NTC wins defamation case

Samuel Odum, a native of  Kwabeng in the Atiwa District of the Eastern Region, is to pay a total of GH¢6,800 to the New Times Corporation, publishers of The Ghanaian Times and The Weekly Spectator, as costs, following the dismissal of a law suit filed against the corporation and Atiwa Rural Bank at a Koforidua High Court in 2003.

The plaintiff who was dismissed by his employer, the Atiwa Rural Bank for “gross misconduct and dishonesty” filed a writ at Koforidua High Court against the bank for wrongful dismissal and joined Mr. Castro Zangina-Tong, a Chief Reporter, who wrote the story as well as the Editor and the New Times Corporation for publishing the story on the basis of “malicious publication,” and therefore, sought to claim GH¢ 35,000 (350 million old cedis) as damages from the defendants.

But the court, presided over by Mr. Justice Henry A. Kwofie, an Appeal Court Judge, who sat as an additional High Court judge, and the third superior court judge to preside over the 12-year-old case last Friday, dismissed the suit because Samuel Odum failed to adduce evidence to back his claims.

The plaintiff who had always exuded confidence during the trial in anticipation of a “bumper financial harvest” from the defendants gnashed his teeth when the tables finally turned against him and he was told to pay GH¢4,000 as cost to the 2nd, defendants ie Castro Zangina-Tong, the Editor of The Ghanaian Times, and the New Times Corporation as well as GH¢2,000 cost to the Atiwa Rural Bank, first defendant.

Mr. Odum already had an outstanding GH¢2,800 cost awarded in favour of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendant by the court, thus bringing the total amount he to be paid to the “Times Group” to GH¢6,500.

Mr. Kofi Dometi Sokpor, Counsel for the New Times Corporation, asked the court to award GH¢10,000 cost against the plaintiff for wasting everybody’s time for the past 11 years but Mr. Berdie Agohavia, who stood in for Mr. E. K. Nyanudor, substantive counsel for Mr. Odoom, pleaded with Mr. Justice Kwofie to tamper justice with mercy and suggested that his “client” would instead pay Gh¢ 4,000 to the New Times Corporation and additional GH¢2,000 to the 1st defendant, (Atiwa Rural Bank) as cost.

What triggered the joinder was that The Ghanaian Times carried a story captioned “Atiwa Rural Bank makes 302 million old cedis profit” in its business page of October 16, 2002, edition of the Ghanaian Times which was written by Mr. Castro Zangina-Tong who was then the Eastern Regional Correspondent and was invited by the management of the bank to cover its 14th Annual General Meeting (AGM) which was addressed by Mr. Daniel O.K. Owusu, a deputy Chief Manager of the Banking Supervision Department, Bank of Ghana, at Kwabeng, Head office of the Atiwa Rural Bank and now the district capital of the Atiwa District.

At the meeting, the late Board Chairman, Nana Adom Apau Ampadu, in his address brought to fore the dismissal of Samuel Odum an accountant whose conduct was inimical to the progress of the bank and the paper reported what he said verbatim.

Quoting from the address, “The directors of the bank are mindful of its duty to ensure that discipline reigns supreme in the operations of the bank.”

“To this end, the board had an unpleasant duty to dismiss Mr. Samuel Odum, an accountant, for gross indiscipline, misconduct and dishonesty”.

Following the publication, the plaintiff first sued the Atiwa Rural Bank at a Koforidua High Court demanding 350 million old cedis as damages which he brought a copy of the writ personally to this reporter for publication and it was done.

During the trial, this reporter was able to produce a copy of the late Board Chairman’s address he read at the AGM in October 2002, which contained the dismissal of the plaintiff and tendered in evidence when he (Castro Zangina-Tong) opened his defence in July 4, 2014.

Mr. Odum who also mounted the witness box during the trial, told the court that The Ghanaian Times by its publication, referred to him as a thief and that his hard-earned reputation had been dented by the newspaper.

Interestingly, all the witnesses who had worked with the plaintiff and came to the court to testify on behalf of the bank, related the circumstances that led to the dismissal of their colleague by the board.

From Castro Zangina-Tong,

Koforidua 

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