Ho Central Prison to begin their four year sentence.

But their colleagues have however jumped to their defense saying the jailing of the pastors cannot be described as fair if the laws do not deal with those party delegates who were seen on live television hugging, shaking hands, wearing no facemasks and social distancing.

President Akufo-Addo a while announced that the Police Service would be seeing to it that citizens comply with the mandatory wearing of masks law which is stated in the Executive Instrument 63 to help in the fight against the spread of Covid-19.

The E.I. state that a person caught not wearing a facemask, is to be punished by the law under the E. They are to pay either a minimum fine between ¢12,000 and ¢50,000 or be imprisoned for a four-year minimum up to 10 years, according to the lawyer.

The peeved pastors decried members of the party were allowed to be together several hours, in most cases, to vote while churches have been restricted to an hour of service.

The founder and General Overseer of Perez Chapel, Bishop Charles Agyinasare, expressed wonder how Ghanaians can go and vote in the primaries but “when it comes to church, it is like at the gate of the church we are distributing coronavirus”.

“That is what the devil has made people to think,” he stressed. In a post on his Instagram page, Bishop Agyinasare said Satan could be behind the deadly coronavirus.”Is it not amazing to you that our president, our Minister of Health who are all Christians, when it comes to taking a decision on church activities during this pandemic are afraid?” he quizzed.

“Everybody believes that people can go and vote and the coronavirus will not get them. We can go and register and the virus will not get them and even distribute NIA cards. Have multitude gather on a park and still not get the virus. But if they come to church, the coronavirus will get them. It is a demon.”

The President of Full Gospel Church International (FGCI), Bishop Samuel N. Mensah, condemned politicians and predicted that there will be more cases of the virus in the next few weeks as a result of the way the primaries were conducted.

“[There] was no social distancing, no face masks. All those things is going to increase the rise of the COVID and it will multiply,” he told his congregation, “and in the next two weeks we may probably have another 5,000 rise-up.”

He said, unfortunately, the church will be blamed for the surge he has predicted.

“And they stayed there for more than 2, 3 hours and yet they said for church, we must only meet for one hour and some churches when they met during the lockdown, they have been jailed and et these people are doing what they don’t need to do.

“It is like four legs bad, two legs good. If the law is the law everybody must obey the law.”

He admonished all not to follow politicians since they don’t consider the well-being of the populace.

This past weekend, our party came to the end of the processes that had to go through to prepare for the elections in December by holding primaries in the Constituencies where we have sitting MPs.

Unfortunately, in our enthusiasm and sheer unbridled joy, we broke some of the COVID-19 safety protocols. It should not happen again.

“Breaking the COVID-19 preventive protocols, as witnessed at the NPP’s Delegates Conference last Saturday, should not happen again”.

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