Defamation Rides On Disclaimers

Martin Kpebu


Something is happening on our media landscape that requires that legal brains explain it to laymen and women. Media practitioners, especially those on television have tried to use the disclaimer to run away from responsibility in the event that their guests defame the reputations of others, particularly perceived opponents.

We have been wondering which journalism lectures taught these media men and women that a disclaimer absolves them from any damage. It is common to find television stations indicating that the views expressed by their panelists are not their views, forgetting that they gave the platform to such people to communicate to the rest of the world. These television stations must go back to the classroom for very basic knowledge in journalism and especially shortly after Ghana hosted the African Media Convention, such reorientation is an imperative.

Our readers must be wondering why we decided to open our discussion today on this misnomer or otherwise by the country’s television networks. We are doing so just to draw the attention of these television stations to the landmines and booby traps that await them if they do not mend their ways.

And because of the false beliefs these television stations have in these disclaimers as safeguards against legal suits, they have allowed certain personalities, who should know better, to run down the reputations of others in the name of media freedom.

We all cherish media freedom, especially from our history, and our attempts to resist oppressors’ rule, including the era of “shit bomb”.  Some of our compatriots have just decided to abuse media freedom and the right to free expression. The roll call includes Martin Luther Kpebu, a lawyer, Professor Ransford Gyampo, a Political Science lecturer, Sammy Gyamfi, the Communication Officer of the opposition NDC and also a lawyer and a host of other NDC apparatchiks and their allies in the media space, who when offered the opportunity to contribute to nation building would rather resort to smearing their opponents.

Listen to Martin Kpebu, Ransford Gyampo and Sammy Gyamfi on their favourite television stations such as UTV, Joy News and TV3, and all they spend the precious time to do is to launch attacks on the person of the President, his family and friends.

We felt sad last Friday when UTV called Martin Luther Kpebu to share his thoughts about the process of impeachment against the Special Prosecutor, Kissi Agyebeng. We had expected the lawyer to educate us about the legal basis of the impeachment action initiated by Martin Amidu, the foundation Special Prosecutor. Instead, he used that platform to display his avowed hatred for President Akufo-Addo, Cecilia Dapaah and the NPP that he never misses the opportunity to call corrupt.

It is sad that a lawyer who claims to be of high standing and knows that by the country’s jurisprudence, nobody is a criminal until he or she is proven guilty by a court, he has established the guilt of Cecilia Dapaah. For what offence, perhaps only Martin Luther Kpebu, knows.

This lawyer wants us to believe that he is an impartial commentator on national issues. He even alleges the long arm of the President in the impeachment process.

We never heard Martin Luther Kpebu, raise issues with Kissi Agyebeng when he decided to try Cecilia Dapaah in the media instead of presenting his case with the facts and evidence before the court.

To Martin Luther Kpebu, a lawyer, Cecilia Dapaah is a corrupt person, in so far as large sums of money were found in her house. Readers, we want to know whether Martin Luther Kpebu was in Ghana when the flagbearer of the NDC, his party, John Mahama paid over 14 million cedis to delegates across the country during his party’s delegates conference.

We know John Mahama was a former President and now a pensioner, but did he raise the whooping amount and whether he took the amount from the bank?

Perhaps at the time, Martin Luther Kpebu and Professor Ransford Gyampo with his media allies behaved like the proverbial monkey, that “sees nothing and hears nothing” and therefore, cannot say anything.