A 31-year-old man is in the grip of the police for threatening to kill seven executive members of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC) if they fail to pay him a ransom.
The suspect was arrested last Friday after he had unknowingly had a long text message chat with a Criminal Investigations Department (CID) official who had cultivated his friendship and promised to help him financially.
Using Vodafone number 0200816608, Samuel Kwame Yeboah, a caretaker of one of the mission houses of the Church of Pentecost in Accra, who is now in custody at the CID Headquarters in Accra, sent five text messages to the church leaders individually, demanding GH¢5,000 or he, together with others, would eliminate the church leaders, their families, as well as their church members.
The Pastors Threatened
Although there are more than 14 executives of the council, only seven were targets of the text messages.
The recipients of the text messages are
the Presiding Bishop of the Full Gospel Church International, Samuel Noi Mensah;
the Presiding Bishop of the Calvary Crusaders Ministries, Bishop Prince Baah;
the General Overseer of the Jesus Generation Ministries, the Rt Rev. Dr Nana Anyani Boadum;
the Head Pastor of the Fountain Gate Chapel at Ofankor in Accra, Rev. Clement Anchabah;
the General Overseer of the Miracle Life Gospel Church, Rev. Dr Gordon Kisseih;
the Chairman of the Christ Apostolic Church International, Dr Stephen Kwame Amoani, and
the General Overseer of the Foursquare Gospel Church, Rev. Christopher Marfo Ahenkora.
On the first day he sent the text messages on March 23, 2016, they came two hours apart, starting a little after 5 p.m. and read:
“We are armed robbers. We demand GHc5,000 from you and your church or we eliminate you and your family as well as 5,000 members of your church. Send to 0200381608 or action.
“It would be a very big case for you if you give this story to any media house. When are you sending the money? Let us know as soon as possible.
“No police intelligent unit can get us. Just send the money or we kill you and your members, as well as your family. You only have tomorrow to send the money.
“There is no way to get us not even Vodafone company tricks, police or media house.”
The last one sent on the morning of Holy Thursday, March 24, sounded more desperate: “Let me know whether you are sending the money or not.”
The incident is said to be generating fear among the executives of the council.
The threats are coming on the heels of threats of terrorism and the recent killing of the Member of Parliament for Abuakwa North, Mr J.B. Danquah-Adu, in bizarre circumstances.
Rev Mensah, who confirmed the incident to the Daily Graphic, said he was relieved that someone had been arrested in connection with the incident.
“The only thing you can think about if that is going to happen is by some explosive method. So that was a major concern to us and our church members and affected our membership drive because it was not too good a message.
“It is a relief for now that one has been grabbed. The kind of pressure and concern and panic it caused, especially when you are worried about your church members. The person said he was ready to kill 5,000 members of your church members across the country,” he said.
He was full of praise for the police who had been of great assistance in providing security and “on top of their professional work”.
Another pastor who received the message but spoke to the Daily Graphic on condition of anonymity said the incident was more worrying because the suspect was working for a member church.
How He Was Arrested
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the CID, ASP Joseph Benefo Darkwa, said he was not aware of the incident, since he was engaged outside the office last Friday.
But information gathered by the Daily Graphic from a source close to the CID said the suspect, while his phone remained switched off for voice calls, was exchanging text messages with an officer of the CID.
“He did not know he was chatting with an officer of the CID who got well acquainted with him. They became friends and the CID man offered to help him. It was when they met at Osu that he was grabbed,” the said.
Meanwhile, the suspect is expected to be arraigned tomorrow.