The case involving Noah Narh Dameh, the Deputy Station Coordinator of Radio Ada, who is being prosecuted on charges of publishing false news, will now be decided through Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR).
Noah Dameh is on trial for allegedly publishing fake news about a business mogul, Daniel McKorley, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the McDan Group of Companies which has been given a controversial lease in the Ada Songhor area of the Greater Accra Region of Ghana.
This ADR decision was adopted by the presiding judge of the Tema Magistrate Court, Benedicta Antwi when the lawyer of the accused person maintained that the prosecutor must officially serve the accused counsel with the Police Investigator’s caution statement on the docket.
During case management on Monday, July 31, 2023, it was found that the charge sheet was not dated on the docket.
The Police Prosecutor, Chief Inspector S. Oppong pleaded with the judge for time to file it.
“I want to seek a leave to amend …”, to which Baffour Gyawu Bonsu Ashia, lawyer for the accused, raised no issue, allowing proceedings must continue.
The Judge again found that the Police investigator’s caution statement was not on the docket. The prosecutor acknowledged and prayed for time to get it filed.
But Lawyer Baffour Gyawu insisted that the counsel of the accused must be officially served as the case has the tendency to take away the liberty of the accused.
The Prosecutor pleaded with the court to allow the accused [Noah Dameh] to come to the Tema Regional Police Command for his caution statement to be retaken. However, the Judge objected, stating that Noah is on bail and will not be allowed to go to any police station.
The Judge ordered the prosecution to file the supplementary affidavit with respect to the investigator’s caution statement, and subsequently referred the case to ADR for an attempt at settlement.
“I am referring the case to the Alternative Resolution Centre to be resolved amicably by the parties,” the Presiding Judge Benedicta Antwi said referencing the Court Act.
She also gave 30 days for the parties to agree on a decision of settlement, failing which the court will set a date for the trial of the case. The decision is in accordance with Sections 73 and 75 of the Court Act 1973 (Act 459), which recommends an amicable approach to resolving non-felony offences that are not aggravated in nature.
The case has been adjourned to August 28, 2023, for the parties to update the court on the outcome of the ADR.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) will continue to follow the case closely, and we hope for a favourable outcome from the ADR that will enable Dameh to go back to his broadcasting duties in peace.
Noah Narh Dameh, a journalist who doubles as the Deputy Station Coordinator of Radio Ada, Ghana’s premier community radio station is facing prosecution at the Tema Magistrate Court for publishing false news.
The charges relate to a post he made on his Facebook wall, in which he alleged that some Chiefs of Ada and Daniel McKorley, founder of Electrochem Ghana Limited (EGL), a subsidiary of the McDan Group were sidelining indigenous salt miners in Ada.
The post, dated May 8, 2022, included a picture of Daniel McKorley alongside a young man in police custody who was handcuffed to a hospital bed and an allegation that the victim was being abused by the police over his activism against the Electrochem salt mining monopoly. This post attracted the displeasure of Mr. McKorley, who subsequently reported it to the police.
In December 2022, Noah Dameh was discharged by the Tema Magistrate Court for lack of jurisdiction. However, moments after leaving the courtroom, he was re-arrested by the police and granted police enquiry bail.
The case was revived on March 30, 2023, when the accused was arrested and detained for a week, a decision that his lawyer said had completely surprised him. Subsequently, he was granted bail with a GHC60,000 condition.
Noah Dameh has since been appearing in court with his lawyer until July when his lawyer missed court. A bizarre twist occurred on July 3, 2023, during the proceedings, as the presiding judge accused Noah Dameh of impersonating himself, threatening to issue a bench warrant for his arrest.
The confusion arose when the journalist removed his face mask, and the judge failed to recognise him.
On March 30, 2023, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) petitioned Ghana’s Attorney General to intervene and bring an end to the prosecution of the journalist.
The case has been keenly followed by Ghanaian media actors who have expressed concern about the criminal trial of a journalist for false publication, despite the repeal of criminal libel. On April 10, 2023, the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), the Ghana Journalists Association, together with the broadcast and print media owners’ groups, organised a press conference to demand the repeal of the law on false publication.