By Oti-Asirifi Mensah Joseph
I have heard threats by the Ghana Football Association and or the president of Ghana Football Association to sue selected media personalities and outlets for defamation. Though I have not spotted any letter or writ to this effect, I find this move as an unamusing joke. I do so bearing in mind, Johnson Asiedu Nketia’s famous remark, “any idiot can go to court in a democracy….”. With no particular stance of that popular comment, i am particularly amazed by the temerity and the thoughtlessness behind this move. Very annoying to say the least.
Did I hear Nyantakyi assembling hundred audio or video recordings as evidences for defamation? A big joke! Yes, the courts are there for redress but the basis for judgment includes but not limited to common sense. Indeed, the law of defamation also give a fine balance between the private right to protect ones reputation and the public right to freedom of speech. The law is not one-dimensional. The fact is that a painful truth no matter how hurtful it is cannot and does not constitute defamation in the face of the law. A defamatory statement must be false, otherwise it is not considered as damaging. Even terribly mean and disparaging things are not defamatory if the show fits. Most opinions do not count as defamatory because they cannot be proved to be objectively false. These statements when made cannot constitute malice in the face of the law. So what is Nyantakyi talking about?
Sharing 15,000 (almost 60,000 Ghana Cedis) per person as ex gratia for Executive Committee Members and turning round to say GFA is broke? What is wrong to refer this as a silly complain or deliberate loot? A league without sponsor, Prize Money for National Women’s League in Ghana is 700 dollars, league matches rescheduled/postponed 48hours to kickoff, electing the FA president before electing the district and regional FA chairmen, an FA whose eleven year tenure no Ghanaian club has won anything in Africa, verifiable evidences of match-fixing in our league, players of teams in the professional league play for nine months without pay, kitchen stools and plastic chairs are used as seats for reserve teams in the first tier leagues, national under 17 banned for the first time for using over-aged players, the name Kwasi Nyantakyi forged as Kofi Nimo in order to siphon FA funds and contract percentage, misusing/embezzling $685,000 dollars under the guise of ‘unclassified and indemnified payments’, paying someone 20,000 dollars and making him sign on an A4 sheet as evidence of receipt, etc. ; endless list of a meticulous orchestration to create loot and share. The constantrepetition of these dirty acts of the Nyantakyi led GFA does not constitute defamation.
Let the courts tell us how best to describe such vampires! This is a body of self-seeking men holding themselves accountable to nobody. They ought not to be entertained by anybody! The media will not be cowered by this sheepish move. We will work to compel Kwasi Nyantakyi and his GFA to exacting accountability and demonstrate serious commitment to the development of the game. After all, the FA is not insulated from public criticism and condemnation
The media has the right to provide information and express an opinion. The media is there to provide relevant rebuttals and corrections to the various misleading and propagandist publications by public and private persons and institutions including Kwasi Nyantakyi and the FA. The media cannot be an extension of the FA Media committee. The media cannot and would not be in bed with the FA. In fact, it should not! Indeed the media should not act in the interest of individuals or institutions or both but for the sake public welfare and accountability. Dishonestly selecting persons who are critical of the create, loot and share attitude of the Ghana Football Association is an irrelevant distraction. This Nyantakyi led FA has proven not to be clean and no amount of threats and intimidation can stop the rallying public condemnation of the conduct and attitude of the regime.
No doubt, Nyantakyi has the right to pick and choose what issues concern him more. But why is Nyantakyi not suing the Telegraph newspaper of the United Kingdom? That is the biggest stage to do image cleansing and get bigger money for damages. Obviously, the Telegraph revelations and the accompanying video evidences were far more scandalous and damaging. They bothered on criminal misconduct by football politicians anchored by the president of Ghana Football Association, head of CAF ethics Committee and lawyer Kwasi Nyantakyi. Worse of it is that it took international dimension and attention. Indeed, it was the leading topical issue of the time relative to football corruption. Every decent mind, every man of integrity and every luminary at law will agree that the findings (allegations) put forth by the Telegraph were demonstrably and quantifiably obnoxious and injurious to the person of Nyantakyi and all those ‘caught’ in the plot. Yet, all that the FA president (who was variously cited in this damning report) could do was to deny it and threaten to sue the Telegraph . Denial and threat, that’s all! Can you imagine? Why this loud silence and laxity in seeking legal redemption? Is Nyantakyi afraid of more or further and worse publications by the Telegraph? Is he afraid of the international legal fracas and the denigration he will suffer? ‘I can’t think far’!
This is a man who has been incriminated by a High Court of Ghana i.e. the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Brazil 2014. Indeed, the Commission further recommended that the GFA president, as a person, be investigated separately from the GFA for unaccounted expenditure totaling $200,000 as imprest from the sports ministry to organise a friendly game during the 2014 World Cup Qualifying period. Another 2million dollars and 1.5milllion dollars given by GNPC and FIFA respectively for friendly matches have not been accounted for by the GFA led by Kwasi Nyantakyi. This an FA that is able to share 577,500 dollars ‘co-efficient’ monies among its members including front desk executives and gardeners just because the Black Stars team is at the World Cup tournament. His administration has ensured the monetization of the Black Stars to the extent that our players have lost the sense of nationalism and patriotism which have been the benchmark and motivation for this national service. All is gone! And you want the media to remain mute? Never!
What Nyantakyi and his FA are seeking is the use of needless threats and legal battles to prevent media from engaging in a lawful demand for transparency and accountability. Their combined threat to gag the media is more provocative than their show of arrogance and dereliction of duty. This is a cheap and a shameful cover-up for the mess that Nyantakyi is superintending! Indeed, the whole thing sums up as an unintelligent ploy to divert media and public attention from the poor show of his administration in the running of our game. No one can gag the media.