Ayorkor Botchwey Sues Africawatch $20m

Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey and Steve Mallory

The
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey,
has filed a $20 million libel suit against Africawatch magazine.

The
action is in respect of a publication titled: “Ghana Exclusive: the Inside
Story of the Oslo Scandal Conspiracy to Steal, Ayorkor Botchwey’s lies exposed,
Nana Akufo-Addo’s defence falls flat,” by the magazine.

The
New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Anyaa Sowutuom has also
attached Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, National Democratic Congress (NDC) MP for
North Tongu Constituency in the Volta Region, in the suit.

The
suit cites General Media Strategies INC, publishers of Africawatch as first
defendant; Steve Mallory, Editor of the magazine as second defendant; and Samuel
Okudzeto Ablakwa, as the third defendant.

In
her statement of claim, the plaintiff averred 
that in June 2019, her attention was drawn to a defamatory cover page
story on the defendant’s Africawatch magazine with the headline: “Ghana
Exclusive: the Inside Story of the Oslo Scandal Conspiracy to Steal, Ayorkor Botchwey’s
lies exposed, Nana Akufo-Addo’s defence falls flat.”

According
to the Foreign Affairs Minister, “The third defendant (Ablakwa) republished the
defamatory matter – the subject of this litigation – on Facebook which said the
publication has since generated various comments on Facebook.”

She
averred that the entire article is full of factual inaccuracies and clearly
portrays the malicious intent of the defendants to tarnish her hard-won
reputation.

The
plaintiff reiterated that pursuant to a decision of the Government of Ghana to
open a foreign mission in Oslo, a five-member team of senior officers were
dispatched to Oslo to undertake feasibility studies to procure a chancery,
ambassadors and staff residence and other allied facilities.

The
plaintiff said that there were laid-down procedures within the ministry that
govern the acquisition of property on behalf of the state before any financial
commitment to contract.

According
to the plaintiff, until such procedures were exhausted, there cannot be any
financial commitment by or on behalf of the ministry in the purchase of any
property for the state such as the property giving rise to the instant suit.

The
foreign minister, therefore, averred that she had not committed Ghana to any
financial obligation to any property owner in Oslo in respect of a future
chancery, ambassadors and staff residence in Oslo.

Further,
she said President Akufo-Addo had not played any role that was criminal in
nature for the defendants to seek to suggest so in their publication.

Again,
she argued that the entire article was totally inconsistent with the headline
and it showed the malicious intent of the defendants.

“The
plaintiff understands the defendant’s statement that she has inflated the cost
of building to a whopping $16.5 million to mean that she is criminally minded
and plans to dupe the people of Ghana,” she stated.

Claims

The
plaintiff is, therefore, praying the court to declare that the defendants’
publication that her involvement in the Oslo property is “a shameful conspiracy
to steal from the state,” is defamatory of the plaintiff and same was made
without basis.

She
is seeking an order of injunction on the defendants, their agents, from further
making defamatory publications against her and a further order on the
defendants to retract the publication and render an unqualified apology in the
same manner as the publication.

The
minister is also seeking compensatory damages of $20 million against the
defendants as well as general damages.

Leave of Court

Meanwhile,
an Accra High Court has ordered lawyer for the minister to serve the magazine
and its editor through their New York address in the United States.

This follows an application by the lawyer, Gary Nimako, seeking leave of the court to do so.

Gibril Abdul Razak



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