Kennedy Agyapong and Anas Aremeyaw Anas
An Accra High Court yesterday dismissed a defamation suit filed by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, against Member of Parliament for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong, holding that based on the evidence before it, the MP was “justified in calling the plaintiff evil, criminal, corrupt, extortionist and blackmailer.”
Anas had filed the suit against the MP in 2018 claiming damages of GH¢25 million over comments the MP made against him after the airing of his investigative piece titled ‘#12’ which allegedly exposed corruption in Ghana football.
Anas had argued that the MP had been publishing defamatory statements about him, some of which he claimed portrayed him as a criminal, murderer, land grabber, extortionist, among others.
The statement complained of was made on May 29, 2018, on a live programme on Adom TV, where the MP allegedly made those statements, and Anas also claimed that the MP published more defamatory materials against him to the extent of releasing pictures purported to be him.
The court, presided over by Justice Eric Baah, a Court of Appeal judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, in his judgment, held that the statements made by the MP have the tendency to defame but Anas did not prove that he was defamed by those words due to the evidence before it.
The court held that a video on the 2009 infamous US$1.9 million gold scam trial tendered by the MP captured Anas confessing to taking a $100,000 bribe from Baba Tunde and also paying bribe to the prosecutor to twist the case.
“If the plaintiff (Anas) says that Baba Tunde bought him for $100,000, no-one else can challenge it. True to the scheme Baba Tunde who had confessed to a crime involving $1.9 million on the tape in the possession of the plaintiff was excluded from the charges. The video of his confession was never showed to the public,” Justice Baah stated.
The court found that Anas’ modus operandi involved capturing his targets on tape, then later showing the tape to them and those who pay get their tapes shelved and those who refuse or unable to pay are shown to the full glare of the public for reputational damages.
“Such conduct is deliberate and morally wrong, it is evil. Based on evidence, defendant was justified in calling the plaintiff evil, criminal, corrupt, extortionist and blackmailer,” the court held.
The court also took exception to two pieces of evidence tendered by Mr. Agyapong in which Anas and his team were planning to blackmail President Akufo-Addo and the Prime Minister of Ivory Coast, questioning what their motive and that of their sponsors were.
“Corruption rating agencies have never been kind to Ghana in their ratings. The President and the Prime Minister, who the plaintiff and his team targeted, are the leaders of their nations. They represent the soul and spirit of their nations. They are obliged to lead by example, so if they engage in corrupt act, journalists like the plaintiff and indeed any citizen is entitled to expose them,” the court stated.
However, Justice Baah held that preempting unjustified attack on their credibility unprovoked by any credible suspicion of a specific act of corruption engaged in, or about to be engaged in by them such as drawing them into a trap contrived as a corruption set up as alleged by the MP and backed by tape was unwarranted and devious.
“If the plaintiff is being sponsored by internal or external entities, who are they, what are their motives and objectives. Does it include tarnishing the images of Presidents and Prime Ministers in the sub-region? If the sources are external sources, would they approve of the modus operandi of the plaintiff? Can a journalist from CNN or BBC out of nothing lay trap to implicate the President of America or Prime Minister of Britain for purposes of grabbing headlines and instilling unwarranted fear in the public,” the judge pondered.
The court further found that the plot by Anas and his group in the evidence before it has nothing to do with investigative journalism but what he described as ‘Investigative terrorism’ and scheme for grabbing power by the back door and satisfying Anas’ “insatiable chase for power, publicity, fame, awards and rewards.”
Justice Baah added that the facts and the evidence before him established Anas as a self-confessed criminal, so the MP’s statement about him is factual and justified.
The court concluded that Anas could not prove his case and subsequently dismissed it for lacking merit. He awarded a cost of GH¢50,000 in favour of Mr. Agyapong against Anas.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak