By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
I was first alerted to the New/Free Press article by a pal resident in the Washington, DC area who was so distraught about the dismissal of the Akufo-Addo/New Patriotic Party (NPP) Election 2012 Presidential Petition that any information that seemed to criminally impugn the credibility and integrity of any of the disagreeable members of the Atuguba-presided nine-jury Supreme Court panel that heard the case, came as a justifiable excuse to assuage his post-verdict contracted case of migraine and acute loss of apetite.
I promptly assured my pal that inasmuch as I also badly wanted the Akufo-Addo-led NPP to emerge victorious in its epic tussle with the Mahama-led National Democratic Congress (NDC), I absolutely failed to see any credibility in the story that had been sourced to the New/Free Press , which obscenely sought to so cheaply and snidely involve the Asantehene in a payola scandal entailing at least two of the nine Supreme Court judges that heard the Akufo-Addo/NPP petition.
I also predicted that whoever wrote and/or published the story was in deep trouble, beacuse I fairly accurately knew the temperament of my Manhyia kinsfolk pretty well; in other words, this was not the first and last time that the public would be hearing about the matter. I also added that the patently slanderous article was “too Ghanaian to be true.” The latter allusion, of course, was to the general sloppiness of the caliber of the way and manner in which the age-old, honorable art and profession of journalism is practiced in the country.
And so it hardly comes as any surprise that the Asantehene should be “suing” for justice and the clearance and restoration of his name, reputation and dignity. What I don’t understand and/or put any remarkable purchase upon is the alibi by Ms. Emma Lawson, the editor of the New/Free Press that she was “out of town for two weeks,” that is, during the entire period that the damning publication was in public circulation, and was not even aware of any such publication having been sourced to her newspaper, an exclusively print and newsstand-oriented publication.
That her newspaper has no online edition, does not in any way exonerate Ms. Lawson from legal culpability. Unless, of course, hers is a one-woman enterprise, somebody in her office, or on her staff, ought to have promptly informed her wherever she was spending her time in the country, of this most inexcusably slanderous publication. Unless Ms. Lawson could also credibly claim that she was completely unaware of the fact that the Asantehene is the most influential traditional ruler in the country, as well as the most globally recognized modern Ghanaian chieftain.
What I am trying to get at here is that the editor-publisher of the New/Free Press had more than a fortnight to deny any knowledge of the aforesaid publication and did not. Now what is left for police investigators, or the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service (GPS), to do is to meticulously surf the Internet and track down the “IPS-Number” of the real culprit, or mischief-maker, behind the patently defamatory article seeking to bring the name and stature of Otumfuo Osei-Tutu II into abject disrepute.
For me, also, what made the story inescapably suspicious had to do with the timing; and also the rather facile presumption that the alleged Supreme Court judges in the Akufo-Addo/NPP case would so naively, and even stupidly, consent to the criminal reception of as huge a sum of bribery money as $5 million (American Dollars), apiece, and then so thoughtlessly consent to having these sums deposited in locally recognizable banking institutions and readily trackable bank accounts. And, indeed, it was on the strength of the preceding farcical scenario that I told my Washington, DC-resident pal – he had not eaten his dinner for three-straight evenings! – that I could not bring myself down to investing any iota of verity or credibility in the story.
You see, I ordinarily would not expect people smart enough to sit on our august Supreme Court to consent to an indulgence in any acts of criminality that were not only readily traceable, but could also culminate in permanently tarnished and terminated careers, and possible immurement for life. I hope Ms. Lawson gets exonerated from any career-ruining charges, assuming that her alibi holds up; and also that the real criminal mastermind behind the story is promptly brought to book.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D.
Department of English
Nassau Community College of SUNY
Garden City, New York