By Our Court Correspondent

The member of Parliament for Assin Central on the ticket of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Kennedy Ohene Agyapong has been ordered by an Accra High Court presided over by Her Ladyship Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, to retract the defamatory statements he made against Abdul Malik Kweku Baako on various media platforms/networks, namely; Net 2 TV, Oman FM, Adom TV and Asempa FM between July and September 2018. Mr. Agyapong is also to render an unqualified apology to Abdul Malik Kweku Baako. 

“The Defendant is hereby ordered, within thirty(30) days of this judgment,  to publish on three consecutive occasions, on the same platforms that he published the defamatory words, an unqualified retraction and an apology, with the same prominence as given to the issuance of the defamatory words against the plaintiff “,  Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe ordered.

She continued: “An order of perpetual injunction is hereby granted restraining the Defendant, his agents, assigns and servants from further publishing any defamatory words against the plaintiff”.

Damages were assessed at One Hundred Thousand Ghana Cedes(GH¢100,000 and cost assessed at Thirty Thousand Ghana Cedis(GH¢ 30,000).

Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe noted that the Court had adjourned the case for lengthy periods to allow for reconciliation but the Defendant (Kennedy Agyapong) “failed to take advantage of it, despite having been served with the evidence to be used by the Court”.

“To speak evil of anyone unless there is unequivocal proofs of their deserving it, is an injury for which there is no adequate reparation”, underscored Justice Afia Asare-Botwe.

Abdul Malik Kweku Baako initiated the defamation suit against Mr. Kennedy Agyapong on 16th of October, 2018 after the Assin Central Member of Parliament, had persistently used the listed media platforms to level a host of defamatory allegations against him (Abdul Malik Kweku Baako) without providing a shred of evidence to substantiate the allegations.

Abdul Malik Kweku Baako, in his Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim, prayed the Court to grant him the following reliefs:

“(a): A declaration that the statements made by the Defendant in both Twi and English Language which is fully transcribed in English indorsed on the writ of summons by way of an attachment and particularized on the attachment with the listed media platforms and publication dates and also repeated in paragraphs 9, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 20 and 22 of the Statement of Claim are defamatory. 

(b): An order of the Court directed at the Defendant to publish on three consecutive occasions, on the same platforms that he published the defamatory words, an unqualified retraction and an apology, with the same prominence as given to the issuance of the defamatory words against the Plaintiff.

(c): An order of the Court for perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant, his agents, assigns and servants from further publishing any defamatory words against the Plaintiff. 

(d): General Damages for the sum of Twenty-Five Million Ghana Cedis(GH¢ 25, 000 000) Ghana Cedis for defamation. 

(e): Exemplary Damages for malicious conduct of the Defendant in defaming the Plaintiff. 

(f): Costs including legal fees and 

(g): Any other orders as this Honourable Court may deem fit.”

It was Abdul Malik Kweku Baako’s case that statements made by Defendant to the effect that he(Baako) was involved in illegal mining and galamsey activities; had secretly recorded the President,  H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, for purposes of blackmailing him(President); had the habit of collecting bribes from potential presidential/ministerial appointees  before they are endorsed for appointments by the President; that he(Baako), Anas and their lawyer(Mr. Egbert Faibille) were evil guys and corrupt with the intent of collapsing the NPP government(referencing the suit filed in the Supreme Court by Baako challenging the  basis for the removal of Charlotte Osei from office as the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission) among other wildcat allegations, were completely false, malicious and defamatory! 

Given the opportunity in a Court of Law, the Defendant (Mr. Kennedy Agyapong) was found wanting as he was unable to provide a shred of evidence to substantiate his defamatory words against the Plaintiff (Baako).

One of his principal witnesses, Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation who the Defendant had subpoenaed to appear in court to testify on his behalf, was a “no show” as the Defendant and his lawyer informed the court in the course of the proceedings that they had opted to dispense with his (Frimpong-Boateng’s) much anticipated testimony.

Prior to that development, the Defendant during his cross-examination by the Plaintiff’s Counsel, had told the Court that Professor Frimpong-Boateng was afraid to come to Court to testify because the Plaintiff had threatened him.

“….There have been several publications by the Plaintiff scaring and threatening the Minister (for Lands and Natural Resources@Peter Amewu) from his own paper. Anybody who touched C & G Aleska,  he was there to threaten them and also threatened the NPP Chairman and has also threatened Professor Frimpong-Boateng and that is why he is afraid to come to court. He (Frimpong-Boateng) has been calling people to intercede between the Plaintiff and I to settle it out of court because he (Baako) has threatened him. I will not lie for anybody”, Kennedy Agyapong disclosed during his cross-examination on 19th March, 2020.

In assessing the Defendant’s claims relative to the preceding paragraph, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe noted “Further   the evidence of the Defendant was that the Plaintiff had interfered with the work of the Minister for Environment, Science and Innovation, the venerable Prof. Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, who was listed to be a witness in this trial.  After several adjournments, the Defendant opted not to exercise the right to call him as a witness anymore. In my view, one cannot make allegations of the nature in this cause and fail to call the material witness who was supposed to have been the victim of interference and threats and the very source of the information”.

“The case of the Defendant is also not helped by the fact of abandoning the intended attendance of his subpoenaed witness, the Minister for Environment, Science and Innovation who had charge of the entire vexing matter of Galamsey, who was involved and how to end it”, emphasized Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe in her judgment delivered on 26th June, 2020.

The Court also established that Mr. Kennedy Agyapong had been unable to show that Abdul Malik Kweku Baako had an interest in C & G Aleska by way of ownership or directorship. Mr. Agyapong was also unable to show that Baako instructed the alleged illegal activity of the company.

“Further,  the Defendant has been unable to show the alleged Police interference which resulted in a serious verbal exchange between the Plaintiff and the NPP Chairman because the Plaintiff wanted the Chairman to kowtow to his instructions and allow C & G Aleska Company to go back to site and continue the illegal activities.  In fact, the conversation between the Plaintiff and DW2 (NPP Amenfi East Constituency Chairman, Nana Kwaku Bedu) which was played in this Court was cordial, anything but a serious verbal exchange between the Plaintiff and the said NPP Chairman. The entire recording was rather to verify from DW2 whether he was involved in Galamsey or illegal mining and to find out why he and others had allegedly gone to set properties ablaze at the C & G Aleska site. There was no intervention on behalf of  C & G Aleska by the Plaintiff,  neither was there any indication in the conversation that indicated that he had a particular interest in C & G Aleska. The conversation was not actually what it was touted to be per the pleadings or in the statements made in the media house”.

Recalling that Nana Kwaku Bedu had sought to impeach the recording during his cross-examination on 14th May,   2020, by insisting that it had been doctored, the judge noted that “Bearing in mind that the Defendant had had  the said exhibit since it was filed in March 2019, I find that the Defence had ample opportunity to have assessed the recording,  but it looked to me , when the recording was played that it was the first time the witness or indeed,  Counsel for the Defendant had taken the trouble to listen to it. That was their bane”.

“The Defendant had undertaken to bring in evidence a police report to corroborate this but he failed to do so. Rather, he produced a statement which makes no reference to the Plaintiff”, added the judge.

The judge underscored that there was no question that the recording(Exhibit J) contained any evidence of intervention from Abdul Malik Kweku Baako to Nana Kwaku Bedu,  asking the latter to release any Chinese national linked to C & G Aleska.

“Further, there is no evidence of a police report indicating that there was any arrest at the time that the DW2 (Nana Kwaku Bedu) was stating.  Bearing in mind that the Defendant depended heavily on Wassa Amenfi Chairman, his evidence was to say the least, crucial to the case of the Defendant.  What testimony he rendered adversely affected the convicted stance of the Defendant”, emphasized the judge.

In relation to the Defendant’s allegation that the Plaintiff (Baako) had secretly recorded the President during the presentation of Tiger Eye’s Investigative Documentary dubbed “Number 12” to him (President) in his private residence in 2018, the Court after assessing the answers provided by the Defendant during his cross-examination on 19th March, 2020, ruled that “Clearly then, to have made the statement that the President was recorded secretly was uninformed and false.  That was the basis for the assertion that the Plaintiff is ‘not a saint’. The Defendant pleads justification, but clearly, from the law and the evidence, including his own concession or admission before this Court, that defence will not avail him

 

“In the circumstances, it is held on issues (b), (c), and (d) that;

*The publication made by the Defendant on 24th July. 2018 about the Plaintiff on Adom TV is defamatory;

*The publication made by the Defendant on 24th July, 2018 about the Plaintiff on Oman FM is defamatory, and 

*The publication made by the Defendant on 21st August, 2018 about the Plaintiff on Asempa FM is defamatory”.

Stay tuned for the publication of the full transcript of the records of proceedings of this case, especially the testimony and cross-examination of the Defendant (Kennedy Agyapong), member of Parliament for Assin Central on the ticket of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP) and his “star witness”(DW2), Nana Kwaku Bedu, the Chairman of the NPP Amenfi East Constituency in subsequent editions of The New Crusading GUIDE!

 

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