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General News of Wednesday, 27 March 2002

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Rawlings' Aide Suspects Foul Play


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The special aide to former President Rawlings, Victor Smith has described as false and preposterous, allegations that he is contemplating harming some critics of former President Rawlings. Mr Smith who admitted that he helped a gentleman known as A.K. Mensah to draft some ideas to be incorporated into an open letter to critics of the ex-President, said he has never harboured a wish or contemplated any physical harm against any journalist.

He was reacting to media reports he had written a letter indicating his intentions to physically harm Kweku Baako Jnr, editor of the Crusading Guide and Mrs Margaret Amoakohene of the University of Ghana.

We bring you an unedited press statement Mr Smith issued on the subject.

I refer to your front page story of 26/3/02 – Tuesday edition of the Statesman and wish to react as follows:

Notwithstanding the polemics between Mr Kweku Baako and myself over the past few months, at no point in time have I harboured a wish or contemplated physical harm against him.

The allegation that I have plotted with others to physically harm some anti-Rawlings journalists, including Mr Kweku Baako Jnr., is not only false but also preposterous, especially as the allegation is based on some fictitious letter I am supposed to have authored in pursuit of the alleged plot.

You stated in your story under reference that the person with whom I am alleged to have conspired, “turned-coat and exposed the plot to the national security agents.” I am very grateful to you for this revelation, because it clearly points to a conspiracy to criminalise me. The following factors and developments of the case should persuade any objective observer to conclude that there is a conspiracy to criminalise me.

On the 19th of March, 2002, I was approached by one A.K. Mensah (a purported NDC supporter from Kumasi) to help him write a letter to protest to journalists who have been insulting former President Rawlings in their publications. I drafted some points for him to be incorporated in open letter to be published in the media. Two days after the meeting with A.K. Mensah, Mr. Kweku Baako Jnr comes out on air with shrill cries to conspiracy to assassinate him and other journalists.

The Ghana Journalists Association then immediately picks up Kweku Baako’s battle cry and calls for a probe. The government through Mr Jake Obetsebi Lamptey picks up the cue from the GJA and not only condemns an unproven allegation but refers the matter to the security agencies for investigation. The Bureau of national Investigations (BNI) arrests two Kumasi based NDC activists who were then misrepresented in the media those connected with the “plot to harm journalists.”

My name has constantly been mentioned in the media as the person at the centre of the poly, yet I have not at any point in the media treatment of the case had any contact with the national security agents. Strange, don’t you think so, Mr Editor?

Mr Editor, when the above are factored into the scenario, can you honestly tell the world, who is conspiring to harm who? The open letter I drafted with A.K. Mensah did not contain any threat or plot to harm in so-called phases of operation if Mr Kweku Baako claims that there is a letter with such sinister contents, then I can only surmise that just as A.K. Mensah “turned-coat” so he could have doctored the innocent open letter for the purpose of giving credence to the conspiracy to destroy Victor Smith. And the haste with which Mr Kweku Baako Jnr., the GJA, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey have jumped to the conclusions of plot to harm journalists is the strangest aspect of the whole case.

Signed Victor Smith 26/3/2002

In an earlier interview with JOY FM, Mr Smith said that he had known A.K. Mensah for years and since he was semi-illiterate he thought it was prudent to help him draft the letter. “We always do things to protect the former President so I did not see anything wrong with his request. Maybe I didn’t assess him well. He is not very literate so I helped him to write the letter.”

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