Former Member of Parliament for Akwatia, Baba Jamal, has initiated a legal suit against the Ashanti Region Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Accra-based UTV following an allegation that he is neck-deep in illegal mining activities.
In his statement of claim, Mr Jamal also wants a declaration by the High Court that the allegations on Friday, April 28, 2017, by Bernard Antwi-Boasiako (Chairman Wontumi) that he (Mr Jamal) was deeply involved in galamsey in the Eastern Region were libelous.
In the writ dated May 18, the former MP wants the court to cause Chairman Wontumi and managers of UTV to pay GHȻ2 million in damages for defaming his person on a live broadcast.
The former MP also wants “an order that Defendants publish a retraction or an unqualified apology for the effective publication by [UTV] and other print and electronic media with equal prominence”.
During a live programme on the Twi-based television station, Mr Antwi-Boasiako stated that he has evidence that the former MP is among the big names said to be behind illegal mining activities in the country.
A campaign against illegal mining by the current NPP government is gaining traction amid fears the Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Peter Amewu, who is fronting the anti-illegal mining crusade, will lose steam because of the influential people involved in the practice.
Illegal mining has caused widespread environmental degradation and the pollution of key freshwater sources in the Eastern, Western and Ashanti regions.
According to Baba Jamal, who is himself a private legal practitioner, Mr Antwi-Boasiako’s allegations are false.
He describes Mr Antwi-Boasiako’s claims as “reckless, malicious and intended to and did, in fact, expose him to public ridicule, disdain, and opprobrium and tend to lower his hard-won reputation in the eyes of right-thinking members of society locally and internationally”.
UTV is joined to the suit because according to the aggrieved former National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP, while Chairman Wontumi was making the false allegations, his photograph and that of other individuals mentioned was “vividly displayed and made to accompany the story” by the TV station.
Mr Antwi-Boasiako has said he stands by his claim and is looking forward to proving his case in court.