The former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), Tsatsu Tsikata, has sued the Member of Parliament for Adansi Asokwa, Kobina Tahir Hammond, at an Accra High Court for allegedly making defamatory statements against him.
Mr. Hammond is alleged to have accused Mr. Tsikata of being a criminal who had to be arrested by the Economic and Organised Crime Office (EOCO) for committing criminal offence.
He made the alleged comments on several media platforms in reaction to a decision by the board of directors of the GNPC to pay ex-gratia to Mr. Tsikata 15 years after his service to the corporation.
Mr. Tsikata, in a press release, said though he was yet to receive any amount, Mr. Hammond had, on numerous occasions, called him a criminal because he had been paid some entitlements.
“After over 12 years of service to the GNPC as chief executive, even salary payments during a period when I was on leave in 2001 were not made to me”.
“My entitlements to the Provident Fund were never paid. Not even my own contributions. No end-of-service benefits of any sort were ever paid. A letter I wrote to the chairman of the board of directors at the time was not answered,” he said.
In his statement of claim to the High Court, Mr. Tstikata said the Adansi-Asokwa MP had accused him of being a criminal for receiving some moneys from the GNPC as ex gratia, although he had already been paid for his service to the corporation by former President Jerry John Rawlings.
Mr. Hammond is alleged to have told an Accra-based radio station that the payment of ex-gratia to Mr. Tsikata constituted “criminal liability on the part of the chief executive, the board and, indeed, including the recipient”.
He added that “they should have known that this money was not properly due them. Mr. Tsikata, accomplished lawyer of his standing, didn’t know that he was not entitled to that money? He is receiving stolen goods. He must be looking to going to court to answer for this.”
Mr. Hammond said he suspected that the plaintiff might have been paid something by Mr. Rawlings at the time he (the plaintiff) was leaving office.
Mr. Tsikata indicated in his claim, that he had been seriously injured in his reputation and had been brought into public scandal, odium and contempt by Mr. Hammond’s publication.
The alleged defamatory statements, he said, were made in a sensational way with the intention of causing maximum damage to his reputation.
“The defendant relied on a false premise that plaintiff must have been paid something previously. The allegations made by the defendant of criminal conduct by the plaintiff have been repeated in many media, including newspapers and online media,” he said.
He further stated that Mr. Hammond had granted many interviews on radio and to newspapers, making similar defamatory statements against him, which had been given extensive publicity.
Mr. Tsikata claims against Mr. Hammond for general damages, exemplary damages, cost including legal fees a retraction and apology in the media, a perpetual injunction restraining him (K.T Hammond) from further publishing or causing to be printed, published or distributed the said defamatory words.
Efforts by The Ghanaian Times to reach the Adansi Asokwa MP, who is a former Deputy Minister of Energy, on phone to respond to the suit, proved futile.
By Yaw Kyei