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17.02.2007 General News

Presidential Aide Drags Chronicle to Court

By chronicle

A PRESIDENTIAL Aide at the seat of government has launched a legal battle against General Portfolio Limited, Publishers of The Chronicle, an Accra-based private Newspaper, for defamation at an Accra Fast Track Court (FTC) demanding punitive damages.

Alongside the publishers in the suit of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) big shot, Tommy Amematekpor, are: the Acting Editor of The Chronicle, Mr. J. Ato Kobbie and Kofi Amponsah, the author of an article headlined 'Johnson Avulete's Castle Meeting On DCEs,' the subject matter of the suit, as co-defendants.

According to the plaintiff, the article published in the December 6, 2006 edition of The Chronicle contained false and disparaging materials about him and in the process injured his reputation earned over the years as a Presidential Aide.

Mr. Amematekpor, in his suit dated January 22, 2007, is therefore claiming jointly and severally against the defendants, in addition to punitive damages, an exemplary compensation for libel.

Furthermore, plaintiff is demanding an order of the court to perpetually restrain the defendants and each of them by themselves, servants or agents from publishing any further defamatory articles about him.

Other claims requested for include an apology and "retraction of the story, giving the same prominence as the banner heading under which the story was carried including other orders deemed fit by the court.

In his statement of claim, plaintiff is complaining of sections of the article that read: "during the selection process, it was widely rumoured that a lot of money had changed hands as part of the selection process" as well as "the Sanhedrin is made up of Mr. Kojo Mpiani, Tommy Amematekpor, a presidential hanger-on of no specific description and Ken Nuworsu, the NPP Chairman for the Volta Region. These are the very people who are tainted by the allegation. In effect, the President has constituted a court in which the judges are the prosecution as well as the jury."

To the plaintiff, the words complained of meant that he together with other persons were engaged in acts of corruption and "guilty of extorting money from potential District Chief Executives (DCE's) for the purpose of offering them appointments as DCEs."

Plaintiff further held that the words in the publication complained of described him as "a person who sticks to the President or the castle for personal gains, a sycophant or flatterer" with the 3rd defendant referring to him and others as 'Wretched Men.'

Mr. Amematekpo was of the general view that the said words referred to, meant he and others were, 'distraught, unfortunate, distressingly bad, despicable and worthless,' and portrayed him as 'a dictator and an enemy of freedom of speech.'

Plaintiff has consequently denied ever attending any meeting at the castle with the said Avulete as mentioned in The Chronicle publication and for that matter had been ridiculed, with his reputation severely damaged in the estimation of right thinking members of the society.