Ghana’s deputy minister of Trade and Industry, Kofi Osei Ameyaw filed a suit against The Insight, a tri- weekly Privately-owned newspaper and two other pro-opposition newspapers, Ghana Palaver and Ghanaian Democrat in an Accra High Court for allegedly defaming him. The deputy minister is seeking damages of two billion Cedis (approximately US$225,000) and a court order restraining the newspapers from further publishing damaging stories about him.
The Insight newspaper in five editions carried front page interviews with Margaret Agyepong, a former business partner of the minister, in which the lady consistently accused Minister Osei Ameyaw of using her as a conduit to supply cocaine to a Ghanaian company, Pointer Ltd for onward export to Germany. She also alleged that the minister took her to a shrine where her tooth was extracted for ritual purposes to ensure that the ruling New Patriotic Party stays in power as long as she lived. The Ghana Palaver and the Ghanaian Democrat, the other two, pro-opposition bi-weekly newspapers published various issues of their newspapers.
The editor of The Insight, Peter Kojo Apisawu told Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) that his newspaper had no intention of damaging the deputy minister’s reputation. He said the stories were written in conformity with the newspapers style of carrying all sides of issues. “We contacted the minister several times and I personally telephoned him to get his side of the story. I made sure I reported whatever he told me. So he cannot say we have been unfair to him. I can’t accept that”, he stressed. On his part, the editor of the Ghana Palaver, Ekow Essumang said on a radio station that the minister failed to respond to all requests for his version. MFWA notes with great concern the speed with which public officials resort the use of the law courts to seek redress for alleged civil libel, rather than using the arbitration avenues within the regulatory avenues (National Media Commission).MFWA is also alarmed at the high damages being sort by these individuals.