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Godfried Yeboah Dame and Egbert FaibilleAnas Aremeyaw Anas, the New Crusading Guide investigative journalist, suffered yet another jolt at the ongoing defamation battle between him and Mrs. Evelyn Ankumah, boss of the Working Girls Fitness Centre when an Accra Fast Track High Court Judge, Justice A.K. Ofori-Atta, threw out his motion to set aside the writ of summons served on him.

The judge in his ruling on the motion, upheld the submission of Godfred Yeboah Dame, counsel for Mrs Evelyn Ankumah, the plaintiff who is also Executive Director of Africa Legal Aid, that Mr. Dame had sufficiently complied with the rules of the court so there was no reason why the writ should be set aside. No costs were awarded.

Earlier, Egbert Faibille, who moved the motion, stated that counsel for the plaintiff did not include his name in the writ of summons but the name of the law firm where he works, a move he claimed was contrary to the rules of court.

He said the rules require that the name of counsel for plaintiff as well as his address be included in the writ, adding that the name Akuffo Addo, Prempeh and Co., where Mr. Dame works is not the name of an individual legal practitioner so the writ should be set aside as being offensive to the court.

However, Mr. Dame described the submission of Mr. Faibille as an abuse of the court process and said the legal profession act does not regulate the manner in which a writ issued by a lawyer ought to be commenced.

Counsel for the plaintiff was of the opinion that it was the high court civil rules which governs the manner in which an action ought to be commenced, and said in this case, the name of the law firm and address of the counsel for plaintiff was all that mattered in the filing of a writ of this nature.

In addition, he also said the motion was a deliberate attempt to delay the court, and that insisting that his full name should have been added was an invention of the rules.
He subsequently prayed the court to dismiss the motion and the court upheld his submission.     

This second blow in the defence of the reporter comes just two weeks after Mr. Dame raised preliminary objection on their motion leading to the trial Judge telling counsel for the defendants that they had defects in their motion which could be cured by filing a supplementary affidavit and awarded costs of GH¢400 against them.

The plaintiff filed a writ against the defendants, Kwaku Baako Media Limited, publishers of the New Crusading Guide and Aremeyaw, after the reporter alleged in one of their March 2009 editions that Mrs. Ankumah was the brain behind shadowy activities behind the wellness centre.   

Justice Ofori-Atta on the last hearing date warned the investigative reporter to stop publishing further defamatory stories about the Working Girl Wellness Centre and its director pending the determination of an application for interlocutory injunction filed by her.

Before the action could even commence, counsel for the defendants sought  to move a motion asking for the court to set aside the writ of summons issued by the Plaintiff as being offensive to law.

Mr. Yeboah Dame, even before the motion could be heard, raised a preliminary objection to the propriety of defendants’ motion and pointed out to the court that the motion had failed to disclose the particulars of the offensiveness to law of the writ issued by Mrs. Akumah or the grounds on which the defendants sought to set aside the writ of summons.

Counsel for plaintiff noted it was not permissible in terms of the rules of the court for defendants not to disclose to the court the exact grounds on which they wanted to rely to set aside the writ of summons.

Mr. Dame further noted that the essence of the defendants’ failure to indicate the specific grounds on which they were asking the court to set aside the writ of summons was a deliberate attempt to spring a surprise on the court, an act which the court ought not to countenance.

The case has been adjourned to May 10 2009.

By Fidelia Achama