May 30, 2024

The Ghanaian public eagerly awaits clarity on the timing of any potential legal action against Al Jazeera by President Akufo-Addo. The anticipation stems from a year-long standoff sparked by Al Jazeera’s airing of the controversial documentary “Gold Mafia,” which implicated the President in connections with illicit gold trading.

April 25, 2024, marked the first anniversary since the Presidency demanded a retraction and apology from Al Jazeera over the documentary. Despite demands and threats of legal action, President Akufo-Addo has yet to initiate any lawsuits against the media giant.

Responding to the demands, Nana Bediatuo Asante, the Executive Secretary of the President, issued an official statement demanding Al Jazeera retract the documentary and apologize to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo. The letter cited perceived inaccuracies and unfair accusations against the President and the Ghanaian government.

Despite the pressure from the Presidency, Al Jazeera stood firm, refusing to issue an apology or retract the documentary. In correspondence with JoyNews’ Kwaku Asante, Al Jazeera clarified that the documentary did not make the allegations claimed by the Presidency and thus saw no grounds for an apology.

“We have responded to the letter from the president’s office, correcting some parts of its content and clarifying various points. Since the documentary did not allege what the president’s Office has suggested it did, we will not be apologizing or removing it from publication,” excerpts of the Al Jazeera response stated.

Despite the demands for an apology and the looming threat of legal action, President Akufo-Addo has refrained from initiating any legal recourse against Al Jazeera. This delay has prompted questions among observers, with some speculating that the President’s legal team may be carefully evaluating the most strategic approach to the matter.

Observers speculate on the reasons behind the delay. While some suggest strategic considerations, others ponder the global implications of such legal action. The standoff underscores the delicate balance between media freedom and political accountability, leaving the public questioning when, if ever, the Al Jazeera lawsuit will materialize.

People are questioning the delay because individuals within the President’s circle have a history of swiftly resorting to legal action against media outlets.

For instance, in June 2021, Edward Akufo-Addo (known as Bumpty), a blood brother to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, instructed his lawyers to file a defamation suit against Kwabena Bobbie Ansah, the Class Media Group, and two others.

Similarly, in February 2022, First Lady Rebecca Akufo-Addo caused the arrest and prosecution of Kwabena Bobie Ansah, the host of the Citizen Show on Accra FM, for allegedly publishing false news about her.

Additionally, in 2020, Gabby Otchere-Darko successfully sued America-based Kevin Taylor for defamation. Taylor was ordered to pay ¢1 million in damages for defamatory comments concerning the terminated Power Distribution Service (PDS) deal.

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