The Court of Appeal sitting in Kumasi has dismissed an application for stay of execution filed by Unicom Commodities Limited to stop Nyonkopa Cocoa Buying Company from executing a defamation suit the latter won against it.
Unicom was trying to stop Nyonkopa from going ahead to retrieve GH¢1.2 million the Kumasi High Court awarded it for reputational damages it suffered when the former caused a truckload of cocoa beans which had been graded, bagged and sealed, uniquely coded, way billed and certified by Quality Control Company, to be impounded by the police on allegation that the said beans belonged to it and were stolen by Nyonkopa.
The Court in a unanimous decision dismissed the application, describing it as “unmeritorious.”
The Court was presided over by Justice Mariana Owusu, with Justices Senyo Dzamefe and Mrs Margaret Welbourne as other members of the panel.
This was the second time the company applied for the stay of execution. The first was granted in part by the High Court that awarded the damages.
In granting the stay of execution in part, the court ordered Unicom to pay Nyonkopa GHC500,000.00 pending the outcome of the appeal against the first ruling which awarded the damages at the Court of Appeal.
In April this year, the High Court in Kumasi presided over by Justice Kofi Akrowiah found Unicom Commodities Limited liable for defaming Nyonkopa Cocoa Buying Company Limited, a subsidiary of Barry Callbaut, when it falsely reported to the police that Nyonkopa stole 600 bags of cocoa beans from its warehouse in Asumura in then Brong Ahafo Region and caused the police to arrest and impound the truck loaded with the said beans en route to Kaase Port in Kumasi.
The Court also awarded GHC40, 000.00 to the plaintiff as cost.
The said arrest was given prominent media coverage thus putting the name of Nyonkopa into disrepute and lowered it in the estimation of right-thinking members of society.
The Court held that the allegation of Unicom of cocoa beans belonging to it “having graded cocoa bags under the name of Nyonkopa Company Limited which has been found to be untrue is clearly defamatory on the face of it.”
According to the court, “there is no way cocoa graded and being sent to Tema can just be stopped and arrested under the circumstance without the involvement of the defendant. And indeed, it is the defendant who claimed ownership of the cocoa.”