The Special Prosecutor, Martin Amidu is demanding an apology from the Minority Spokesperson on Finance, Cassiel Ato Forson, over some comments he allegedly made in relation to a judgment debt issue.
Mr. Amidu in a letter to Mr. Forson dated August 1, 2019, gave a seven-day ultimatum for the apology.
“Should I not hear from you within the next seven days, I will be compelled to advise myself as to the proper action to take to vindicate my hard-won reputation which you have intentionally, maliciously and gravely injured and brought into disrepute.”
Mr. Forson is reported to have questioned the legitimacy of a judgment debt allegedly paid the Special Prosecutor and two other persons.
After the Finance Minister revealed that the Akufo-Addo administration had paid over GHc280 million as judgment debts since it took office in 2017, Mr. Forson told journalists he had information indicating the Special Prosecutor had been paid some judgement debts.
Mr. Forson is quoted as saying:
“We are hearing and on authority we are hearing that they have paid the likes of McDan, they have paid Bankswitch, they have paid even the Special Prosecutor an amount of judgment debt, as to whether they qualify to receive that amount, is something we will have to investigate.”
Mr. Amidu in the letter insisted that he has “never been paid any money by any government in my official capacity or because of my position as the Special Prosecutor.”
He described the comments as “malicious” and “defamatory” adding that he believed observers had interpreted them to mean “that government had unlawfully colluded with me in my capacity as the Special Prosecutor to dubiously pay me some money and other benefits resulting from court orders.”
Mr. Amidu also reminded that a court case in question, which began on January 30, 2013, where he was suing for payment of his salary areas, was done in his personal capacity.
Mr. Amidu also sued for arrears of rent allowance, payment for earned annual leave, terminal benefits, compensation for breach of contract and accrued interest on the said sums from the date of accrual to the date of payment.
“Nonetheless, you [Mr. Forson] chose out of malice and with the intention to defame me in person and in my current office as Special Prosecutor to refer to me by the title of my current appointment as a public officer instead of my personal name in making and publishing your defamatory statement about my person and integrity.”
Below is the full letter Martin Amidu wrote to Cassiel Ato Forson:
HON. CASSIEL ATO BAAH FORSON, MP
MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT FOR
DEMAND FOR UNQUALIFIED APPOLOGY FOR DEFAMATORY PUBLICATIONS BY YOU IN THE MEDIA ALLEGING AND INSINUATING THAT SUMS OF MONEY PAID TO OR EXPENDED IN FAVOUR OF MARTIN A. B. K. AMIDU BY GOVERNMENT OF GHANA PURSUANT TO THE TERMS OF SETTLEMENT AND THE CONSENT JUDGMENT AND ORDER(S) BY THE HIGH COURT IN SUIT NO: AP 159/2013 BETWEEN MARTIN A. B. K. AMIDU VRS. THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL WERE JUDGMENT DEBTS DUBIOUSLY PAID TO THE SPECIAL PROSECUTOR BY THE GOVERNMENT OF GHANA.
On 12th July 2019 the Minister of Finance, in answering questions in Parliament, was reported to have stated that the Government had paid over GH₡280 million since it assumed office in 2017 out of the nation’s judgment debt which stood at over GH₡679 million. The Minister of Finance in answering those questions did not mention the names of the institution or individual persons to whom the alleged judgment debts were owed or paid.
In spite of the refusal or failure of the Minister for Finance to identify the organizations or persons to whom the alleged judgment debts were paid when demanded a breakdown of the particulars of the payments on the floor of Parliament, you Hon. Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, chose to call and address a press conference outside the floor and chamber of Parliament, where you had immunity, immediately thereafter in which you intentionally and maliciously named only three entities about whom you made the following statements, amongst others:
“We are hearing and on authority we are hearing that they have paid the likes of McDan, they have paid Bankswitch, they have paid even the Special Prosecutor an amount of judgment debt, as to whether they qualify to receive that amount, is something we will have to investigate.
And that is why I requested the Minister responsible for Finance to give us a break down…I also don’t think that in the case of the Special Prosecutor …I hear he went to court, there was a default judgment and the Special Prosecutor has been paid some amount for the fact that he was wrongfully sacked as a minister of state whether that qualifies as judgment debt or not we want to seek further and better particulars…” (Emphasis supplied).
The interview you granted to the Parliamentary Press corps while standing with them outside the chamber of Parliament in which you made the said international, deliberate, malicious and defamatory statements about me and two other entities have been published on air, repeated and discussed extensively on several of the print and electronic media. Your voice recording has also been widely played and discussed in the media while video recording have been published and also discussed on the electronic media including YouTube.
In making and causing the defamatory materials to be published about me in my current official capacity as the Special Prosecutor, you as a former Deputy Minister for Finance from 2013 to 6th January 2017 and the current Ranking Member of the Finance Committee of Parliament knew that I had not obtained any judgment or order(s) from any court of competent jurisdiction in my capacity as the Special Prosecutor to be paid any judgment debt since my nomination, approval and appointment to the Office of the Special Prosecutor. Nonetheless, you chose out of malice and with the intention to defame me in person and in my current office as Special Prosecutor to refer to me by the title of my current appointment as a public officer instead of my personal name in making and publishing your defamatory statement about my person and integrity.
As Deputy Minister for Finance in the previous Government from 2013 to 6th January 2017 you knew that I commenced an action in my personal name on 30th January 2013 in Suit No. AP/159/13in the case of Martin A. B. K. Amidu vs the Attorney-General seeking an order for the payment of my salary arrears, arrears of rent allowance, payment for earned annual leave, terminal benefits, compensation for breach of contract with accrued interest on the said sums from the date of accrual to the date of payment, amongst others.
The Government you served through your National Security Advisor, Hon. Alhaji Baba Kamara, contacted me on 26th December 2013 on behalf of your Government to have the matter settled out of Court. I insisted on dealing only with the Attorney-General. Your National Security Advisor subsequently got your Attorney-General to make contact with me and proposed an attempt at an amicable settlement which I accepted. The proposal was formally brought to the attention of the Court by the Attorney-General’s representative and with my concurrence the matter was adjourned for us to try a settlement.
The result was the signing of Terms of Settlement by Hon. Dr. D. A. Ayine for the Defendant, on behalf of the Attorney-General and by myself in my personal name as the Plaintiff on 29th August 2014. The Terms of Settlement was filed in the High Court on 2nd September 2014 by the Attorney-General and the High Court adopted the Terms of Settlement as a Consent Judgment in the case with cost of GHC6, 000.00 awarded in my favour on 4th September 2014. In my personal capacity and name as the Plaintiff I filed an entry of judgment in the High Court on 11th September 2014.
The Government that you then served committed both of us to a confidential non-disclosure agreement, in the teeth of protests from me, in order to prevent the situation where other appointees who had been underpaid would ask for their salaries and other benefits to be reviewed. That explains why the figures were in the possession of the parties but not stated in the Terms of Settlement or the Consent Judgment in the High Court.
The Government you served as Deputy Minister for Finance paid me by Bank of Ghana cheque number 10186631473188 about two-thirds of the agreed total computed sum known to both parties leaving an outstanding balance evidenced in writing by a letter No D45/SF.169/13 dated 11th September 2015 addressed to me in person from the Attorney-General signed on her behalf by the Acting Solicitor General. Mrs. Helen A. A. Ziwu to which was attached letter No. SCR/PF/A/251 dated 10th September 2015 addressed to the Attorney-General by the then Chief of Staff and signed on his behalf by the Director for Finance and Administration, Mr. H. M. Wood. Mr. H. M. Wood not only led your Government’s delegation from the then Presidency that joined the Attorney-General’s team which negotiated the Terms of Settlement with me but has been for some time now the Acting Chief Director at the Presidency of the current Government.
The short payment made by your then Ministry of Finance leaving about a third of the balance of the computed sum outstanding, resulted in several letters being written to impress upon your Ministry to pay up that balance. The then Deputy Minister for Justice, who is still your colleague in Parliament, Dr. Dominic A. Ayine (MP), wrote two letter both with No. D45/SF.169/13 dated 23rd September 2015 addressed to the Chief of Staff, Mr. Julius Debrah, and to your then Hon. Minister separately; the then Chief of Staff also signed letter No. SCR/PF/A/251 dated 8th October 2015 to your then Hon. Minister requesting him to pay the named balance; and the Attorney-General wrote letter No D45/SF.169/13 dated 13th May 2015, signed for and on her behalf by the Chief State Attorney who led the negotiating team from the Office of the Attorney-General, to your then Hon. Minister as a reminder to the Chief of Staff’s letter already referred to, amongst other letters.
Other orders of the High Court as contained in the Consent Judgment also remained outstanding and efforts were being made by your then Government through the Attorney-General and others to comply with them. In the interim your Government continued sending your National Security Advisor, Alhaji Baba Kamara, to me with promises to honour the orders of the Court and urging me to keep the confidentiality of the figures behind the Terms of Settlement. Indeed, as late as 5th December 2016, your National Security Advisor assured me in my residence that your Government will ensure compliance with the remaining orders of the Court should you win the elections the next day. I told him politely that winning the elections the next day was impossible from the mode of the country. My final letter to the Attorney-General on the outstanding matter from the orders of the Court was dated 21st December 2016 and copied to your National Security Advisor.
I have never been paid any sums of money either by your own Government or the present Government which is not covered by the Terms of Settlement and Consent Judgment. The figures which were negotiated and known to both parties were reduced into writing and were communicated to your then Ministry of Finance by the Attorney-General and the then Chief of Staff. You are deemed as the Deputy Minister of Finance of the Ministry of Finance which the Terms of Settlement and Consent Judgment were made available for purposes of executing the orders of the Court to have known the foregoing matter that came to the knowledge of your then Ministry through the official float file circulated to you in that Ministry from time to time.
In view of the fact that you stated in your interview that you were speaking on authority, I wish to remind you that the Acting Solicitor-General and the Acting Director of Public Prosecutions at the time whom your Government appointed on or about 16th December 2016 to their substantive positions without the posts being advertised are still in Office and I have referred to the Acting Solicitor-General’s letter in this letter to let you know that she would have been a better authority to brief you accurately if you had not intended to defame me needlessly.
I have never been paid any money by any Government in my official capacity or because of my position as the Special Prosecutor. Your intentional, malicious and deliberate defamatory words used to describe any payments to me of any part of the outstanding orders of the Court given on 4th September 2014 were understood by ordinary and right thinking members of the public to mean and you intended them to mean that the Government unlawfully had colluded with me in my capacity as the Special Prosecutor to dubiously pay me some money and other benefits resulting from Court orders. The words you used in describing my supposed dubious collusion with the present Government to satisfy outstanding orders accepted and left by your Government also expressly and by innuendoes created in the minds of right thinking member of the public that I lacked the high moral integrity to be the Special Prosecutor. The cumulative effect of your interviews to the press and which you intended to be carried on both the print and electronic media were maliciously, deliberately and knowingly intended to bring my hard won reputation as a person of high moral character and proven integrity earned in decades of dedicated service in several public offices into disrepute in the eyes of right thinking persons in the society.
I am by this letter, therefore, demanding an unqualified apology and retraction from you, Cassiel Ato Baah Forson, of your defamatory statements and publications about me alleging the dubious payments of judgment debts to me as the Special Prosecutor within seven days. You are to also publicly acknowledge in the said apology and retraction that the detailed figures to be paid to me pursuant to the Terms of Settlement and Consent Judgment were the subject of a non-disclosure agreement between your then Government and me that was why the agreed figures were not included by your Government in the Terms of Settlement and Consent Judgment.
Should I not hear from you within the next seven days I will be compelled to advise myself as to the proper action to take to vindicate my hard won reputation which you have intentionally, maliciously and gravely injured, and brought into disrepute.
MARTIN A. B. K. AMIDU
Cc: HON. ATTORNEY-GENERAL – ACCRA
HON. ALHAJI BABA KAMARA – FORMER NSA-NOTH LEGON, ACCRA