By Citizen Agba Jalingo
Seventeen years ago, Bishop George Adjeman, a Ghanian, was a protege of Bishop Oyedepo in Kaduna and was ordained as Bishop in Winners Chapel by same Oyedepo and then transferred 0 head Winners Chapel Ghana which consisted of 14 churches spread across Ghana, kingdom heritage schools and a church house.
In 2004 Bishop Adjeman staged a takeover of the Ghanian branch of Winners Chapel after the Headquarters in Canaanland Ota, Nigeria attempted to transfer him to winners chapel Ibadan when he refused to continue remitting the $60,000.00 monthly church income that was remitted to the Nigerian headquarters.
(Usually, money is remitted from all branches of the world to Nigeria, thereafter, certain percentages would be returned to the branches while the headquarters keep the rest.)
The gist was that the Church in 2004, started sacking pastors that did not have University degrees. Bishop Adjeman was said to be very anointed but didn’t have a university degree at the time and wondered when the holy spirit started using degrees as a criteria to call preachers to ministry.
Having spent 18 years in Winners Chapel and grown to that height, circumstances showed up that made him decide to take over the Ghana church which he was sent to head, from Oyedepo.
He stopped sending the monthly $60,000 to Nigeria and announced a take over of the church and its properties in Ghana.
After bishop Adjeman revealed how much was remitted to Nigeria every month, all hell was let loose in Ghana as the conversation became a Nigeria vs Ghana debate. Members of the Ghanian church claimed that Winners Chapel isn’t a limited liability and should not transfer money to Nigeria only to later receive some percentages of it.
Some Ghanaians called it colonialism and felt it was wrong for a church in Ghana to remit money to a church in Nigeria, therefore took side with Bishop Adjeman.
Others felt Adjeman was disloyal to his former boss in Nigeria and should leave the church without taking over any of the church properties, members or name.
The Ghanian branch of Winners Chapel was started in 1996, while Adjeman was transferred to Ghana in 2002.
However Adjeman claimed that when he got back to Ghana he met the church badly run and therefore, when government authorities in Ghana called for churches to be registered as companies, he went ahead to re-register the church in his own name and excluded the names of all the Nigerian trustees without informing the Nigerian church of the new regulatory development nor asking for their assent.
The initial aim of Adjeman wasn’t so clear at this stage. But what is sure is that Adjeman at some point, wanted at least, financial independence from the church in Nigeria before his impending sack. Following Adjeman’s refusal to keep remitting money to the headquarters in Nigeria, he was transferred to Ibadan, Oyo state.
He rejected the transfer and notified church members that he was been transferred because of his refusal to remit money to Nigeria. Some members cheered Adjeman on and encouraged him to disregard the transfer. Once Adjeman had refused to honor his transfer to Ibadan, Adjeman was then sacked by the Nigerian headquarters.
While attempts where been made to resolve the crisis of ownership, two factions where quickly created. The Oyedepo faction (was then referred to as Winners Chapel International, Ghana) and the Adjeman’s faction referred to as Winners Chapel Ghana.
Once the Adjeman faction had retained the church premises in 2004, the Oyedepo faction secured another space not too far away where they began worshipping as they began tussling with winners chapel Ghana led by Adjeman.
As the crisis raged on, the Ghana Police Force GPF, admonished Oyedepo to settle Adjeman, so he can go and start his own ministry. Oyedepo initially disagreed querying if that wouldn’t be tantamount to bribe.
The GPF however encouraged him to see it as a way of setting up a son. To settle the problem, Adjeman made a demand that he be paid $50,000 as severance, along with the church mission house and a car but Oyedepo vehemently opposed this.
But after due consultation with his church elders, Oyedepo was reported to have agreed to approve $100,000 for Adjamen, but without a car and a house. This didn’t go down well with Adjeman and he insisted on taking over the church for himself.
Seemingly feeling remorseful, Adjeman visited Oyedepo in 2010 against the wishes of his lawyers. There, Oyedepo reportedly agreed to let Adjeman have all the properties but should drop the “winners chapel” tag from his church name which was the root of the contention.
Adjeman agreed to drop the name and even church properties, but changed his mind as he got back to Ghana.
13 years after, in 2017, a Ghanian High Court dismissed a lawsuit by Winners Chapel Intl (Oyedepo’s faction). According to the court, winners chapel Ghana is a registered and recognized church in Ghana as it was duly registered by Adjeman and therefore won the case.
However properties acquired between 1996 and 2002 must be valued and half returned in cash value to Oyedepo’s faction. However judgment was not given as regards the name of the church.
But November 2020, Winners Chapel International, (Oyedepo’s faction), won back the ownership of its headquarters located at 16 Otublohum Road, Industrial Area, East Legon, Accra, Ghana, after sixteen years of court battle. WCI is also to have exclusive use of the name, Winners Chapel.
The Ghanaian Appeal Court returned the building and all its appurtenances to Bishop David Oyedepo in a judgment and Bishop George Adjeman who hijacked the property and also the church name, was ordered to render account to his former employers.
I know the facts in the story above to be true because I followed the events up as a reporter for many years when social media wasn’t really popular yet.
I wanted to also bring this to your notice for two reasons: First, to say that whether you saw the word “money” inside the new sack letter that the church recently served it’s pastors or not, disputes about money and resultant sack letters therefrom are not alien to this church. Infact, those who have spent long years in their pastorate can attest to that.
Secondly, for a long time now, it has become clear that Winners Chapel, like many other husband/wife owned Evangelical Ministries, aren’t run as churches in the strict Biblical meaning of the word.
They are some people’s business empires, where part of their pastor’s obligations include making profits for the church. That’s why Ghana asked them to re-register as companies. Even the court did not consider them in that dispute as a church, they saw them as employer and employee.
Finally, just like our own friend Justice Simon Amobeda, once told the leadership of the Assemblies of God Church who were before him while I was in court, that: “Since I have given you, our Lords Spiritual, all these years to see how you can settle out of court and you still cannot, I your Lord Temporal, will now have to deliver judgment over you.”
In the same manner, since the church of God has refused to remain as the salt of the world, we will not hesitate to trample on the sour grapes in the market place.