The New Patriotic Party (NPP) Chairman for the
New Juaben North Constituency in the Eastern Region, Kwadwo Boateng-Agyemang,
has filed his statement of defence in a defamation suit against him and Adom FM
initiated by a former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Cocoa Board
(COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Opuni.
Mr. Boateng-Agyemang, in his defence statement,
denied all the claims contained in Dr. Opuni’s suit, stating that the plaintiff
would be put to strict proof.
It is the case of the NPP chairman that the
transcription of the purported defamatory words for which he had been sent to
court was taken out of context and Dr. Opuni failed to analyse the full
statement which would have placed it in context.
The former COCOBOD boss
sued Mr. Boateng-Agyemang over allegations of embezzlement of $400 million when
he headed the COCOBOD.
Dr. Opuni is claiming the NPP chairman defamed
him when he alleged that he (Opuni) withdrew the huge sums while he was in
charge of the COCOBOD.
Attached to the suit is Multimedia Group
Limited, operators of Adom TV, where the alleged defamatory statement was made.
Dr. Opuni, in his statement of claim, averred
that the defendant on Adom TV’s Badwan show stated that “meanwhile they have
spent all the money. As of 20th December 2016, Opuni withdrew almost $400
million … he claims he used part of the money to organize a press soiree and to
construct cocoa roads … I didn’t know that in Ghana two years after constructing
cocoa roads, dwarfs are able to lift and take away the roads.”
This, according to the plaintiff, is understood
to mean that he illegally withdrew $400 million from the coffers of COCOBOD.
Dr. Opuni is seeking general damages as well as
exemplary damages of GH¢20 million against the defendants, a retraction and
apology on Adom TV and its online platform with the same prominence given to
the alleged defamatory statement.
But Mr. Boateng-Agyemang, in his statement of
defence, has said his comment was fair and speaks to the facts of issues
happening in the country.
According to him, the interpretation of his
words and the innuendo alluded to by Dr. Opuni were “misplaced, over stretched
and ill-fitted in the context in which the defendant spoke.”
He said his discussions on the programme
related to what government had done better in the cocoa sector, and he gave a
historic performance of successive governments and concluded that the
Akufo-Addo government had done remarkably well compared to previous ones.
He avers that Dr. Opuni is not entitled to any of his claims as the instant suit is a calculated attempt to gag him from speaking on matters relating to Dr. Opuni’s time at COCOBOD.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak