A Cape Coast High Court has awarded a GH¢2.3 million damages against the National Tribute Newspaper for defamation against the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast (UCC) and the Director of Physical Development and Estate Management at the University.
The Court presided by Justice Emmanuel Lodoh on Monday gave judgment in favour of the two, the Vice-Chancellor of UCC, Prof. Joseph Ghartey Ampiah and the Director of Physical Development and Estate Management, Philip Ntim Owusu, in a suit brought against the National Tribute Newspaper, its Managing Editor; Mr. John Ackaah Alulbah, publisher; Angenubibi Media Next Work Company Ltd, editor; Douglas Owusu and its News Editor; Francis Arthur for defamation.
The newspaper had made two publications about the Vice Chancellor in its 21st June, 2018 and 12th July, 2018 editions. The publications were titled “UCC VC, Others Hot Over dubious deals as BNI starts investigation” and “VC and others in more troubles”.
The stories alleged that the Vice Chancellor had been involved in wrongdoing in the award of ICT related contracts and appointment of staff of the University.
The paper also alleged that the appointment of the Director of Development was not based on merit.
Counsel for the Defendant, Chris Ackumey, in his statement of defence argued that the Defendants had in an earlier proceeding before the National Media Commission offered an apology and retraction and as such, any judgment of the Court will constitute double jeopardy. Counsel for Plaintiffs, Solomon Faakye, Esq., however, impressed upon the Court that the apology should be ignored because the defamatory statement was actuated by malice.
The learned judge found that the defendants’ conduct was defamatory and accordingly awarded damages of GH¢1.5m in favour of the Vice-Chancellor and GH¢800,000 in favour of the Director of Physical Development and Estate Management. A cost of GHc20,000 was also awarded to each plaintiff.