Minister for Finance, Ken Ofori-Atta, has taken legal action against Media General Ghana Ltd, the operator of Onua TV and Onua FM, as well as Blessed Godsbrain Smart, widely known as Captain Smart, the host and presenter of the program “Maakye with Captain Smart” on Onua TV and Onua FM. The lawsuit stems from defamatory statements made by Captain Smart regarding the recently approved $3 billion extended credit facility secured by Ghana for a three-year period, in collaboration with the International Monetary Fund.
In his amended statement of case, filed on Monday 5 June 2023, Ofori-Atta states that Media General Ghana Ltd (the second defendant), by its actions and inactions, looked on, permitted and/or encouraged the first defendant, Blessed Godsbrain Smart (aka Captain Smart), by the use of its platform and resources, to defame him (Ken Ofori-Atta), the plaintiff, unjustifiably.
He is praying that the court grant him GHC10 million in general damages, as well as aggravated and/or exemplary damages for defamation for the slanderous statements made by the two defendants (Blessed Godsbrain/Captain Smart and Media General Ghana Ltd, the company that runs Onua TV and Onua FM).
On Monday, 22 May 2023, Blessed Godsbrain Smart popularly known as ‘Captain Smart’, in the course of the said Maakye with Captain Smart programme, is purported to have stated, “Are you aware that Ken Ofori-Atta has taken his 10% of the IMF money? For every loan we take he takes 10%”.
In the statement of case filed by Ofori-Atta’s lawyer, Bright Okyere Adjekum, “The above statements are not only palpably false [and] absolutely fabricated, but were also deliberately calculated to disparage the plaintiff.”
“Those words are malicious and were clearly further intended to convey and would be understood to convey meanings that diminish the plaintiff in the minds of right-thinking members of society,” the writ continued.
“The said words, set out in their natural and ordinary meaning, meant and were understood to mean, inter alia, that the plaintiff is corrupt, that the plaintiff has diverted public funds and that the plaintiff has abused his office.
“By reason of the foregoing, Plaintiff has been greatly injured in his credit, character and reputation, and has been brought into public scandal, ridicule, distress and embarrassment and has thereby suffered damage,” the statement of case further said.
Ofori-Atta’s lawyer also said that by a letter dated 29 May 2023, they wrote to Blessed Godsbrain Smart (also known as Captain Smart) demanding an apology and retraction of the defamatory statements, but the defendant failed as well as refused to do so.
The plaintiff is praying the court for five reliefs.
First, Ken Ofori-Atta is praying for “a declaration that the words uttered by the defendant, ‘Are you aware that Ken Ofori Atta has taken his 10% of the IMF money? Every loan we take he [Ken Ofori-Atta] takes 10%’ are defamatory of the plaintiff” (Ofori-Atta).
Second, “recovery of the sum of ten million Ghana cedis (GHC10,000,000) as general damages, including aggravated and/or exemplary damages for defamation, for the libel uttered by defendant”.
Third, Ofori-Atta is demanding “an apology for and retraction of the words complained of and particularised” and, fourth, a “perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, whether by himself, his servants, agents or assigns, from repeating similar or other defamatory words against the plaintiff”.
Ofori-Atta’s last prayer is for the court to award costs against Captain Smart.
Read below the amended writ of summons filed by Ofori-Atta’s lawyers: