The Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) has confirmed that the Lighthouse Chapel Incorporated Ghana (LCI Ghana) has paid and is not liable to pay the SSNIT contributions of five out of the six former pastors and bishops.
SSNIT has also confirmed that LCI paid 14 years of SSNIT and is only in default for one month regarding the sixth pastor, Oko Mensah.
The Trust stated that Bishop Larry Odonkor and Pastors Seth Duncan, Edem Amankwah and Faith Makafui Fiakojo were not in the employment of the organisation during the period they are claiming non-payment of contributions, and so the church is not required to make those payments.
In the case of Bishop Oko Mensah, the Trust has asked the church to pay for May 2019, which is the only time the organisation defaulted on its payments.
In addition, LCI Ghana will also be required to pay the penalties accrued due to the default.
LCI says the default was a result of an administrative lapse. It said the month in question was Bishop Oko Mensah’s first month in a new branch of the church, and he was being moved onto a new payroll at the time.
The six individuals, who identify as former employees of LCI Ghana, claim the church willfully refused to pay their contributions for a total of 58 years (running concurrently) when they used to work there.
In a concurrent court case, the former pastors and their legal representative claimed that no SSNIT contribution has been made for the last 16 years for any of the formerly employed pastors.
SSNIT has, however, confirmed that for Bishops Larry Odonkor and Oko Mensah, as well as Pastor Edward Laryea, there were multiple years of uninterrupted social security contributions made by the church.
Bishop Larry claimed the church owed him 15 years of unpaid SSNIT contributions; Rev Edward Laryea’s was three years, while Pastors Seth Duncan, Edem Amankwah and Faith Makafui Fiakojo were nine years, 11 years and six years, respectively.
Bishop Oko Mensah was claiming over 14 years of unpaid SSNIT contributions. This makes 58 years of alleged non-payment of SSNIT contributions.
LCI stated that they were not informed that the pastors were seeking any clarification of their SSNIT contributions, as such information is available to all church employees.
After the pastors sued the church, LCI wrote to SSNIT and asked for any lapses in the payment of contributions to be clarified for each of the former pastors.
The social security office has now responded to the church and confirmed that Lighthouse Church is not liable for any payments save the one month lapse for Oko Mensah.
Though legal proceedings are ongoing, SSNIT has concluded its investigation, which is separate from the litigation.
In a response that was submitted to the Trust, the church said that only three of the pastors have ever been employed by the church. And that for all the years that they were employed, their contributions were duly paid.
The church maintains that the other three individuals served as volunteers in the period, like thousands of other lay pastors in the denomination.
These three pastors were not formally employed by the church. However, the church also maintained that both parties consented to that fact in various written agreements.
Despite contrary claims of the same by the pastors, SSNIT has confirmed that the church’s statement holds in all cases apart from the May 2019 payment for Bishop Oko Mensah.
The Bishop worked for the church in various capacities from 2003 to 2019, informing his decision to demand 14 years of unpaid SSNIT contributions.