We reproduce below a rejoinder from Thomas K. Aubyn & Associates, solicitors of a traditional council in the Central Region, to the GNA story: “Chief Dies in Valentine Encounter with Concubine”
“We act for an on behalf of the ………Traditional Council.
“There has been a provocative and malicious publication in the Tuesday 17th February 2009 Edition of the Daily Graphic Captioned “Chief Dies In Valentine Encounter” attributed to the GNA of which said story has been widely published in both the electronic and the print media.
“This news was carried on in almost all the major radio stations in Accra and beyond. It is even on the Ghana web and it is true to say that this story is well known across the whole world due to the Internet.
“Indeed since you carelessly and recklessly published this new item our clients have received embarrassing telephone calls from Ghana and beyond.
“Let me place it on record that I personally and indeed my clients believe in the freedom and independence of the Media as provided in the Articles 162 and 163 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic of Ghana.
“However the Media is enjoined to operate within the confines of Article 164 of the same Constitution which states that “The provisions of Articles 162 and 163 of the Constitution are subject to the laws that are reasonably required in the interest of national security, public order, public morality and for the purpose of protecting the reputation, rights and freedoms of other persons”.
“We must emphasize that even the dead have a right to their dignity and reputation.
“Indeed our client has instructed us to inform you that the story you carried is false and malicious in all material details.
“You will have to answer these questions if indeed the publication was made in good faith.
1. Who informed your reporter that the said Paramount Chief informed the wife that he was going to a meeting on the Valentine day?
2. Did your reporter crossed check this piece of information with the wife who was available and easy for your reporter to do so?
3. Was it the wife who told your reporter that the husband told her that he was going to a meeting?
4. Was that source present when the said Paramount Chief was telling the wife that he was going to a meeting?
“At this point we do not have instructions to tell you what really happened because of custom and more importantly the fact that the issue is under investigations.
“Let me emphasize that the Police confirming that an incident has occurred does not make the details of what you carelessly and recklessly put with the public domain the truth.
“We will wait for the outcome of the Police investigations before we come out with the facts as is really the truth because we want to make the Police investigations credible and acceptable.
“Indeed let me inform you that there are numerous chieftaincy problems in the paramouncy and that it is our prayer that you do not carelessly stray into it as the Traditional Council is determined to amicably resolve all such disputes out of Court.
“We will seriously urge you and indeed all media houses which have carried this story to retract same and publish this letter and give it the same prominence that you did to the story which has affected the image of the whole chieftaincy institution in Ghana.
“And thereafter we will also urge all press houses to humbly put to rest this story at least for the meantime.”
GNA stands by it original story because it was truthful and not malicious. It published in good faith and for the public good. People who were around heard the wife of the deceased making those disclosures when she was wailing upon hearing of the death of the husband.
GNA was not careless and reckless but exercised circumspection by displaying sensitivity to the customary practice of the people and thus withheld the name of the traditional area and the chief concerned.
GNA left out the graphics of the state the deceased and the woman were found in because of decency. GNA unlike other media houses is a statutory organisation mandated to report on events that it finds newsworthy. It is enjoined to educate the people on practices that could harm them and also to uphold public morality.
The 1992 Constitution in Article 162 (2) sates:” Subject to this Constitution and any other law