It was a Saturday morning with nothing unusual about it. Just another weekend for the indigenes of Mentukwa who were going about their normal duties.
The force, having been drawn from the Anti Human Trafficking Unit of the Ghana Police Service led by Superintendent of Police, Patience Quaye and officers from the Ashanti Regional Command were on their way, lead investigator Anas Aremeyaw Anas (the newly discipled Joseph Jesus Christ) was in the camp giving directions and edicts to the force; Mentukwa was taking its last breath.
When the Police team numbering about 30, both plain clothed and uniformed men and women reached Mentukwa, people in the town were visibly wondering at what could be the reason for that unusual occurrence in their village.
It did not take long for them to find out, that team tiger, led by Anas Aremeyaw Anas and the Ghana Police service, were there to close down the Adventist Pilgrims Prayer Camp. A majority of them expressed their joy at the idea, stating that the secrecy of the group was fishy and their beliefs were also weird.
The police team arrived at ‘mainland’ Mentukwa in the forenoon but were awaiting a signal to cordon off the camp and then proceed with the raid. Within the camp it was a day of worship [the Holy Sabbath] and disciples were all in church.
The church service begun as early as 7 am, the service had begun and as is normal with the church, we all had to be seated on pews and wait for the church leaders who were going to deliver the main sermon.
After a while, Prophetess Helen Jesus Christ, Pastor Paul Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene Jesus Christ walked in and took their places in front of the congregation.
The service began with singing of praises, tones kept at a very low tempo. At any given point, we had to kneel, bow, prostrate or respond to chants of ‘Maranatha,’ whenever a leader required us to.
The sermon for the day was being delivered by prophetess Helen Jesus Christ when the police team were signalled to come in. The congregation remained seated in a nonchalant manner upon sighting the police.
One could not tell whether they were surprised or confused. Their calmness in the face of policemen holding guns was both gripping and bizarre. To them, the presence of the police was a ‘rude’ interruption of their church service.
The only people who looked disturbed were the two blind members who wanted to know what was going on as interaction between some officers and the church members went on.
Acting as a spokesperson for the group, prophetess Helen Jesus Christ defended their actions as being of God and that they had done nothing against the law – not even when they were denying children education, beating members or forcibly marrying off a 13 year old girl.
Asked whether they were waiting for the Lord, she answered in the affirmative and added that their seclusion was based on their resolve to better worship God and to await the coming of the savior- Jesus Christ.
After initial exchanges, the police informed prophetess Helen and her disciples that they were going to be sent to the police station for further questioning, a position that they obliged to.
They would however request that they are allowed to pack a few belongings to go with. Each person wrapped a few personal belongings in a cloth and headed for the exit of the camp amidst singing of church songs.
DESCRIPTION OF THE CAMP
The whole camp was built with mud with the roofing made of thatch. The doors were made of mat except for one room that had a wooden door.
A typical room had a mat and a basket that contained belongings of the inhabitants of the room, earthenware pots or plates, gourds and calabashes most of which were broken.
In some rooms, you could see school uniforms and shoes littered all over. An inescapable sight in the room of the young disciples, Job Jesus Christ, Noah Jesus Christ and John Jesus Christ was giant wall posters of Jesus Christ.
The camp had a wooden door with thick foliage and green lush herbage serving as the demarcation. Beyond the demarcated area were their farms, from where everything they ate was harvested.
Planted on a large scale were some leaves which according to prophetess Helen Jesus Christ were used normally to treat any ailment that members had. This accounted for the reason why they did not patronize orthodox medication.
LEAVING THE CAMP BEHIND
As the police team led them out of the camp into the waiting bus, people in Mentukwa gathered to watch members of the camp. Many expressing sentiments that; “Mentukwa is better off without strange people like this.”
Reality seemed to dawn on a number of the disciples as they got on board the waiting police bus, yet prophetess Helen Jesus Christ remained bullish and continued to raise the morale of the members by telling them intermittently not to worry.
They started singing and continued it on their way to Kumasi and subsequently to Accra. Occasionally, a member walked to the back of the bus, looked at the police convoy in which they were being led and returned to tell the others about how long the convoy was.
At Kumasi, the regional commander, ACP Augustine Gyening and his team were present to ask a few questions of the group and throughout the questioning, the leadership of the camp maintained that they were only living the ideal life in waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ. It was in Kumasi that police took statements of the leaders of the church. Most male members wrote down their statements themselves.
REFUSAL TO EAT
The team arrived at the Police Headquarters in Accra at sunset. They were met on arrival by the Minister for Gender and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur, who had received information on the issue.
She was at the Police Headquarters with a team to get first hand information on the activities of the group and to also ensure that issues relative to their shelter were taken care of.
But before that, the minister and the police team had the task of convincing members to eat. With a background that they were vegetarians, food prepared for them was without pepper and meat, yet they refused to eat.
According to the leaders ‘maggi cubes’ that were used in the preparation of such foods were not good for their health, and no amount of coaxing could persuade either children or adults to back down on the refusal to eat.
Eventually, the kids were separated from their parents. Away from the eyes of their parents, seven children ate 25 packs of rice and vegetables that had been prepared for the entire membership of the church.
Meanwhile, their parents were still adamant about food. They later relaxed their stand and asked for wheat bread which could not be provided due to the fact that it was quite late and most shops were closed.
They were offered kenkey instead and they accepted to eat on condition that they wanted all ingredients to be brought for them to prepare the pepper themselves. The Minister subsequently arranged for separate shelters for the kids and adults.