Ironic? Libel settlement Will Build House Newspaper Falsely Reported Politi

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Ghana newspaper The Daily Guide must pay a politician Ghc250,000 (almost $100,000) after the newspaper’s March 2, and 3, 2011 report titled “Asiedu Nketia’s Plush Mansion” was found libelous, Ghana’s Radio XYZ reported.

National Democratic Congress general secretary Johnson Aseidu Nketia’s lawsuit described how the Daily Guide said he was corrupt and abusing his office to obtain property. The NDC is a political party. His lawsuit further claimed that the Daily Guide fabricated sources to support the claims, the Daily Guide itself reported in a news story on the ruling. The article “suggested” that Nketia, nicknamed General Mosquito, “was siphoning state funds to construct a private house,” according to Radio XYZ.

The court ruled the newspaper must also “retract the publication by apologizing…four times on the front page of the newspaper,” according to the Daily Guide’s website.

The article in question doesn’t appear to still be on the Daily Guide‘s website but at the time of its original publication in 2011, it was re-published on Modern Ghana‘s website, iMediaEthics found.  It said that the house is “one of the finest in the area.”

The article said in part that Nkeitah “is believed to have simultaneously put up two big mansions in Accra and Kumasi within the last two years,” but that he wouldn’t comment on the claims. It stated:

“Mr. Asiedu-Nketiah however declined to answer queries regarding the alleged properties when contacted by DAILY GUIDE yesterday, because he claimed the newspaper had published twisted stories about him.”

It went on: “In spite of his refusal to speak on the issue, residents of Oyarifa, a developing community along the Accra-Aburi highway where one of the imposing two-storey buildings is located, are convinced that the house belongs to the NDC General Secretary since he visited the place each day to see the level of progress of work.”

In response, Nketia’s lawsuit asserted that the newspaper fabricated the house in question in Kumasi, by using photos of his actual house in Accra, the Daily Guide admitted in a story on the ruling against it.

The libel ruling was made Feb. 27.

According to Ghana radio station Peace FM Online, Nketia said in an interview with Ghana radio station 100.9 FM that he plans to build a house with the awarded money, ironically, near where the Daily Guide falsely said he had property.

“I will take that money and build with it. After putting up the building, I will inscribe ‘Kwasia bi nti’ (thanks to a fool) in front of it,” he said, according to Peace FM Online. He went on:

“I will not allow anyone to defame me and go scot free. We have to make telling of lies expensive and if I forgive them, I would be making lies cheap to tell.”

The Daily Guide plans to appeal, according to a news story on its website.

It quoted the newspaper publisher’s lawyer, Eric Osei Mensah, as saying he hadn’t seen the ruling yet, but “My immediate reaction to the decision is that that definitely cannot be the end of the matter.”

iMediaEthics has written to the newspaper’s lawyer and Nketia at the National Democratic Congress for more information.

Hat Tip: Vibe Ghana

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