General Overseer of the International Central Gospel Church, Mensa Otabil, has turned 59. Already, best wishes have poured for the pastor whose influence in Ghana makes him one of the most powerful men in Ghana today.
Under his ministry, Mensa Otabil has expanded philanthropic outreach programs across the country through the Central Aid scholarship scheme. This scheme - the largest of its kind in Ghana, has provided scholarships to millions of SHS students across the country.
Also, Mensa Otabil, through the cancer project has offered financial assistance to all children with cancer in Ghana. By this Mensa Otabil, through this projects, makes the largest financial donation to the Children's Cancer Unit at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra.
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Consider him as the only pastor in Ghana who messages make it to the headlines and also stir national debate.
Otabil and collapse of Capital Bank
Pastor Mensa Otabil has come under some criticism following Ghana's banking crisis which has seen the collapse of some seven local banks. Mensa Otabil was head of one of such collapsed banks - Capital Bank.
Audit reports from the Bank of Ghana show that Capital Bank, of which Otabil headed, made huge mistakes in taking out depositor's funds to open yet another bank - Sovereign Bank.
In a 9-point press statement, the pastor, who was then the board chair of the bank, argued that his position as board chairman of Capital Bank was a "non-executive role." Mensa Otabil stated that he was not "involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the Bank."
The pastor further clarified that it was not intended of him to watch the bank collapse. Mensa Otabil clarified that he was only helping a young man (the CEO) who had wanted to change the fortunes of other people through Capital Bank.
Touching on the thousands of workers severely affected by the collapse of the bank, Dr. Otabil revealed that they always remain in his prayers as a pastor. "My position was a non-executive role. I was therefore not involved in the day-to-day management and operations of the Bank," parts of the statement read.
Seven local banks have all collapsed in the past few months and recent audit reports from the Bank of Ghana has shown that one of the major issue that collapsed these banks were poor decision making.
The defunct bank which has attracted much controversy of late is Capital Bank which had Pastor Mensa Otabil as the board chairman. Mensa Otabil's wrongdoing so far has been his inability to ensure due diligence in a loan he granted some key players in the collapse of Capital Bank.
Funds raised through the commercial paper issuance by MC Management Services Limited and Breitling Services were used as capitalization for the establishment of the Sovereign Bank Limited.
The Bank of Ghana in its report spotted some red flags including some GHc 27.5 million used for business promotion and handled by a board member; transfers to IFS amounting to GHc 23.9 million, transfers to Nordea Capital amounting to GHc 65 million, and transfers to Alltime Capital amounting to GHc 130 million.
In all this, the General Overseer of the ICGC, Dr. Mensa Otabil assured management that he would ensure the funds were returned by March 2016.
After these damning reports, there have been calls for heads to roll. In fact, the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) has mounted investigations into the matter.
Calls for Otabil's prosecution The question that remains unanswered is if Mensa Otabil could face the full rigors of the law should he be found guilty of financial malfeasance.
Amidst the expression of dissatisfaction over the telling reports from the Bank of Ghana is a general call for Mensa Otabil to be prosecuted.
According to the Member of Parliament for Kumbungu Constituency, Ras Mubarak, Mensa Otabil must not be left out of any prosecution.
Despite calls for his prosecution, Mensa Otabil seemed to have gained some popularity in social media from supporters and congregants of his church who have expressed their solidarity.
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The "I stand with Mensa Otabil" tagline has literally swamped social media as supporters including popular journalists and media personalities.
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