The Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has sued Media General Ghana Ltd, operator of Onua TV and Onua FM, in addition to Blessed Godsbrain Smart (aka Captain Smart), the host and presenter of Maakye with Captain Smart on Onua TV and Onua FM, for defamatory claims that Captain Smart made against him about the $3 billion extended credit facility, recently approved by the International Monetary Fund and secured by Ghana for a period of three years.
In his amended statement of case, filed on Monday 5 June 2023, Ofori-Atta states that Media General Ghana Ltd (the second defendant), by its actions and inactions, looked on, permitted and/or encouraged the first defendant, Blessed Godsbrain Smart (aka Captain Smart), by the use of its platform and resources, to defame him (Ken Ofori-Atta), the plaintiff, unjustifiably.
He is asking the court to award GHC10 million by way of general damages, including aggravated and or exemplary damages for defamation for the libel uttered by the two defendants (Media General Ghana Ltd, the operator of Onua TV and Onua FM, in addition to Blessed Godsbrain/Captain Smart).
In an earlier writ, filed at the high court in Accra on Friday (2 June 2023) by Bright Okyere Adjekum, the lawyer for Ken Ofori-Atta, and sighted by Asaase News, Ofori-Atta’s lawyers state that on 22 May 2023, in the course of the said Maakye with Captain Smart programme, the defendant, Blessed Godsbrain Smart, broadcast and published on Onua TV and Onua FM and via the internet the following words defamatory of the plaintiff: “Are you aware that Ken Ofori Atta has taken his 10% of the IMF money? Every loan we take, he takes 10%.”
“The above statements are not only palpably false [and] absolutely fabricated, but were also deliberately calculated to disparage the plaintiff,” said the statement of case filed by Ofori-Atta’s lawyer.
“Those words are malicious and were clearly further intended to convey and would be understood to convey meanings that diminish the plaintiff in the minds of right-thinking members of society,” the writ continued.
“The said words, set out in their natural and ordinary meaning, meant and were understood to mean, inter alia, that the plaintiff is corrupt, that the plaintiff has diverted public funds and that the plaintiff has abused his office.
“By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff has been greatly injured in his credit, character and reputation, and has been brought into public scandal, ridicule, distress and embarrassment and has thereby suffered damage,” the statement of case further said.
Ofori-Atta’s lawyer also said that by a letter dated 29 May 2023, they wrote to Blessed Godsbrain Smart (also known as Captain Smart) demanding an apology and retraction of the defamatory statements, but the defendant failed as well as refused to do so.
The plaintiff is praying the court for five reliefs.
First, Ken Ofori-Atta is praying for “a declaration that the words uttered by the defendant, ‘Are you aware that Ken Ofori Atta has taken his 10% of the IMF money? Every loan we take he [Ken Ofori-Atta] takes 10%’ are defamatory of the plaintiff” (Ofori-Atta).
Second, “recovery of the sum of ten million Ghana cedis (GHC10,000,000) as general damages, including aggravated and/or exemplary damages for defamation, for the libel uttered by defendant”.
Third, Ofori-Atta is demanding “an apology for and retraction of the words complained of and particularised” and, fourth, a “perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, whether by himself, his servants, agents or assigns, from repeating similar or other defamatory words against the plaintiff”.
Ofori-Atta’s last prayer is for the court to award costs against Captain Smart.
On 1 July 2022 the government made known to Ghanaians its decision to engage the IMF for support to mitigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine on Ghana’s economy.
From the date of the decision to go to the IMF, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has been at the forefront of Ghana’s negotiations with the Fund.
The Ofori-Atta-led negotiating team secured a staff-level agreement with the IMF on 12 December 2022 and obtained board-level approval on 17 May 2023.