Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Minister for Finance, has filed a GHC10 million defamation lawsuit against Blessed Godsbrain Smart (aka Captain Smart), the host and presenter of the morning show “Maakye” on Onua TV and Onua FM, for making defamatory claims about him regarding the $3 billion IMF extended loan facility secured by Ghana for a period of three years that was recently approved.
On Friday, June 2, 2023, Bright Okyere Adjekum, Ken Ofori-Atta’s attorney, filed a writ at the high court in Accra. The writ states that the defendant, Blessed Godsbrain Smart, broadcast and published the following words defamatory of the plaintiff on Onua TV, Onua FM, and via the internet on May 22, 2023, during the aforementioned “Maakye” with Captain Smart program:
“Are you aware that Ken Ofori Atta has taken his 10% of the IMF money? Every loan we take, he takes 10%.”
Not only are the aforementioned assertions manifestly false and fabricated, but they were also made with the intention of disparaging the plaintiff. According to Ofori-Atta’s lawyer’s statement of case,
“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 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 read.
Ofori-Atta’s attorney also stated that they wrote to Blessed Godsbrain Smart, also known as Captain Smart, on May 29, 2023, demanding an apology and retracting the defamatory statements, but the defendant failed to do so.
The plaintiff is asking the court for five reliefs in this regard. To begin with, Ken Ofori-Atta is petitioning 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.
On 1 July 2022, the government made known to Ghanaians its decision to engage the IMF for support to mitigate the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine on Ghana’s economy.
From the date of the decision to go to the IMF, the Finance Minister, Ken Ofori-Atta, has been at the forefront of Ghana’s negotiations with the Fund.
On December 12, 2022, the negotiating team led by Ofori-Atta reached a staff-level agreement with the IMF and received board-level approval on May 17, 2023.