Winners’ Chapel Ghana Ownership Battle Re-ignited
…Ghana Court Orders Sharing of properties
Report by IFN TV NEWS DESK
A fresh section of controversy has set in in the longstanding dispute over the ownership of Winners Chapel International Ghana.
The dispute which began in 2004 when the presiding pastor of the church, Bishop George Adjeman took over the ownership of the church one Sunday morning has since then been in court.
However, an Accra High Court in a July, 28 2017 judgment has ordered inter alia that the properties of the church at the date of the split, be valued and shared between Winners Chapel Ghana (WCG) headed by Bishop Adjeman and Winners Chapel founded by Bishop David Oyedepo, in the proportion of members each had at the time of the split.
The judgment has since reignited the embers of the dispute which has lasted for thirteen years.
In a statement released by the leadership of Winners’ Chapel International, Ghana after the judgment and made available to IFNT TV, they stated that “Winners’ Chapel leadership is of the view that the judgment did not resolve all the controversies presented to the court for resolution. Its lawyers have, therefore, been given unqualified instruction to take necessary step to ensure a full resolution of all the matters in controversy before the appropriate forum”.
The press release from the church further read:
“Following a judgment delivered by an Accra high court on July, 28 2017 in what has become known as the Winners’ Chapel Case, publications and commentaries in the media land scape have necessitated this article. It is the opinion of Living Faith World Outreach Center (LFWOC) aka Winners’ Chapel (here in after referred to as the “church”). And its sister company in charge of missions in Ghana, the World Mission Agency (WMA) that their case is different from what is being told.
Winners’ Chapel and World Mission Agency, both companies incorporated in Ghana together with some of their Ghanaian members sued Bishop Adjeman and some of his followers before the High Court 13 years ago when they took over the properties of Winners Chapel and started laying claim to the name “Winners Chapel Ghana”. The suit was among others, to reclaim the properties, and most importantly, to redeem and preserve the name of the church, the main object being to halt the identity crises that had been created by the actions of Bishop Adjeman.
In a judgment that throws up many more questions than answers, the judge ordered inter alia that the properties of the church at the date of the split, be valued and shared between Winners Chapel Ghana (WCG) headed by Bishop Adjeman and Winners Chapel founded by Bishop David Oyedepo, in the proportion of members each had at the time of the split”
THE GENESIS OF THE DISPUTE
In 1986, George Adjeman, a young Ghanaian working in Cooperative Bank in Nigeria, was drawn to the ministry of Bishop David Oyedepo. He joined the Living Faith World Outreach Center (LFWOC) aka Winners’ Chapel in Nigeria. George Adjeman then trained and was ordained as pastor. He served in different branches of Winners’ Chapel for many years in Nigeria. His nationality as a Ghanaian did not matter because nationality has never been a criterion for working in the Lord’s vineyard.
In obedience to the vision and call of God, a missionary group from the church’s foreign missionary arm, World Mission Agency (WMA) headquartered in Nigeria was in 1996 sent to Ghana to create spiritual awakening and revival through the preaching of the word of faith. This culminated to the establishment of Living Faith World Outreach Center aka Winners’ Chapel and World Mission Agency (WMA) offices in Ghana. Reverend Doctor Olu Olulana and Pastor Steve Abrahams, WMA’s first missionaries to Ghana planted seeds that saw the church in Ghana grow exponentially. Pastor Dele Bamboye later replaced them.
In 1999, World Mission Agency posted the then pastor Adjeman to Ghana to replace pastor Dele Bamboye and oversee the Winners’ Chapel and its church network in Ghana. During his tenure, complaints were lodged against him which necessitated a quarry from his employers. Coincidentally, around that period, Pastor Adjeman was nominated to be appointed as a Bishop. He repented and, by a hand written apology letter dated august 7, 1999, asked for forgiveness from Bishop David Oyedepo thus:
“Here I am a person being considered for Bishopric office and yet messing up the affairs of this ministry. When I think back at the number of times I have written a letter like this and a deep resolve in me never to be caught in a situation like this, I marvel at myself. Oh wretched man that I am who shall deliver me from this body of death. SIR, ONE MORE TIME I SAY I AM SORRY”.
The communion of Living Faith Churches Worldwide later consecrated Pastor Adjeman on December 11, 1999 as a Bishop. After working in Nigeria for three (3) years, Bishop Adjeman was, in 2002 reposted to Ghana by Winners’ Chapel to oversee the mission’s activities in Ghana. In 2004 bishop George Adjeman was requested by his employers to go on transfer but he refused and unilaterally declared his independence at the Sunday service following the notice of transfer which led to the termination of his appointment.
Prior to Bishop Adjeman’s second coming to Ghana in 1997, registration of the church at the Registrar Generals Department had commenced and the church had obtained a Certificate of Incorporation with registration number G.1635.What was left to be obtained was the Certificate to Commence Business.
Like all pastors and bishops of the church, once Bishop Adjeman was transferred to a branch of the church, he automatically assumed leadership: and that entailed a burden duty on him to meet all regulatory requirements if any onbehalf of the church.
In the last quarter of 2003, there was a routine call by the Registrar Generals’ Department asking registered companies to take necessary steps to regularize their existing registration. The duty therefore fell on Bishop George Adjeman an employee of the church, to observe same. Bishop Adjeman commenced the regularization processes.
However Bishop Adjeman changed the names and particulars of the existing Directors of the Church in the regularization process unknown to the leadership of the church and its existing directors in Ghana at that time. The signature of one of the existing directors in the church was obtained through misrepresentation and this is what enabled Bishop Adjeman to change the existing directors and to subsequently register Winners’ Chapel Ghana.
The certificate of incorporation having been granted earlier with the aforementioned registration number; the regulatory authorities assigned the same registration number G.1635 to the certificate to Commence Business. This is logically understandable since the Certificate to Commence Business is an offspring, or a product of the Certificate of Incorporation.
It would be appropriate to, at this point, consider some critical fact of the matter.
- Living Faith World Outreach Center and World Mission Agency aka Winners’ Chapel existed in Ghana before Bishop Adjeman were posted to Ghana and have always been Ghanaian companies.
- Whatever processes that Bishop Adjeman took for the regularization was routine procedural requirements of the Registrar Generals Department hence as pastor in charge he was mandated to undertake them on behalf of winners’ chapel.
- Bishop George Adjeman took over the church and its properties and immediately renamed the church as “Life Assembly” aka “Champions”.
- “It was the Lagos church that took us to court”: After the judgment, Bishop Adjeman has attempted to colour his victory with xenophobic brushes. References to the “Nigerian Plaintiff” and statement like “as for us we did not take anyone to court but it was the Lagos church who took us to court” in his interview in the media are unfortunate and not correct. It is a fact that the first two plaintiffs are Ghanaian companies and all the other plaintiffs are Ghanaian.
- That Messrs Sowah and Savage, initially with Bishop Adjeman, suddenly teamed up with the plaintiff against Bishop Adjeman: It has been reported in the August 3, 2017 edition of the Punch Newspaper that Messrs Sowah and Savage who were initially with Bishop Adjeman suddenly teamed up with the Plaintiffs against Bishop Gorge Adjeman. This is an aberration of the truth. Pastor Theodore Sowah and Elder Hugh Savage have resisted Bishop Adjeman’s rebellion from inception and have never been in support of him. They were part of the plaintiffs who took Bishop Adjeman to court.
- As fate would have it, it was rather three of the Ghanaian defendants who were members of Bishop Adjeman’s Executive Council, who lost confidence in his cause, abandoned him during the case and threw in their lot with the plaintiffs. They are, Messrs Samuel Bakoe, Omane Frimpong and Solomon Bonney.
- Registration of word of Faith Bible Institute (WOFBI) and Winners Chapel not having any documents and certificates to show the court: Contrary to misrepresentations in the media by Bishop Adjeman, the court did not say anywhere in its judgment that Bishop Adjeman had already registered the winners chapel flagship bible school known as the Word of Faith Bible Institute (WOFBI). It was not a matter determined by the court. The attempt by Bishop Adjeman or his agent claiming victory over this is mischievous. Indeed this portrays him as a man who has been unable to articulate his own vision in ministry.
- “Battle” between Bishop Adjeman and his former “Senior Colleague” Bishop Oyedepo: The presentation of this case as a battle between Bishop Adjeman and his former Senior “Colleague” Bishop Oyedepo is not a correct representation. Bishop Oyedepo was never a party to the suit. This is a case where Bishop Adjeman, who was employed by Winners’ Chapel Nigeria, was posted to serve in the mission branch in Ghana by his employers. He rebelled, took over his employer’s place of worship and properties and clandestinely took over the church in Ghana as his. The issue to be resolved by the court were issues between Bishop Adjeman and his employers Winners’ Chapel and World Mission Agency.
- Bishop George Adjeman exploited xenophobic sentiments amidst false propaganda, creating the impression that the dispute between himself and his employers borders on nationalism. Indeed the issue is whether an employee can forcibly take the properties of his employer because he completed statutory registration on behalf of his employer.
- The issue before the court were amongst others: Whether or not the members of Winners Chapel Ghana ceased to be members of Winners Chapel when there was a split in July 2004; Whether or not Bishop Adjeman and the other defendants are entitled to retain possession of Winners Chapel and WMA’s properties and premises and whether or not Bishop Adjeman’s allegations against Bishop David Oyedepo, Winners Chapel and World Mission Agency justified Bishop Adjeman and his followers action to seize an established church. Rather strangely, the court did not determine any of the above- mentioned issues.
- The Plaintiff rejected amicable settlement proposed by the court and opted for full hog trial at the court: Initially, the Ghana Pentecostal Council (GPC) attempted an amicable settlement of the matter between the parties before the trial. In the course of the trial, the Supreme Court also ordered that, the parties resort to mediation to try and resolve their differences. These processes broke down because of the lack of cooperation by Bishop George Adjeman.
- Bishop Adjeman sent an emissary to Nigeria to arrange a meeting and seek audience with Bishop David Oyedepo. He was asked to clarify the purpose of his trip before coming, which he did. He subsequently traveled to see Bishop David Oyedepo in Nigeria to apologize for his misconduct and plead for forgiveness. In his plea for forgiveness, he made a commitment to return the church and its properties and to also drop the names Living Faith World Outreach Centre aka Winners’ Chapel and the World Mission Agency. He said:
“Sir… What I’m saying is, I’m not just dropping name, I’m dropping all. Property in Accra and Tema.” He was forgiven, prayed for and returned to Ghana to carry out what he himself had promised voluntarily. He had change of mind on his return and has refused to carry out promise till date.
- Charge of theft: Bishop Adjeman is of the belief that the judge in his judgment dismissed a charge of theft against him. The case was a civil case and not a criminal one. Hence the issue of theft was never before the court.
- 14. Many are those who think that this is all about property—it is not! As a body of Christ, we are not ignorant of the devices of the enemy. Creating identity crisis for the church and the body of Christ is intended to mislead, disintegrate and rob the visionary of his vision. The name of the church is tied to the vision. When there is a breakaway, does that person move, covet and fight over the Ministry’s name, logo and concepts like a Bible School of the Ministry he is breaking away from?
- The vision was given to the Visionary, that is, Bishop David Olaniyi Oyedepo. The mandate was specific and clear:
The hour has come to liberate the world from all oppressions of the devil through the preaching of the word of faith, and I am sending you to undertake this task.
- Bishop David Oyedepo’s obedience to this call and allowing God’s presence to always go before him has led to an effortless expansion and exponential growth of the Church across the World. These proofs abound, before the takeover of the Church in Ghana by Bishop Adjeman, there were only six (6) branches of the church in Ghana. Currently, the church has seen quantum leaps with over one hundred and fifty-six (156) branches across the regions of Ghana alone.
- As the Lord continues to bless our Churches in ways beyond human comprehension, so have we sought to impact that lives and destines of people in the various communities. Additionally, we are fulfilling the mandate by meeting the needs of our communities and empowering people through skill-acquisitions workshops, provision of boreholes and tanks, prisons support services; the list is by no means exhaustive.
- When Bishop George Adjeman took the Church, it had over fourteen thousand (14,000) members in attendance every Sunday. Today, Winner’s Chapel Ghana hardly counts one thousand (1,000) members in attendance in any service.
The above facts clearly depict the Winner’s Chapel story and we call on the body of Christ to reject divisive tendencies plaguing the body of Christ.
Attempts to reach the Bishop Adjeman led breakaway Winners’ Chapel Ghana had not materialized as at press time.