Chairman of the AGAMs Group of Companies, parent company of rlg communications, Roland Agambire, has discontinued a ¢1m defamation suit against Manasseh Azure Awuni.
Landmark Legal, solicitors for Roland Agambire, today (April 7, 2016) filed a “notice of discontinuance” at an Accra High Court to discontinue the case. The one-paragraph notice reads: “PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that the plaintiff herein, hereby discontinues the action.”
Lawyer for Manasseh, Samson Lardy Anyenini, told Joy News that such actions are allowed in the legal process. He said the fact that the one who filed the suit did not want to continue with the case meant that the case had come to and end.
Mr. Roland Agambire had accused Joy FM’s investigative journalist of posting malicious and defamatory comments about him on Facebook.
In his Statement of Claim, Mr. Agambire said Manasseh made two separate posts on February 10 and March 3, 2015 attacking him without any justification.
The February 10 post read: “I am deeply hurt and worried. If companies belonging to Roland Agambire of RLG fame and Joseph Siaw Agyapong of Zoomlion fame are going to run GYEEDA (now YEA), then another scandal will soon emerge. These two groups of companies have been named in all major scandals in recent times: GYEEDA, SUBAH and SADA.
“The most disturbing issue is that they are untouchable. They have not been prosecuted and they have not repaid the monies that were wrongly paid to them despite the recommendation of the committee. RLG paid only one quarter’s installation. Zoomlion is yet to pay a pesewa. As we speak, the World Bank banned Zoomlion from bidding for contracts funded by the Bank. But in Ghana, they move from grace to grace on government contracts and the tax payer’s money is not accounted for. I am very hurt and disturbed.”
On March 3, 2015, Manasseh wrote again, “Mahama may not be a thief. But if he supervises stealing, how should we call him? Or has [Daniel] Batidam not heard the Akan proverb? Maybe, he should be reminded now that he is singing from a different hymn book: An elder who sits at home and allows children to eat python will not be left out when a roll call of python eaters is conducted. What systems is he referring to?
“Roland Agambire or Joseph Siaw Agyapong, for instance, have been made more powerful than any minister of state. So if their companies are involved in corruption, which institutions, systems or persons are to lead the crusade against this corruption? Did Batidam not know of such systems when he was “firing” Mahama to act when the GYEEDA scandal first broke? And if President Mahama is not a judge, why does he keep assuring us that he is fighting corruption?”
Mr. Agambire contends that the publications “are offensive and actuated by malice, and that in their natural and ordinary meaning, the words contained therein meant and were understood to mean that [he] is a thief who is stealing the money of the people of Ghana and acting without regard for rule of law because he is untouchable.”
He said Manasseh’s posts portrayed him as corrupt and dishonest.
He wants amongst others, a declaration that the publications were false and defamatory; damages of ¢1m, an order restraining Manasseh from any such publications and a retraction and an unqualified apology.
But in his defence, lawyer for the journalist, Samson Lardy Anyenini, argues that, “insofar as the words complained of meant or were understood to mean plaintiff [Roland Agambire] controls companies that have wrongly obtained public funds to provide services and failed to and had its contracts cancelled, was ordered to refund und and failed to repay these funds, they are true or substantially true.”
He cited copiously findings of a ministerial committee indicting several subsidiaries of the AGAMs Group which were ordered to refund some money to the state for failing to execute contracts entered into with the state.
Manasseh also pleaded that his statements complained about were fair comment since they bordered on issues of public interest.
Alternatively, Manasseh’s lawyer is arguing the comments were made on occasion of qualified privilege.
He is counter-claiming that Roland Agambire’s action “is an abuse of the process and sheer waste of the court’s precious time and same ought to be punished in exemplary pecuniary costs.”
When the case was called Tuesday, November 24, 2015, lawyers for Mr. Agambire applied for default judgment on account of late filing defence but the application was dismissed.