Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, the immediate past Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), has sued The Ghanaian Observer and Despite Music Production, operators of Peace FM, for libel. In a writ filed in the High Court of Justice on 28th February 2019 Dr Opuni seeks general and exemplary damages of GH¢10,000,000.00 (Ten million Ghana Cedis).
In its Volume 14, No. 018 of Monday, 18th February -Tuesday, 19thFebruary, 2019, The Ghanaian Observer newspaper had reported under the caption “COCOBOD FLOORS OPUNI, SEIDU AGONGO- Saves Almost $50m In Shady Fertilizer Deal” that “ The [arbitral] Tribunal ruled that the two 2015 contracts and 2016 contracts executed with [one of the companies of Seidu Agongo] arose out of a “ fundamentally fraudulent report” generated by an officer of CRIG, Dr. Afrifa (the Chief Scientist), in collusion with Dr. Opuni ….and intended to unjustly enrich themselves”. The same story was carried on the online news portal of Peace Fm.
In his court action, Dr. Opuni rejects these accusations as totally false and evil, noting that what has been attributed to the Tribunal is not only mischievous but a total fabrication. He states that contrary to the content of the defamatory publications against him the Tribunal in fact “dismissed [the] allegations of fraud or corruption” and found no “ compelling evidence of collusion to commit fraudulent or illegal acts”.
In his statement of claim, Dr Opuni states that he has never engaged in any corrupt act or colluded with anyone to defraud the state during his tenure as the CEO of COCOBOD. And the false publications by the defendants were designed to cause and did in fact cause him embarrassment, public ridicule and odium. He adds that the defendants were unpardonably reckless and malicious in their conduct with no regard for the truth in a well-orchestrated campaign to prejudice his right to a fair trial in the ongoing criminal trial against him and Seidu Agongo, the CEO of Agricult Ltd.
Dr. Opuni further seeks a retraction and an apology and an injunction against the defendants from ever publishing such malicious falsehoods against him.