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Opinions of Sunday, 8 September 2002

Columnist: Koramoah, Kwame Adofo

Why Kwaku Baako has more credibility than Rawlingses

The on-again, off-again, decision of the Rawlingses not to seek redress over publications they say are disparaging of them by virtue of being “publication of falsehood and inaccuracies” have raised suspicions as to exactly what the Rawlingses have got to hide, or fear might be revealed to the general public.

In an interview with Radio Gold, it is reported Mrs Rawlings gave their reasons for their decision as because “they say we don’t have a favourable judiciary”. But the question is, do the Rawlingses have to have something called a “favourable judiciary” to be able to bring an action in defamation? To answer the question, one needs to understand the philosophical justification of the media in a democratic dispensation of our country. Relevantly, democracy and rule of law go hand-in-hand. Apart from the Executive, the legislature and the judiciary, there is a need for a very strong fourth estate, viz the media. The media has a dual role of serving as a check on the 3 systems of government, as well as ensuring the free speech enshrined in the constitution is made more intelligible to the citizenry.

Again, the essence of free speech to a democratic society is a matter for later analysis, but for current purposes it is essential for a pure democracy which is dependent on truth. Where the idea is on the understanding that where there is a clear relationship based on truth, the better the community would be to assess the workings and outcomes of the democracy. Consequently, an informed populace would lead to a better and quality democracy, which is basically what Mr Kwaku Baako has sought to do. To keep the populace informed about the veiled side of the man and woman who had unfettered access to the wheels of our motherland Ghana for some 2 decades.

Two scenarios emerges from the current situation, firstly it is either that the totality of the allegations against the Rawlingses are true and that they have stolen millions from the poor people of Ghana, or secondly that the allegations are false and calculated to smear or besmirch the reputation of the Rawlingses. It is solely for the later reason that the Rawlingses have to seek redress from the only forum mandated by the constitution they, themselves helped created and bequeathed the country, the courts, in order to re-establish their tarnished reputation.

Reputation is property, honour, and dignity of self worth or self respect. But the Rawlingses have chosen not to seek redress from the courts (judiciary) because apparently, “they don’t have a favourable judiciary”.

The truth is for the Rawlingses to be able to institute an action in defamation; they do not need to have a favourable judiciary. What they would need to do is to show only that (1) there has been a publication; (2) which identifies them; (3) and that publication, contains a defamatory matter. Once that is done, the onus of proof shifts to the defendant, Kwaku Baako. Essentially it will entail the Rawlingses going to court with only a copy of the newspaper(s) containing the disparaging material that would cause them to be lowered in the eyes of right-thinking members of the community. Again it is worth emphasising that once the Rawlingses initiates the cause of action, the onus would be on Kwaku Baako to prove his allegation(s). An onerous burden of proof which will require an immense amount of logistics in such a high profile figure like the Rawlingses.

Even so, the Rawlingses could not go to court. Instead they have chosen a more benign Media Commission which is a proverbial toothless tiger with no power to remedy an injury to reputation. Kwaku Baako can even treat the Commission with contempt, which is what he has already done by refusing to appear before it. It is a personal victory for Kwaku Baako who deserves our commendation not so much for his personal crusade to strip Rawlings naked, but for his fearless zeal to publish the truth which is an essential precondition for a pure democracy. There is no doubt that the reluctance of the Rawlingses to go to court suggest a real fear of being exposed as the most corrupt leadership in our country’s history. Persons who preached the virtuous message of probity and accountability but in fact practised the vice of corruption, ineptitude, thievery, and perfidy.

It is noted that Mr Rawlings claims his wife has written to the Bank at the centre of the recent allegation to "confirm or deny” the publications of Kwaku Baako. Clearly this is an act of a man who is desperate to cover up the trail of the booty stashed away. If indeed Rawlings believes that Kwaku Baako is wrong, the proper cause would have been most appropriately the courts. And no doubt Kwaku Baako would have by now been dragged there a long time ago. The Rawlingses are merely trying to stop the incessant criticisms from the public by creating this disingenuous idea that the Bank will ultimately come out and refute the publication as falsehood. This is in fact misleading and the people will wait until the next millennium for that to happen. No bank has a conscience, and certainly not the one of the Rawlingses which has assisted them to steal from the poor men and women of our dear country. I also note that Rawlings is claiming that he got his recent 4 wheel drive deliveries as gift from friends of theirs. But again is unable to name who the friends are. Maybe the Banks who assisted them to stash the moneys away are the friends!

Once again, if the Rawlingses claim to have suffered injury to their reputation, then the courts are there to provide adequate redress to injury to reputation. It is not the job of the banks, or the Media Commission. Defamation law is there to prevent breach of the peace. People otherwise might take the law into their own hands. The redemption of the Rawlingses reputation is in the courts. It is not for the Rawlingses to seek other alternatives such as duelling on the streets (as is already alleged that they are involved in a plot to kill Kwaku Baako).

It follows that Kwaku Baako is right in calling the Rawlingses a bluff. They have no credibility left. They case of Jones v Dunkel (citation omitted) establishes that: unless a person’s failure to give evidence is explained, it may lead rationally to an inference that his evidence will not help his case. In this case, the Rawlingses are running scared because they know that possibly an immense amount of information about their inappropriate dealings would be revealed should they dare to take Kwaku Baako to court. It follows that any left reputation of the Rawlingses (aka Junior Jesus and Eno Mary) is completely blown out of the water. They therefore deserve to be left out in the wilderness as a man and woman without reputation of property, honour, and dignity.

Kwame Adofo Koramoah
Solicitor of the Supreme Court of NSW.
Views expressed by the author(s) do not necessarily reflect those of Ghanaweb.