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General News of Monday, 28 May 2012

Source: Daily Guide

‘I Stand By 17 Thieves Story’ - Asiedu Nketia

National Democratic Congress (NDC) General Secretary Johnson Asiedu-Nketia has said he still stands by his accusation that some of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) leaders who jostled to lead the party ahead of the 2008 elections were nothing but thieves.

Mr Asiedu-Nketia said if given the opportunity, he would prove that they were indeed thieves and that he had no regret in making the allegation.

Appearing in court under cross-examination in a defamation suit he initiated against Western Publications Limited, publishers of DAILY GUIDE and three others, the NDC secretary said the people he accused had the right to challenge him when he made the allegation but they did not.

“My Lord, I cannot be blamed for people sleeping on their rights,” he told the court amidst laughter from the room, when counsel for DAILY GUIDE, Freddie Blay, put it to him that he had no evidence when he made the sweeping allegations.

Counsel had asked him about his own reputation when he made the allegation that 17 thieves were going to congress to elect a chief thief among the aspirants in the NPP’s 2007 congress to elect a presidential candidate for the 2008 elections.

Mr Asiedu-Nketia had sued DAILY GUIDE for publishing that he had built two houses in Accra and Kumasi, even though the NDC scribe had admitted before the court that he had more than one.

According to him, he had recently built a house at Oyarifa in Accra where he currently resides and that the Kumasi house which had the same architectural design had nothing to do with it.

He told the court that the pictures used for the stories published by DAILY GUIDE were the same as those of the Oyarifa house.

He claimed that DAILY GUIDE had maliciously used one picture to represent the two houses just to undermine his reputation, a fact even attested to by President John Evans Atta Mills. He said following the publication, President Mills queried him whether he had deviated from his path of uprightness.

Mr Blay put it to him that the two houses in Kumasi and Accra were built by the same contractor, Nickseth Construction Company.

Mr Asiedu-Nketia conceded that Nickseth, a Kumasi-based contractor, built the Oyarifa house but he was not aware whether the company constructed the Kumasi house located at Dabaan Payin, because he did not move with the company to building sites.

According to Mr Asiedu-Nketia, a former bank manager of the Seikwa-based Nkoranman Rural Bank in the early 1990s, he was not complaining about the ownership of the building but the publication that he was into ‘property grabbing.’

However, counsel said the publication did not make any allegation of corruption or illegality concerning the acquisition of the property and that the story was a fair comment since the newspaper gave him the opportunity to respond to it but, he rather declined the offer.

Counsel said the fact that the newspaper used the word ‘grabbing’ did not connote negativity since the word could be interpreted in several ways, which he provided dictionary meanings to support.

The NDC general secretary, who said he was not on any salary in the party, said he owned Tain Developers Company which supplied blocks for the construction of the Bui Dam.

As a board member of the Bui Power Authority, he said he only sold blocks to the sub contractors working on the project and not the main contractors to avoid a possible conflict of interest situation.

The case is before an Accra Fast Track High court presided over by Justice N.M.C. Abodakpi.

Mr Asiedu-Nketia, a former Middle School teacher at Seikwa, said he was not aware if his block factory, which was registered as a limited liability company in 2009 when the NDC came to power, was honouring its tax obligations to the state.

When counsel put it to him that the company had not been paying taxes, the plaintiff said he could not tell because he did not manage the block factory personally.

He explained that he contracted GH¢100,000 (¢1billion) from Zenith Bank, in addition to GH¢100,000 ex-gratia he received as a former Member of Parliament, to build the two storey-mansion with a basement.

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