On the 5th of June, 2023, I read a story headlined "You’ll be used as a scapegoat to prove the potency of our gods – Nogokpo Chiefs warn". Portions of the story read "Chiefs and Elders of Nogokpo in the Ketu South Municipality of Volta Region say after the 14 days ultimatum given to the founder of the Perez Chapel International, Archbishop Charles Agyinasare, they will teach him a lesson if he does not do the needful ( *MyNewsGH, 2023* )".
The elders have expressed their dissatisfaction with the explanation provided by the Man of God for his earlier characterization and labelling of Nogokpo as Volta region’s demonic capital.
As a result of this, they have therefore requested that the National Peace Council “assist Archbishop Charles Agyinasare in appearing before the Nogokpo community’s council of elders within fourteen days for a peaceful resolution.”
*Nogokpo People and Shrine*
Nogokpo is a small village located in the Ketu South Municipality of the Volta Region of Ghana along the Trans–West African Coastal Highway. It is famed for it's powerful Traditional and Spiritual Shrine which many people from different walks of life have visited and sought for justice.
The mention of the name Nogokpo is enough to put erring people on the straight and narrow. However, the name Nogokpo means "Stay in peace". Citi Newsroom, 2023 "The Nogokpo shrine is a popular Traditional Shrine in Ghana that is considered to harbour the god of justice".
According to a Coverghana.com.gh, 2020 story, the shrine does not harm innocent people but rather recalcitrant and unrepentant sinners. Such ones would have to pay the hefty price of death or permanently get confined at the shrine to serve.
*Agyinasare’s Unsavoury Comments*
The controversy surrounding this whole brouhaha was commenced by Archbishop Agyinasare who on May 25, 2023 in a sermon made statements during a church service about the Nogokpo shrine.
In the said sermon, Archbishop Agyinasare said that Nogokpo was the “demonic headquarters” of the Volta Region. He went on to make further claims against the Nogokpo deity which has angered its inhabitants.
It is against this backdrop that I humbly submit to him, on what basis would the Archbishop come to that conclusion about the people of Nogokpo? What is demonic about a shrine that dispenses justices to the wicked and brings relief to the troubled heart? In any case why would he brand a people and their shrine demonic? Is it demonic because of the allegation of people dying because they were taken to Nogokpo Shrine?
From the readings I've done and the reasons that warranted the Archbishop Agyinasare's outburst in describing Nogokpo as the "demonic headquarters of the Volta Region, in my humble appreciation are unwarranted, unsubstantiated, needless and very unfair to the shrine of Nogokpo and it's people.
*Enter Perez Chapel*
When a lot of consternation arose against him for the comments against Nogokpo, Archbishop Charles Agyinasare in responding to his critics during Church Service on Sunday, May 28, said, “I have received calls from people very close to me and my attention has been drawn to social media commentary on some portions of comments I made this past Thursday during the Supernatural Empowerment Summit at the Perez Dome."
This comes after a video of him categorising the town of Nogokpo in the Ketu South Municipal as the headquarters of demons in the Volta Region went viral, attracting criticisms.
Responding to his critics during Church Service on Sunday, May 28, he said his comments were not meant to denigrate the people of Nogokpo but “To drive home my point, I made reference to several instances where I have encountered manifestations of demonic powers in my crusades which have taken me to over 90 countries of the world. I gave an example of people who were seeking to levitate during a crusade in India. I gave an example of a demonic attack I suffered as a very young pastor who had gone to preach at a bus stop around Korle Bu.”
The Archbishop continued “In reference to Nogokpo, I wish to clarify that I never intended to refer to the town but rather make reference to an incident that happened after a crusade at Aflao.”
I “had absolutely no intention to cast a slur upon the people of the Nogokpo town and the Volta Region as a whole. I have had a very cordial relationship with the people of the Volta Region, and my wife of 38 years is, in fact, an Ewe from Keta. Two of my biological children bear Ewe names”, he emphasised
“Any misrepresentation or misinformation that has characterised the subsequent commentary and reportage is unfortunate (Agyinasare, 2023)".
*Enter Perez Chapel*
Perez Chapel International has declared a one-week fast and prayers following the controversy between the church’s founder, Archbishop Charles Agyinasare, and the chiefs and people of Nogokpo in the Volta Region.
On Sunday, June 4, 2023, a declaration was made by the Presiding Bishop of Perez Chapel International, Benjamin Ohene Aboagye.
“On the 25th of last month, during our Supernatural Empowerment Summit, Archbishop Charles Agyinasare made a statement concerning the Nogokpo issue. I think we are all aware of the issue in Ghana. It is trending on social media and other platforms. We, the Perez Council, on behalf of the Executive Council, have taken notice of all these things and this is what the Executive Council is saying. We are declaring a one-week fast from the 5th to the 11th of this month, and we expect all pastors, elders, deacons, deaconesses, and all our churches to participate in this fast for one week. We believe that God is our helper. He is our rock. He is the one we look up to. So this is the decision we have taken for now. We expect everyone [in all our branches] to take part in this fast,” he said.
*The Way Forward*
The decision of the church to declare a one week fasting and prayer in relation to this matter is good. It is a spiritual and/or religious matter but, it doesn't douse the tensions between their leader and the elders and people of Nogokpo. The leadership of the church must do the needful.
Again, the ultimatum given by the Nogokpo elders to Agyinasare was appropriate but the inherent threat to using him as a scapegoat to serve as a caution to all others who have the penchant to denigrate and desecrate our Traditional African Religion was also needless.
The idea of the elders of Nogokpo in routing their request through the National Peace Council for an amicable settlement between them and the Perez Chapel leader is highly Commendable.
Perez Chapel should as mater of urgency send a high powered delegation preferably including their Archbishop to Nogokpo to iron out any misunderstanding. If they cannot go with their Archbishop, they can still send a delegation to appease the elders of the pejorative comments of their leader against them.
Nogokpo is a community and not necessarily a shrine. Any comment against them affects the entire image of the inhabitants and the traditional rulers of that enclave have the right to invite whoever has said anything that tarnishes and insults their person.
Within our setting, if a traditional authority summons you, necessarily, you must honour the summons as a sign of respect. It is upon this basis that I encourage the Perez Chapel founder to honour the invitation.
Mistakes happen all the time and that is what makes us humans. Archbishop Agyinasare erred in his comments against the people of Nogokpo.
I respectfully submit that a strong delegation of the church should be sent to go and assuage the pain of the Chiefs and Elders of Nogokpo.
We all criticise other religions maybe, ignorantly, but to brand a community as the 'demonic headquarters" of the Volta Region is in bad taste and ignorantly said.
Our country has co-existed peacefully with all other religions over several years. This too shall pass but Perez Chapel and it's leader must do the needful to avoid any unnecessary tensions between the church and the inhabitants of Nogokpo.