Hackman sues ‘Mahama’, editor over ‘secret meeting tape’

Former Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing in the erstwhile New Patriotic Party (NPP) government, Hackman Owusu-Agyemang has sued three individuals, including a pro-National Democratic Congress (NDC) newspaper editor, for libel in connection with the recent purported leaked tape of a meeting held at former President John Agyekum Kufuor’s residence.

The former minister is seeking Ȼ5 million aggravated damages from Haruna Mahama, an NPP activist; Michael Dokosi, managing editor of Daily Post newspaper and Giraffe Publications Limited, publishers of Daily Post.

According to the plaintiff, whose lawyers are Kulendi @ Law, the defendants had published a headline, “Hackman Owusu-Agyemang leaks audio of meeting at Kufuor’s residence,” which he deems defamatory.

Haruna Mahama, is alleged to have been the first to post the defamatory material on his Facebook page. The story was subsequently widely circulated by the Daily Post newspaper.

Hackman’s reliefs

Mr Owusu-Agyemang is seeking a declaration that the statement post­ed on Haruna Mahama’s Facebook timeline on July 23, 2015 and subsequently published by Daily Post the following day that he (Hackman) leaked the tape is defamatory.

He wants damages for libel in the sum of Ȼ5,000,000 and an order for perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from further publishing similar statements about him.

Additionally, the plaintiff is ask­ing for an order of mandatory rejoin­der compelling the defendants to retract the said ‘defamatory statements’ and render unqualified apology to him in three consecutive editions in the various platforms used by the defendants as well as cost and any order the court might deem fit.

Statement of claim

In his statement of claim, Mr Owusu-Agyemang outlined his professional career and political journey, including working for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (UN/FAO) as well as being MP for New Juaben North from 1997 to 2013.

He also averred that he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs (2001 – 2003) Minister of the Interior (2003 – 2004) and subsequently Minister of Water Resources, Works and Housing from (2005 – 2007) and also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Sikelele Company Limited and East Legon Pharmacy Limited in his private capacity.

According to the plaintiff, on July 23 Haruna Mahama “falsely and with intent to cast a slur on the plaintiff and damage his hard earned reputation,” wrote and published and caused to be circulated on his Facebook timeline statements he deemed defamatory.

The plaintiff said that the defendant had stated that a meeting organised by former President Kufuor, who invited some leading clergy to broker peace in the NPP, was leaked by Mr Owusu-Agyemang.

He said the said defamatory story by Haruna Mahama “was further published and given more disparaging wording” by Michael Dokosi in the July 24, 2015 edition of Daily Post with the banner headline, “Leaked tape of secret meeting in Kufuor’s house, Haruna fingers Hackman…as Otabil, Palmer Buckle & Nyansafueeeiii dis­grace themselves”.

Electronic Media

According to the plaintiff, the publication was discussed extensively on all major radio stations and Haruna Mahama, “bent on destroying the plaintiff’s reputation, was called on his statements and there again scandalously repeated his malicious statements” and further dared Mr Owusu-Agyemang to go to court.

The plaintiff said on July 25, 2015 Haruna Mahama “with a malicious motive to further spitefully malign the plaintiff and in a desperate attempt to injure and tarnish the enviable reputation of the plaintiff,” further published on his Facebook time­line defending his statements.

Mr Owusu-Agyemang said, “the publication and the statements contained were calculated to cause hatred and to disparage, ridicule and injure the plaintiff’s reputation in Ghana and internationally, his work and/or business and that of his family in the minds of right-thinking members of the society.”

He said per the publication, his role as a senior member of the NPP as well as his relationship with former President Kufuor and that of the cur­rent flagbearer “has been seriously undermined.”