17th November 2011
CAPITAL MALL BUILDING,
NEAR KWAME NKRUMAH CIRCLE,
ATTN: ATO KEELSON, EDITOR.
IN RE: RETRACTION AND APOLOGY FOR DEFAMATION PUBLICATION.
We write as solicitors for and on behalf of Honourable Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, Deputy Minister of Information (hereinafter called (“our client”), of Accra.
Our client has instructed us to formally lodge a complaint against the Today newspaper and by this letter we hereby so do.
Our client has noted with concern the calculated intention of the Today newspaper to excite and/ or cause public disaffection for our client by the deliberate publication of falsehoods of and concerning our client in its newspaper publications. It is however, just one of these publications which forms the subject matter of this complaint.
The publication in respect of which this complaint is made is on the front page of the Issue No. 201 Vol. No. 4 ISSN 0213-2542 Thursday Edition dated November 10, 2011 of the Today newspaper and continued at page 11 of the said paper. On the front page of the aforesaid newspaper referred to, it was published of and concerning our client under a headline intituled “North Tongu NDC parliamentary primary, ABLAKWA WOOS DELEGATES .With TV sets, computers, mobile phones, motor bikes, etc” that, our client was “scheming with all manner of unorthodox methods to woo delegates who will vote in the North Tongu parliamentary primary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC).” It was further published that despite a warning by the NDC General Secretary that ‘in areas where the party has a sitting MP” campaigning was not yet to start our client had “kick-started his campaign with some monetary inducements” and continued on page 11 of the paper that, “certain functionaries and activists of the NDC questioning the source of Ablakwa’s sudden wealth after only three years in government.” The publication also described “Mr. Ablakwa’s moves as dirty and mudslinging” having ‘”hired some serial callers … who have for the past weeks … pouring invectives to discredit and denigrate other aspirants” and further that “last minute Mafia and dirty tricks being adopted by Mr. Ablakwa and his men.”
With all due respect we find the aforesaid publication loathsome. By this publication, the aforesaid paper insinuates that not only has our client commenced his campaign in the North Tongu primary at the wrong time and in a wrongful manner but further that our client is campaigning using ill gotten funds. This kind of insinuation only serves to inflame passions and provide fodder for violent reactions during campaigning and as well during the elections themselves.
Indeed the mischief inherent in the publication is made even more obvious by the fact that the publication also insinuates that delegates of the North Tongu primary and particularly the youth are only very malleable but of low intelligence since they can easily be manipulated for any purpose, noble or mischievous. This kind of insinuation carries with it the danger of fuelling negative reactions at the time our client commences campaigning by exposing our client to public odium and ridicule the result being that persons who legitimately intend to vote for our client would be discouraged from so doing since by since doing they are apt to be thought of as stooges having no independent thought and/or discretion.
In our view the publication is particularly vicious because the Today newspaper cannot feign ignorance of the fact that our client being an integral part of the government is caught up in work involving his substantive ministry and as well attending Cabinet meetings moreover our client is actively engaged in the affairs of the NDC party. The decision by the Today newspaper to ignore these obvious truths and make false allegations against our client as to commencing campaigning prior to the time agreed upon by the NDC party and using various items to induce delegates while procuring persons to denigrate other candidates moreover insinuating that these acts were done by our client using moneys obtained by the wrongful means, deliberately created the misleading picture that our is shirking his civic, constitutional and political obligations and commitment to the state , the NDC party and the people of Ghana just for his person ambition. Our client does not and has never engaged in the practices suggested in the publication.
Whereas our client respects the right to freedom of expression enshrined in our Constitution, we wish to state that our client takes grave exception to the allegations made against him in the said article for so many reasons. To suggest that our client is not worthy of the trust reposed in him by the president of Ghana and its people but that he is also a criminal, corruption being a criminal offence in Ghana. Such suggestions constitute a substantial danger to the reputation of our client as a trusted Minister of State and as well in his future endeavours to become a member of parliament representing the North Tongu constituency. Indeed the publication is actually defamatory of our client.
By reason of the foregoing, our client has instructed us to make the following demands which we hereby do, that:
(i) the Today newspaper publish a retraction of and an unqualified apology for unjustifiable stating that our client had bribed delegates and hired serial callers to… denigrate other parliamentary candidates.
(ii) the said apology be published with unmistakable prominence in the Today newspaper.
(iii) an undertaking be given by the editor of the Today newspaper either acting by himself or through any other person or persons to refrain from making any or further baseless and unfounded allegations against our client especially allegations and/or utterances which have the effect of impugning our client’s integrity and character.
Our client requires that you comply with the above demands within seven (7) days of receipt of this letter failing which our client would take any further and necessary action against the publishers of Today newspaper and all persons involved in the aforesaid publication.
Be advised accordingly.
DERY & CO.
(Legal Practitioners, Consultants & Notaries Public)
Cc: HONOURABLE SAMUEL OKUDZETO ABLAKWA,
DEPUTY MINISTER OF INFORMATION,