General News of Wednesday, 26 July 2017
Hackman Owusu-Agyemang, Board Chairman of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), has won a defamation suit brought against Michael Dokosi, Managing Editor of Daily Post newspaper, Giraffe Publications, publishers of the newspaper and Haruna Mahama, a National Democratic Congress (NDC) activist.
The Accra High Court (General Jurisdiction Division) yesterday held that the publications made by the 1st Defendant (Haruna Mahama) on his Facebook timeline on July 23, 2015, that Mr Owusu-Agyemang was the one who recorded a meeting in former President Kufuor’s house and leaked same and further published by the Daily Post, was defamatory.
It would be recalled that in the heat of the internal wrangling in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) ahead of the 2016 elections, President Kufuor brokered a peace deal in his house with some religious leaders in attendance, and part of the discussions was leaked to the media.
Haruna then posted on his Facebook wall alleging that it was leaked by Mr Owusu-Agyemang.
Delivering the judgement, Justice Afua Aryine said the publication by Dokosi injured the person of Mr. Owusu-Agyemang, and as a result, awarded damages of GH¢800,000 against the defendants, instead of GH¢5 million the plaintiff had asked for.
The judge also ordered Daily Post – a pro-NDC newspaper – to publish within two weeks on its front page a banner headline retracting the story and apologizing to the COCOBOD Chairman.
Justice Aryine ordered Mr Haruna Mahama to retract and apologize for his statement within two weeks on his Facebook timeline and leave it there for a week.
Mr Owusu-Agyemang, who held several ministerial posts in President Kufuor’s government, was also asking the court for an order of perpetual injunction to restrain the defendants from further writing, printing and publishing any words and statements defamatory of him.
According to the statement of claim, Mr Owusu-Agyemang averred that on July 23, Mr Mahama falsely and with intent to damage his hard-earned reputation, wrote on his Facebook wall – a social media platform – the headline, “Mr Agyemang leaks audio of meeting at Kufuor’s house.”
Plaintiff said the motive of the defendants was perhaps to embarrass former President Kufuor.
The posting on the same Facebook wall also accused Mr Owusu-Agyemang of being the source of the Osafo-Maafo recording and leakage of information in the NPP.
The defamatory statement, according to Mr Owusu-Agyemang’s lawyer, Yoni Kulendi, was also published and given a more disparaging wording by the second defendants (Daily Post) in its Volume 5, issue No.1500, Friday, July 24 edition with a front page headline, “Leaked tape of secret meeting in Kufuor’s house, Haruna fingers Hackman……’’
According to the statement of claim, the Daily Post went on to publish that “Hackman is not only the one who leaked the tape, but is also the one distributing it.”
Consequently, the plaintiff averred that his reputation and his role as a senior member of the NPP, as well as his relationship with the former president had seriously been undermined by the publication.