The senior partner and co-founder of Africa Legal Associates (ALA), Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, has filed a defamation lawsuit against the former minister of environment, science, technology and innovation Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng over what he says are defamatory words the professor wrote against his person.
In his suit, Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko (the plaintiff) is asking the court to award him GHC10 million by way of general damages, including aggravated and/or exemplary damages.
He is also demanding an apology and a retraction of the words written by Professor Frimpong-Boateng (the defendant) about his person.
Otchere-Darko is also praying the court to restrain Professor Frimpong-Boateng, his servants, agents or assigns through a perpetual injunction from repeating similar or other defamatory words against him.
Alleged defamatory words
Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, in a leaked report dated 19 March 2021 and addressed to Akosua Osei Opare, the Chief of Staff in the Office of the President, made several allegations against present and past government officials as well as private persons, accusing them of being responsible for the inability of the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Illegal Mining (IMCIM) to fight illegal mining in Ghana between January 2017 and January 2021.
In his supposed report, Professor Frimpong Boateng wrote the follow statements concerning Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko: “What saddened me most was when Gabby Asare-Darko called to defend a company that was actively destroying the environment, especially the forests and River Offin in the Apaprama and Kobro Forests.
“We were ready to dislodge Imperial Heritage from Kobro forest when Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko called to inform me that he was the lawyer for Heritage Imperial Limited, a company that was destroying the Kobro and Apaprama Forest Reserves and in the process had also polluted and diverted the course of the River Offin, as can be seen in the satellite images below. I informed the President about the behaviour of Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko and he promised to deal with it.
“I was expecting people such as Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko, Captain Kodah and others like them, who knew the President better and certainly had his interest and success at heart, to support the fight against illegal mining,” the report said.
“I was thus horrified to receive a telephone call from Otchere-Darko telling me he was the legal advisor to Donald Entsuah and his Imperial Heritage Mining Company and that the company should be allowed to work in the Kobro and Apaprama Forest Reserves.”
Contention of plaintiff
Lawyers for Otchere-Darko, in their statement of claim dated 28 April 2023 and signed by Bright Okyere-Adjekum, contend that the “defendant from his report sought to sensationalise the telephone conversation with the plaintiff as plaintiff never sought to direct or instruct defendant on his dealings with Heritage”.
“Defendant placed a slant on his telephone conversation with the plaintiff only to justify his self-acclaimed position that he was the last man standing in the fight against galamsey and thereby enhance his reputation at plaintiff’s expense.
“Defendant’s false statements about the plaintiff, which have gone viral, have generated and continue to feed several insults against plaintiff, especially on the internet, including plaintiff being derisively called ‘galamsey lawyer’.
“Plaintiff’s conversation with defendant did not involve any illegal Chinese miners. Defendant is deliberately and maliciously confusing issues, events and dates,” the statement of claim read.
“By the records available to plaintiff, the only Chinese nationals with work permits engaged by Heritage as its subcontractors who were arrested were discharged by a court of competent jurisdiction in July 2019. This was even before Heritage engaged ALA as its lawyers and plaintiff had nothing to do with that at all.
“Notwithstanding the fact that the plaintiff has made it clear that the allegations made against him by the defendant are false, the defendant has not offered the plaintiff any apology or retraction.
“Instead, he has made more damning false allegations against plaintiff. It is to be inferred that defendant has cynically failed to do so because he is indifferent to the truth, deliberate about causing reputational damage to plaintiff, has a total disregard for plaintiff’s reputation and only seeks to court huge publicity at plaintiff’s expense.
“Plaintiff contends that unless restrained by the court, defendant will continue to publish or cause to be published same or similar defamatory words concerning the plaintiff,” Otchere-Darko’s lawyers said in their statement of claim.
Read the full suit filed by Gabby Asare Otchere-Darko below:
Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra
Asaase Radio 99.5 broadcasts on radio via 99.5 in Accra, 98.5 in Kumasi, 99.7 in Tamale, 100.3 in Cape Coast and on our affiliates Bawku FM 101.5 in Bawku, Beats FM 99.9 in Bimbilla, Somua FM 89.9 in Gushegu, Stone City 90.7 in Ho, Mining City 89.5 in Tarkwa and Wale FM 106.9 in Walewale
Tune in or log on to broadcasts online: www.asaaseradio.com, Sound Garden and TuneIn
Follow us on Twitter: @asaaseradio995
Live streaming: facebook.com/asaaseradio99.5. Also on YouTube: Asaase Radio Official.
Join the conversation. Call: 020 000 9951 or 059 415 7777. Or WhatsApp: 020 000 0995.