General News of Thursday, 20 July 2017
A self-acclaimed Man of God at the centre of a multi-faceted scam that has rocked the Sekondi-Takoradi metropolis has been arrested by the police.
Scores of alleged victims of Apostle Joel Amenu (the suspect) rushed to the police station to lodge complaints against him when news broke that he had been arrested.
Apostle Amenu is alleged to have defrauded hundreds of people and institutions in the metropolis of money said to be in the hundreds of thousands of cedis on the pretext of giving them soft loans for their businesses and offering them opportunities to acquire vehicles on hire purchase.
He is also said to have promised to offer scholarships to the children and wards of some of his victims.
The police said he was being held for operating a fraudulent scholarship and micro-finance scheme and issuing dud cheques to some of the victims.
Most of his victims are market women, artisans at Kokompe, parents and hotel operators.
The suspect, who also operated the Mary Ekem Foundation (a non-governmental organisation (NGO) with his girlfriend, Lady Mary Ekem, is also alleged to have used the names of former President John Mahama and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to enhance the credibility of the foundation.
Some of his victims claimed he collected GH¢150 each from a number of parents as scholarship processing fees and issued dud cheques to schools to cover the school fees of beneficiaries.
Apostle Amenu’s micro-finance company is also alleged to have collected GH¢4,000 each from some unsuspecting workers and promised to give them vehicles to be paid in instalments.
Some artisans at Kokompe claimed the suspect collected various sums of money from them to provide them with boreholes to solve their water problems.
According to the police, the suspect led a luxurious lifestyle, sleeping in plush hotels, renting vehicles and buying fuel on credit in the name of the foundation and paying with dud cheques.
The suspect’s cover was blown when banks refused to honour cheques he issued and went into hiding until he was arrested last Monday.
According to some of the aggrieved victims, Apostle Amenu was introduced to them by the Chairman of the Association of Private Schools in the metropolis, Mr Mintaba, as the project director of Mary Ekem Foundation.
They said the suspect held several meetings with them and explained the mode of selection for brilliant pupils and students from the primary to junior high school.
Some of the victims said the confidence they had in the chairman of the association made them convey the information to other parents who bought into the idea of having their children’s school freely covered starting this year.
When contacted, Mr Mintaba confirmed introducing the suspect to the association based on the man’s juicy offers, saying “even students and their parents from my school are victims.”
He said on December 29, 2016, the foundation posted notices in schools inviting parents to its office to sign the “scholarship endorsement form for transparency and monitoring of the disbursement of the scholarship funds by their major sponsors.”
They were given a deadline to sign on to the agreement before January 14, this year with three passport-size pictures of their children and wards.
Apostle Amenu then invited all parents and guardians to pick certificates jointly signed by him and his girlfriend, Lady Mary-Ekem, who were designated as the president and project director respectively of the foundation.
On the certificate, parents were assured of free school fees for their children from January 2017 to December 2018.
The Takoradi District Police Commander, Mr Peter Ofori Donkor, who spoke to the Daily Graphic, said the suspect was currently in the custody of the police, while more victims were lodging complaints at the police station.
He said in the case of the scholarship scam, the suspect forged the signature of his girlfriend who is the owner of an account he is not signatory to.
He said the suspect also is being investigated for sleeping in hotels and bolting, and operating a fake micro finance company.