Lighthouse Chapel, a leading Charismatic Church in Ghana has filed multiple suits against The Fourth Estate, an independent journalism project of the Media Foundation for West Africa.
The suits follow a series of reports published by The Fourth Estate about alleged abuse of the rights of some six former pastors of the Church.
The three-part story reported by The Fourth Estate catalogued the alleged abuse of the former six pastors including the non-payment of SSNIT contributions of the clergymen who have since resigned from the church.
The six have resigned and sued the Lighthouse Chapel International and are praying the court to compel the church to pay their SSNIT contributions and damages for the rights, which the church violated.
Eight months after the publication, the church in a suit said it was unable to “quantify and or particularise the loss it has suffered or sustained” after the series of stories on the issue.
It named the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Estate, Manasseh Azure Awuni; the reporter who worked on the story, Edwin Appiah; the Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Sulemana Braimah and the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), as defendants.
Part of the suit said, “It is the plaintiff’s contention that the relationship of the plaintiff [LCI] and its founder is a closely fused and inseparable that an attack on the plaintiff’s leader is as good as an attack, both directly and indirectly, against the plaintiff.”
The Lighthouse Chapel International contended that the publication dented its image and it had “suffered considerable damage distress and embarrassment, and has also suffered special and aggravated damage,” and wants the court to restrain The Fourth Estate from publishing “similar words defamatory of the plaintiff.”
The church claimed that The Fourth Estate’s publication meant that, The Lighthouse was engaged in a “long term deceptive agenda of inducing its employees and volunteers into untoward reliance on the plaintiff and so succumbing to subservient dependence on the plaintiff.”
Aside from these, it also wants The Fourth Estate to apologise for the stories and also pull down all the stories.
However, Sulemana Braimah, the Executive Director of the MFWA, has maintained that the independent journalism project will be unfazed by the suits.
“We are undeterred by these suits and remain resolute in our mission to produce compelling stories that serve the public interest. We are mindful of the challenges we will face in our efforts to revive and bolster watchdog journalism that holds the powerful accountable. We will remain on the side of the public and vulnerable,” Mr Braimah said.