The Circuit Court in Bolgatanga has thrown out a defamation claim filed by a leading member of BONABOTO, Francis Atintono, against the EIB Network’s investigative journalist, Edward Adeti.
Adeti had reported that Atintono verbally and physically assaulted him in Bolgatanga after the journalist had conducted an investigation that went against the interest of some members of BONABOTO, an association.
Atintono filed a defamation suit and was backed by the Upper East Regional Chairman of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Eric Amoh, who stood passionately for him (Atintono) in court as a witness against Adeti. Frontline members of BONABOTO including Robert Ajene (a retired educationist), Peter Claver Azitariga Gaaga (a former headmaster at the Bongo Senior High School) and the GJA chairman frequented the Circuit Court to offer their support for Atintono as the trial ran for almost two years.
The plaintiff could not prove to the court that Adeti’s report, captioned “BONABOTO’s Chair Assaults Starr Reporter”, caused him any reputational damage for which he sought an apology, a retraction and a “compensation” sum of Gh¢20,000.00 from the journalist. And when the GJA chairman (one of Atintono’s witnesses) was asked in the witness box if the publication was defamatory, he said it was not a defamatory material.
“The claim fails and there is no need to consider the effect of the defence put up by the defendant even if it also did not fly. Accordingly, the court enters judgement in favour of the defendant. Cost of Gh¢4,000 against the plaintiff,” said the judgement passed by the presiding judge, His Honour Malcolm Bedzrah.
On the morning of Wednesday April 15, 2020, Atintono drove a court bailiff to Adeti’s residence in Bolgatanga to drop a copy of a written submission filed by his counsel at the Court of Appeal in Tamale.
Since early 2017, Adeti has been a constant target of verbal attacks and victim of badmouthing everywhere by some members of BONABOTO after his investigation vindicated a former Upper East Regional Director of Health Services, Dr Koku Awoonor, who was “falsely” accused by same members of the group of “stealing” five official vehicles.
Meanwhile, Dr Awoonor, who was cleared of any wrongdoing by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) after BONABOTO brought a claim against him before the anti-corruption organ with respect to the alleged stolen vehicles, has sued Atintono alongside Dr Kofi Issah, Stanley Abopaam and Vitus Azeem for defamation at a High Court in Accra.
“I have heard some people are saying they will kill me like a dog by running over me with their vehicles on the road and feign it like a mere accident because I’m a thorn in their flesh. That’s one of the things I’ve been told. I’m waiting. Several assassination plots and eviction campaign are going on against me, I have been informed.
“Nothing should take away our courage against evil men and our ability to endure all circumstances even if some of our colleagues join them against us for obvious and ulterior favours. We simply need more media men and women who are not afraid of going hungry, who are not afraid of losing their shelter, who are not afraid of going to jail for what they believe, who are not afraid of being called names, who are not afraid of rejection. Nothing on earth is forever. They will not last. Just watch it,” Adeti said recently in an interview.
Source: Daily Mail GH