It took the intervention of the Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Issac Odamtten, to restore calm at the chaotic scene
The dream of a pastor of the Jesus Foundation Prayer Ministry at Tema Community One, Albert Tetteh Mensah, to marry his pregnant fiancée Wednesday ended in near fisticuffs at the Tema Metropolitan Marriage Registry.
A 20-year-old ex-girlfriend of Pastor Mensah’s, who claimed to have bore him a two-week-old baby, rudely interrupted the ceremony, which was initially scheduled for 9 a.m., only for officials of the Social Welfare Department to intervene and reach an agreement with the parties involved.
Scores of would-be couples who had queued for their turn to exchange vows looked on in perplexity as family members of Ms Mabel Patamia, the nursing mother, sang and cursed the pastor and his family members who had followed him to the registry to tie the nuptial knots.
Patamia’s mother, Madam Cynthia Patamia, could not come to terms with the events, following what she described as Pastor Mensah's initial proposal to the family to ask for her daughter’s hand in marriage.
"I'm surprised he could have a change of heart and make a U-turn two weeks after the delivery of his baby boy by my daughter," Madam Patamia bewailed.
The chaotic scene created resulted in scores of traders, passers-by and residents grouping to catch a glimpse of the spectacle, while Madam Patamia’s livid family members engaged the security detail at the assembly in a stand-off.
That necessitated a call for reinforcement, which saw armed policemen and some members of the Tema Development Corporation (TDC) task force being positioned at vantage points to ward off troublemakers.
Infuriated for being locked out from entering the registry, Madam Patamia and her family members cursed and rained insults on the security men, as well as persons believed to be supporting the marriage.
It took the intervention of the Tema Metropolitan Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Issac Odamtten, to restore calm.
Genesis of relationship
Madam Patamia told the Daily Graphic that her daughter had, over the past couple of years, been suffering from a recurring medical condition for which the family was unable to find a cure, after several hospital visitations.
"It was during one of our usual searches for a cure for her that we came across Pastor Mensah who promised to heal her, since the condition was spiritual," she said.
She emphasised that the pastor later requested that Mabel be made to move into the mission house, so that he could dedicate more time to praying for her.
"We agreed to his suggestion because at that time he had a wife who also resided in the mission house and we never anticipated he could, along the line, exploit Mabel sexually," Madam Patamia pointed out.
She indicated that later the pastor sent away his wife and subsequently started having sexual relations with Mabel on her (mother’s) blind side.
"When the issue came to our notice and we confronted him, he denied and suggested that his interest was to groom Mabel and marry her. She was then six months’ pregnant, but it was not noticeable due to her slender figure," she indicated.
She said later when the family realised that Mabel’s illness still persisted, they asked her to return home.
"It was on her return that we noticed some changes in her, and when we queried her, she confessed to being pregnant for Pastor Mensah, who had even had an ultra-scan carried out on her to determine the growth and gender of the foetus," she explained.
Madam Patamia explained that the family, armed with the information provided by Mabel, extended an invitation to Pastor Mensah, who admitted responsibility for the pregnancy and was fined GH¢1,000 after he had told the family that he intended to marry Mabel.
Pastor Mensah, she said, failed to pay the fine and also shirked his parental responsibilities during the pregnancy and after the birth of the baby.
"We fought him fiercely before he even attended a naming ceremony for the child a week ago," she pointed out.
Position of the law
The Registrar of the marriage registry, Mr Emmanuel Avenorgbor, however, told the Daily Graphic that the caveat posed by Madam Patamia and her daughter could not be allowed to hold because there was no legal marriage contract binding the pastor and Mabel.
"It is for this reason it was decided that the marriage be allowed to go on, while the Social Welfare negotiates for child maintenance claims for the young lady,” he said.
He indicated that Pastor Mensah, during a closed-door meeting, had accepted everything Madam Patamia had alleged in her complaint.
"At the two-hour closed-door meeting with Pastor Mensah and Madam Patamia’s family, it was agreed that a compromise be reached for the marriage to hold, since the pastor did not perform any customary rites on Mabel to warrant the cancellation of the marriage.
"Child maintenance issues were raised and we have decided to provide legal remedy for the young lady should the Pastor fail his obligations,” Mr Avenorgbor told the Daily Graphic.
He, however, said it had been decided that the marriage certificate be withheld until the Social Welfare Department investigated and resolved all differences between Pastor Mensah and Ms Patamia.
That, he explained, also included the welfare and upkeep of the newborn baby.
An obviously embarrassed Pastor Mensah, who admitted to the Daily Graphic that he had initially proposed to marry Mabel, said he was surprised by the action taken by the family to denigrate him.
"I'm totally devastated and cannot come to terms with events. I'm not in the right frame of mind to grant you further interviews on this issue," he stated.