The Mayor of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije, has file a writ in the Fast Track High Court against Larry Alans Dogbe, Editor, and three others of the Herald Newspaper for defamation.
The others include, Abdul Razak, Cecil Mensah and Prime Mark Company Limited.
According to the Statement of Claim on the writ filed on 15th October 2014, the Plaintiff, Dr Okoe Vanderpuije, says, on 8th September 2014, the Defendants caused defamatory and untrue statement about him with his photo to be published in the Herald Newspaper on pages, 3, 4, 5 and 13.
The said publication, which was carried under the Headline, “AMA BOSS SELLS SCHOOLS TO GAMBLERS…………….Football Field Taken Over, Teachers and Students, Toilet Demolished By Billionaire Developers,” the Plaintiff said, was untrue, and that the Defendants are in breach of care owed to the Plaintiff in negligence by failing to exercise due care and attention by failing to investigate the truth of the allegations.
The Statement of claim also indicated that, the said publications claimed that the Plaintiff had sold the said land to his Cousin, Mr Robert Coleman who is also the Communication’s Manager of Zoomlion.
The story read in part, “Residents of Kotobabi Down in the Ayawaso Central Constituency of the Greater Accra Region, are fuming with rage over the decision by the Accra Metropolitan Assembly (AMA) to sell portions of the Kotobabi Cluster of schools land to a private developer for the construction a modern gambling center.
A visit to the school over the weekend, revealed brisk construction work ongoing on the state acquired school land. A huge tract of land in the middle of two schools ? Kotobabi 7 Junior Secondary School (JHS) and Kotobabi 5 Primary, has been dug by the private developer and concrete is being cast.”
“……Dr. Alfred Oko Vanderpuije, the AMA mayor, when spoken to confirmed to The Herald that he was aware of a proposal to develop the state land, but it is currently on his table for consideration.
But The Herald discovered during the visit that already, a toilet facility meant for the students and their teachers to ease themselves has been pulled down, with the students and their teachers having no place to defecate in this era of Cholera outbreak, which has claimed over a hundred lives.”
Also, there was another publication, under the Headline, “LAZY AMA BOSS CAUGHT IN MASSIVE NEPOTISM………….Allocates Kotobabi Gov’t School Lands To His Cousin & Turkish Gamblers,….” for which the Mayor indicated, were defamatory.
However, the story said, “The Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Metropolitan Assembly Dr Alfred Okoe Vanderpuije has been caught in a massive nepotism in the line duty and in administering the properties of the Assembly. Dr Vanderpuije has sold portions of the Kotobabi cluster of schools land t a private developer, who is his cousin and his partners from Turkey for the construction of a modern gambling centre.”
According to the writ, the Plaintiff said, to publish that he has sold state lands to his cousin and friends at knock down prices and dissipating state lands is to infer that he (Plaintiff) is not only deceptive and dishonestly abusing and taking unfair advantage of his position but also that his character is corrupt and suspected to be corruptively using his position as mayor of Accra to engage in corrupt acts so as to unjustly enrich himself.
The writ also noted that, the Plaintiff said he has his personality damaged since the Defendants acted maliciously in publishing such defamatory and untrue words designed to cause hatred, hurt, ridicule, shame, public disgrace, humiliation and has tarnished his hard earned reputation and status in Ghana and abroad.
The Plaintiff, Dr Okoe Vanderpuije is seeking for General damages for libel contained in the two articles, an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendants from publishing, printing and distributing the said defamatory words.
He is also seeking the Court for an order directing the Defendants to pay Exemplary charges of Four Million Ghana Cedis (GH?4,000,000) for damages caused his reputation.
Also, an order for retraction and apology in the Defendant’s Herald Newspaper with the same prominence as the defamatory publication together with four publications on the front and back pages of the same paper for four consecutive weeks.