Daily Guide To Appeal Asiedu Nketia GH¢256,000 Libel Case
Western Publications Limited, publishers of DAILY GUIDE, have hinted on appealing against a judgment involving an award of GH¢250,000 against it in a libel suit filed by Johnson Asiedu Nketia, General Secretary of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Yesterday, an Accra Fast-Track High Court, presided over by Justice N.M.C. Abodakpi, awarded GH¢250,000 in damages against the company after a long-drawn legal tussle between it and Mr. Asiedu Nketia, aka General Mosquito.
The judge, in awarding the damages, also ordered the defendants to retract the publication by apologizing to Mr. Asiedu Nketia – to be published four times on the front page of the newspaper.
Eric Osei Mensah, the lawyer who represented Western Publications in the suit, in a telephone conversation with DAILY GUIDE, claimed he and the other members of the defence team were yet to receive the official judgment, and if they did, they would study it and “advice ourselves.”
“…As it stands now, we have requested for a copy of the judgment. Once we get it, we will definitely study it and advise our clients accordingly. But my immediate reaction to the decision is that that definitely cannot be the end of the matter,” the counsel said.
He said, “It was supposed to be a proof of damage to reputation but nothing about that was said in the two-and-a-half hour judgment that was read.”
Justice N.M.C. Abodakpi, the younger brother of Dan Abodakpi, a former Minister of Trade under the NDC, awarded additional GH¢15,000 as cost for the NDC chief scribe.
The newspaper, in its publication of March 2, 2011 headlined: “Revealed! Asiedu Nketia’s Plush Mansions,” claimed he had built two plush mansions in Accra and Kumasi within a space of two years, but he felt defamed by the story and decided to seek redress in court.
The properties are located at Oyarifa in Accra and Daaban Panyin in the Ashanti regional capital.
The NDC General Secretary argued that the story portrayed him as “a greedy, opportunistic and dishonest person” who abused his office to wrongfully acquire those properties. He however, conceded that only one of the mansions (the one located at Oyarifa) belonged to him and denied the mansion located in Kumasi.
Interestingly, the two properties had the same architectural designs, built by the same architects and the same building contractor. DAILY GUIDE also gathered that the Kumasi property neither had documents covering it nor building permit.
Yesterday, General Mosquito was quoted on various media platforms saying that the owner of the Kumasi property, who happened to be his friend, had indicated to him that he was going to sell off the property due to the controversy surrounding it.
In court, the said owner of the Kumasi property failed to produce any document to back his ownership of it.
A controversy over the story emerged when DAILY GUIDE delved into widespread speculations over the ownership of some ‘mysterious’ mansions springing up all over prime locations in the country soon after the NDC assumed power in 2009.
The particular mansions were associated with Mr. Asiedu Nketia because residents claimed they did not know the owner of the building until they started seeing him frequenting the construction site when the work started.
In the heat of the speculations, Mr. Asiedu-Nketia refused to respond to direct enquiries made to him by this paper on the said properties.
Residents of Oyarifa told the paper that they were convinced the house belonged to him, given his frequent visits to the site.
‘Courtesy of a fool’
The NDC General Secretary claimed yesterday he was going to extract the money from Western Publications and use it to acquire a property which he intended to name, ‘Courtesy of a fool’ (‘Kwasia bi nti’).
Mr. Asiedu-Nketia, who addressed a press briefing after the ruling, said his decision to collect the money was to serve as a lesson to ‘recalcitrant media houses.’
For him, corruption was not the biggest problem in Ghana, but “it is more of dishonesty and lying,” and that “it can only be addressed if dishonesty and lying are made very expensive.”
He jointly and severally initiated the action against Western Publications Limited, the paper’s editor, Fortune Alimi, senior reporter Charles Takyi-Boadu and the paper’s Ashanti Regional Correspondent, Morgan Owusu.
Meanwhile, the management of Western Publications and the Editor have expressed great surprise at the judgment of Justice Abodakpi.
By Raphael Ofori-Adeniran