General News of Sun, 26 Nov 2017144
‘Noisy church’ left me no choice – Minister defends pastor’s arrest
Ashanti Regional Minister, Simon Osei Mensah, has told Citi News he had no option than to involve the police to disrupt the watch night service of the House of Bethel Ministry, as they were making excessive noise in the early hours of Saturday Morning.
According to the Minister, the church, which is located at Anwomaso-High Tension, a suburb of Kumasi, ignored his previous warnings, as they appeared to have increased the noise levels in an act of defiance.
Mr. Osei Mensah was said to have stormed the church at about 12:30am, with armed Police officers, and ordered them to halt an ongoing Watch Night Service because of the noise making.
The head pastor of the church, Reverend Kwame Takyi, was arrested and put behind bars, and granted bail later on Saturday morning around 8:00am, according to Citi News’ Ashanti Regional Correspondent, Hafiz Tijani.
Defending his approach, Mr. Osei Mensah said he has complained “several times [about the noise levels]. Yesterday [Friday], around midnight, they were making a lot of noise. I entered the church and I told them the level of the noise was too high.”
He said there were about 30 people in the congregation and he did not see the reason for all that noise “that we cannot even sleep.”
“The moment after I warned them and left, it [the noise] became even worse. Maybe I annoyed them so they rather increased the volume and I had no other option but to report them to the police,” Mr. Osei Mensah added.
Church disputes noise-making claim
The church, however doesn’t think it was making too much noise.
The Secretary of the House of Bethel Ministry, Stephen Osei, said to Citi News that, “at a point, the police felt the noise that was going on wasn’t something that could disrupt the place because it is a programme we do every last Friday of the month. He [the Regional Minister] has always been here with us and this time, we felt surprised this thing was going on.”
“Normally what we do is that, by 1:30 AM, we leave the microphone to the pastor to preach, and by then, we mute we everything in the room. People are not allowed to sing in the room,” he explained.
Unlawful arrest or show of power?
There are concerns the Minister may have acted in an unlawful manner, using his office and privilege as a public officer to intimidate the church.
Although there are by-laws on noise making in Ghana, they are mostly not enforced, worsening the situation across the country.
It is however unclear whether the Minister acted appropriately by ordering the arrest of the pastor, considering that in most cases of this nature, complaints are first made at the Assemblies’ departments that deals with such matters, or to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
This is because, such noise levels are measured with noise meters by these officials, to determine the permissible and non-permissible levels.
And in most of these cases, fines are often slapped on offenders rather than imprisonment terms, except in cases where a convict fails to pay the fine.