The Lighthouse Chapel International (LCI) has filed three applications for judgment in default of defence against journalists Manasseh Azure Awuni, Edwin Appiah, Sulemana Braimah and Media Foundation for West Africa in connection with three separate defamation suits it filed against the defendants.
The suits are in respect of three articles the defendants published against the church titled “Darkness in a Lighthouse’’ in April last year which the church is claiming are libelous.
The writ issued by Kweku Paintsil, counsel for the church, in its statements of claim averred that defendants together published the three articles in which they allegedly launched scathing and disparaging attacks on the LCI and its founder Bishop Dag Heward-Mills.
Some of the purported defamatory publications, according to the statements of claim of the plaintiff, included the allegations that “six ministers of God laboured for a cumulative 42 years and five months without the payment of their pension contributions…” by the church.
Another publication complained of by the church was the claim by the defendants that there was exploitation by the church, undue pressure, and psychological effects of the ordeals by pastors which drove an aggrieved former pastor of the church named Seth Duncan to “attempt suicide three times and also cut his scrotum.”
The statements of claim also averred that the articles apart from being defamatory, were also highly prejudicial to six (6) suits that have been brought against the church by six of its former pastors, and further indicated that the publications constituted a media trial of the suits in favour of the six former pastors.
The motion papers for the judgment in default of defence stated that the court will be moved January 24, 2022, by “counsel for and on behalf of the Plaintiff/Applicant on the hearing of an application on the part of the Plaintiff/Applicant for an order that no defence having been delivered by the 1st – 4th Defendants/Respondents herein, Interlocutory Judgment be entered for the Plaintiff/Applicant against the 1st – 4th Defendants/Respondents for the reliefs endorsed on the Writ of Summon.”
According to the motion papers, the applications for judgment in default of defence are grounded on Order 13 rule 6(1) of the High Court (Civil Procedure Rules), 2004, C.I. 47.
According to the affidavits in support of the applications for default judgment, “ On 10th December 2021, the Plaintiff issued a Writ of Summons with an accompanying Statement of Claim seeking against the Defendants the various reliefs endorsed on the Writ of Summons.”
It averred that the defendants entered appearance to the suit on December 20, 2021, but have failed to deliver their defences to date, according to a search conducted at the registry of the court.
“I am advised that the Plaintiff has become entitled to judgment for the reliefs endorsed on the Writ of Summons by reason of the said default,” it added.
The damages being sought by the plaintiff include special, aggravated and exemplary damages for libel as contained on websites published by the defendants herein and re-published by many local and international media.
The plaintiff wants an injunction restraining the defendants and their assigns from further publishing or causing to be published the said publication or similar defamatory words.
They are also seeking an order directed to the defendants to publish with equivalent prominence to the same medium a suitable apology in terms to be agreed by the parties or approved by the plaintiff and for the same to be archived on defendants’ website so as to remain searchable to users of the said website and Facebook accounts as well as an order directed to the defendants to ensure the removal of the defamatory articles as well as their re-publication on other media sites from the internet.
BY Gibril Abdul Razak