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Opinions of Saturday, 20 October 2018

Columnist: Rockson Adofo

The Ghanaian 'well-to-do' using civil suits to effect culture of silence must stop

It seems to gradually becoming the norm in Ghana to use the threat of suit, or suing, as a means of silencing people or the public. I find this attitude by our “well-to-do”, especially the politicians and those entrusted with higher positions, both within the public and the private sectors, very worrying and unhealthy for the socio-economic emancipation of Ghana.

I shall cite three case instances to prove this abuse of position by those who think they can cleverly resort to absurd civil suits to silence the Ghanaian public or anyone who comes out openly to challenge their perceived acts of illegalities.

There was this case where Mr Ibrahim Mahama, the younger sibling of former President John Dramani Mahama, sued Mr Antwi Boasiako, alias Chairman Wontumi, the NPP Regional Chairman for Ashanti Region, for millions of Ghana New Cedis. He sued Chairman Wontumi for accusing him of earning his wealth through foul means. Chairman Wontumi had allegedly said that Ibrahim Mahama’s monetary or material wealth is “sika fin” (bad money). It simply means he did not earn his wealth genuinely.

Ibrahim Mahama felt humiliated. Subsequently, he sued Chairman Wontumi for millions of Ghana Cedis for defamation of character. In the same suit, he requested Wontumi to withdraw his accusation against him, apologise to him, and have the court bar him from ever making any further such allegations against him.

Was it not this same Ibrahim Mahama who had borrowed money to the tune of either US$58 million or GHC58 million from the Ghana Merchant Bank, refused to pay it and consequently the bank went into receivership, administration and finally bankrupt? When the bank was being sold, was it not purchased by same Ibrahim Mahama and his dubious co-partners?

Was it not this same Ibrahim Mahama who was uncovered by Kennedy Agyapong (Hon) to have issued several dud cheques to clear his imported goods from the Ghana ports without indeed paying a pesewa in import duties? He did so for at least two consecutive years when his senior brother was in power as the President of Ghana. When he could see danger looming, he ran like a frightened dog scuttling away from danger with its tail tucked in-between its hind legs, to clear all his outstanding import duties which he had craftily sought to evade by virtue of the position of his senior brother.

Again, has the same Ibrahim Mahama not recently been found to have borrowed GHC302 million from the UT Bank, which he has refused to pay hence partly contributing to the collapse of the Bank with its consolidation along with other distressed banks into a single bank called The Ghana Consolidated Bank?

Look at how Ibrahim Mahama has been earning his money. Borrowing huge sums of bank money without ever paying. Who will never become rich if such an opportunity was extended to them but at the expense and economic demise of Ghana?

From the above, is Ibrahim Mahama’s wealth not earned dubiously? Is Chairman Wontumi not 100% right when he accused him of having “sika fin”? At a point in his wrangling with Wontumi, I waded in to publish articles to lambast Ibrahim Mahama.

The second case reference is about the Ghana ace investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas suing Kennedy Agyapong (Hon) for GHC25 million when Kennedy accused him of blackmailing, entrapment and corruption in the exercise of his investigative strategies. Kennedy claimed Anas is worse and more corrupt than those he investigates. Kennedy was not against Anas catching corrupt and bribe-accepting officials but he expected him to live above reproach hence quoting the internationally known dictum, “He who comes into equity must come with clean hands”. When Kennedy in the end premiered his evidence against Anas titled, “Who watches the Watchman”, Ghanaians have become aware and convinced that Anas was not so angelic and whiter than white as previously thought.

The third case instance is about Mr Abdul Malik Kweku Baako suing Kennedy Agyapong (Hon) for GHC25 million for character assassination for alleging that he is involved in illegal surface mining (“galamsey”), corrupt, etc. When I saw the title of the publication on the online Ghana news and the huge sum of money sued for, I refused to read the story because of how infuriated I became.

What madness is going on in Ghana? Do those suing in attempts to silence others or the public think GHC25 million is a small sum of money? Why can’t they be real by suing for say, GHC1 million or less? Do they not see themselves as being laughing stock if they sue for such huge sums of money? Are they not about sending out a signal that he who dares to question their integrity will be severely dealt with hence the frightening figures of sums of money they sue for?

Let them understand that by their failure to be real as seen from the microscopic lenses zoomed in on the figures of sums of money they sue for, their attempts to silence the public will not work.

Who is defaming Kweku Baako if not himself? Has he not cast his reputation in doubt already by his support for Mrs Charlotte Osei, the just outgone or sacked Chair of the Ghana Electoral Commission? When the whole world was made aware of the irregularities, corrupt practices and incompetence at the Electoral Commission as effected by Charlotte Osei herself and her deputies, from the horses’ own mouth, Kweku Baako still threw his weight behind her. He said, it was a witch-hunt and that the charges levelled against Charlotte would not stand.

By saying Charlotte is his blood relation or family member so he would defend her, was the very moment Kweku Baako lost his credibility and integrity. Therefore, it is not Kennedy who is defaming him; he has already defamed himself.

All those who think they can silence the public by virtue of their position in the society are just pure jokers. The more they sue or threaten to sue with intent to silence people, the more people like Wontumi, Kennedy and Rockson will expose them.

Those suing for 25+ million Ghana New Cedis are living in cloud cuckoo land. “In the modern world, a "cloud cuckoo lander" is defined as someone who is seen as "crazy" or "strange" by most average people, often doing or saying things that seemingly only make sense to themselves, but also exhibit cleverness at times in ways no one else would think of”

The more you sue with intent to silence the public, the more the brave ones in the society will take you on. Understood?