By Dr. Michael J.K. Bokor
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Now that we are deep into discussing the suit brought against the NPP’s Akufo-Addo by retired Supreme Court Judge Francis Kpegah and its entailments, we can’t discontinue just because our comments hurt some people. We will continue to look far afield to seek answers to pertinent questions.
After all, Akufo-Addo is fighting to be Ghana’s President and we all know how the leadership crisis facing our country has negatively affected its development efforts. We must know what sort of leader he might be—and character counts a lot, doesn’t it?
I begin with this observation, which is my main beef: Despite all that he is suffering from his detractors, Akufo-Addo hasn’t been bold to sue anybody defaming his character all these years. Why? That he is happy to be constantly defamed by all manner of people? That he is a peace-lover and, therefore, won’t take action against those defaming his character? Or simply that he is not interested in litigation on that score, even though the allegations continue to paint him black and damage his political interests? My inference is simple: he is a victim of his own miscalculation. You see, when the outcome of Election 2012 was announced and Akufo-Addo felt politically hurt, he didn’t leave anything to chance. He dashed to the Supreme Court to seek redress, pursuing his petition with an unprecedented alacrity. He did so because he felt something wrong had been done to him and won’t relent, even when some voices in his own political camp have questioned the justification for the lawsuit.
We see a different aspect of Akufo-Addo when it comes to the tarnishing of his image by detractors. Does he not feel that something bad is being done to him to warrant his being concerned enough to seek redress? We recall that he retreated instead of attacking, except on one occasion when he made a half-hearted attempt to sue those making the allegations that ended in smoke; that threat to sue those making the allegations didn’t lead anywhere nor did the allegations stop being made.
When Kofi Coomson (Ghanaian Chronicle) said before the 2008 elections that he couldn't sleep with his eyes shut if Akufo-Addo became Ghana's President, he raised many eyebrows. Akufo-Addo didn't challenge Coomson on that score, leaving Ghanaians wondering if he didn’t think that utterance was damaging to his reputation.
Akufo-Addo had the best chance in his life to take prompt legal action over those allegations when the Wikileaks wire taps on happenings in Ghana (courtesy the US Embassy) were published, one of which revealed Kwesi Pratt’s damning allegations of wee-smoking against him.
What did he do, even when he had documentary evidence to act decisively to end the spate of allegations? He glossed over such damning revelations with a mere shrug of the shoulders and sought refuge in “Ehuru a ebe dwo” (The boiling or blustering will eventually simmer down). Silence is golden!
His legal team, led by Nana Bediatuo, openly threatened to sue anybody defaming him, a threat that achieved nothing as the allegations continued to be made. Those allegations are still doing the rounds in the public sphere and making Akufo-Addo a household name better mentioned for woe than the weal that he may have for society beyond his legal practice, which is why he isn’t at the seat of government but the dark chambers of the Supreme Court.
He seems to have developed a tough skin to soak up pressure, but that laxity is a major cause of his political woes. If he had pursued those detractors with the kind of atrocious zeal that is catalyzing his election petition at the Supreme Court, matters would have been different by now.
Some may also be wondering why out of the more than 25 million Ghanaians on this earth, Akufo-Addo is the only one who is an easy picking for detractors. Why is it so easy for people to destroy his reputation with all these allegations while he seeks refuge in “silence” and not legal action to end it all?
Certainly, those badmouthing him are defaming his character and committing a very serious and punishable offence. I am baffled that Akufo-Addo seems not to know how to use the law (whose “luminary” his supporters claim he is) to advantage.
Of course, our Ghanaian laws support litigation in respect of defamation of character (be it libel, a published material, or slander, made in verbal communication/speech). The records show how those who felt maligned have gone to court to fight for their good names. And most of them won their cases.
Many Ghanaian news media and journalists have been found guilty of defamation of character by the courts and costs awarded to the victims.
Some apologists of Akufo-Addo are saying that he will not bother to respond to the madness of Justice Kpegah. I laugh them off because in this case, Akufo-Addo doesn’t have any choice. Once he has been sued, he is bound by law to respond to the suit, whether he considers Justice Kpegah as an “asylum” case or his suit as an irritant, empty, or politically motivated. He can’t hide behind silence any more. So, for how long will he leave the floodgates open for the dirty water to spill out and destroy his public image? Why hasn’t Akufo-Addo taken the initiative to sue those defaming him and is rather being dragged to court by those intent on defaming him? Paradoxical, right?
Those quick to insult anybody probing into anything about him are wasting their energies because not until Akufo-Addo does what will clear the air, the allegations won’t stop being made.
Even though those who have so far reacted to Justice Kpegah’s suit have consigned him to their own “asylum” because they consider him a “mental case,” his suit will not follow him to the psychiatrist’s office. Even then, his suit offers Akufo-Addo a leeway to redeem himself after all these years of being buffeted left and right by his detractors.
I remember in one of my opinion pieces entitled “Only an Akufo-Addo can redeem Akufo-Addo,” I raised several issues for his benefit only for his apologists to insult me well… well… well.
Unfortunately for them, the chickens have come home to roost; and all they are doing is to respond with what they know best—insults, intimidation, empty threats, and more insults. I want to know, especially in the case of Justice Kpegah, whether Akufo-Addo doesn’t have a clear trump-card to prove himself worthy of belief. Will he redeem himself through Justice Kpegah’s suit to cleanse his reputation and deter this wanton splashing of mud on him?
I wait for answers—be they the usual insults or something new to prove that Akufo-Addo is “man” enough to take on his detractors.
Unarguably, even the ostrich occasionally lifts its head from the sand to escape danger when it looms too large for it to behold or when the sand becomes too hot for it to continue burying its head in. Will the ostrich in Akufo-Addo not act “smart” too?
Now, after failing to sue his detractors, he has ended up being sued by a detractor. Any surprise here?
I shall return…
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