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Diasporian News of Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Source: Monitor

"Wired man-of-God" wanted by Ghana police

Kampala -- THE International Police (Interpol) in Ghana has notified Uganda that it wants the Ghanaian-born city pastor whose “electric touch” gadget was recently impounded by local detectives.

Pastor Obiri-Yeboah Kojo is wanted in Ghana for “jumping bail” in an alleged financial fraud case, Police Spokesman Asan Kasingye said yesterday.

“He was taken to court, jumped bail and they were not aware of his whereabouts until they heard that he was in Kampala,” Mr Kasingye said. “Interpol’s national central bureau in Ghana has asked that we hand him over.”

Local police are investigating Mr Kojo, 42, over his intended use of an electric gadget described by its makers as a miracle machine.

“Without a doubt, you will shock people,” says an advert on yigalmesika.com, the gadget maker’s website.

Entebbe Airport security personnel confiscated the gadget on July 5 as Pastor Kojo of 'We Are One with Christ' ministry attempted to clear it into Uganda. It has been widely speculated that the pastor would have used the gadget to shock unsuspecting church-goers into believing that they are experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit.

The gadget, which can be worn like a corset on the body or under the sole of a shoe, can generate up to 12 volts, enough current to “pleasantly” shock to the ground dozens of people at a time.

According to the users’ manual, “once your body is charged, you are able to transfer this electricity to other objects that are grounded or people”.

It appears local police will wait to see if a strong case can be built against the pastor so that he can be prosecuted before the deportation process begins.

Mr Ladislaus Rwakafuuzi, a Ugandan lawyer, said the pastor could be charged with disturbing religious assemblies, stupefying in order to commit a misdemeanour, or even assault “depending on the facts available”.

All these are misdemeanours and he could serve up to three years for each case if found guilty.

Pastor Kojo leads the We Are One with Christ ministry, an itinerant church whose current address is a large tent in the compound of his Old Kampala home. Pastor Kojo, who denies any wrongdoing, told reporters yesterday at his headquarters that he has just realised “how things are getting worse and worse”.

He claimed he is being witch-hunted by Mr Samuel Kakande, the Kampala pastor who was once a protégé of “Prophet” John Obiri-Yeboah, Pastor Kojo’s deceased father.

“Somebody is trying to destroy the work of God and the family of Obiri-Yeboah,” Pastor Kojo said. “Whatever is happening now is the work of Kakande.” He said that Pastor Kakande’s work “is not the practice of Christianity” and promised to provide photographic evidence of “cultism”.

According to Pastor Kojo, who has claimed the gadget was a gift for his teenage twins, Pastor Kakande had unsuccessfully tried to talk him out of starting his own church in Kampala.

“It was not a gospel; to me it was something else that Kakande was practicing,” Pastor Kojo said, adding that he was giving his fellow pastor 60 days to repent or face a misfortune he did not reveal.

Pastor Kakande said he would not return fire with fire. “I am not fighting him, I have nothing against him,” he said. “I know that I am a born-again Christian. I am waiting for the 60 days to expire.”

Pastor Kojo’s father John came to Uganda to preach the word in 1972 and stayed until his death in July 1987. He ran Redeem Church based in Katwe in Kampala. About 200 people usually attend Pastor Kojo’s Sunday sermons.

Some of them were present at the press conference and they occasionally clapped their hands whenever their pastor said something, as if to demonstrate their faith in his ministry, which is only six months old.

“Tell them the truth,” someone shouted.

Few pastors have come to Pastor Kojo’s defence in the wake of his troubles; and the National Fellowship of Born-Again Pentecostal Churches has already disowned him.

Reports of Pastor Kojo’s alleged impropriety have stoked cynicism over the activities of the Pentecostals or balokole, including suggestions that miracle healings witnessed in their churches are dubious.

There are 6 million Pentecostals attending 20,000 churches in Uganda, according to the National Fellowship of Born-Again Pentecostal Churches. Yet only 1,020 churches subscribe to the born-again umbrella body.