GNPC-Aker deal: Withdraw, apologize or I sue – Ato Forson to Herald on bribery allegation

Lawyers of Member of Parliament for Ajumako-Enyan-Esiam Constituency in the Central Region, Casiel Ato Forson have rejected the bribery allegation against their client made by the Herald Newspaper in relation to the agreement between the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) and Aker Energy.

They have asked editors of the newspaper to withdraw the allegation and apologize to the former Deputy Minister of Finance, else they will sue the publishers.

The Newspaper had reported on its front page of the Friday, September 3 2021 edition headline “CSO Names Haruna Iddrisu and Ato Forson in GNPC Bribery Scandal.”

But a statement written on behalf of Mr Forson by his lawyer, James Mensah Kulley who is also counsel for the Minority Leader Haruna Iddrisu, said “it is evident from the publication referred to that they were made recklessly and maliciously without regard to the truth, with the vicious intent to destroy the hard earned reputations and to bring their names into disrepute, ridicule and public hatred.

“I am by this letter demanding and this I hereby do that you publish a withdrawal of the publication and render an unqualified apology to my clients on or before 6th September 2021.

“Should you fail to publish a withdrawal of the said publication and render an unqualified apology to my client on or before the 6th of September 2021, I have their further instructions without recourse to you, to commence legal action against you and your publishers to redeem the image of my clients.”

In an earlier statement reacting to the publication, Mr Iddrisu who is also Tamale South lawmaker said the publication is nothing but falsehood calculated at tarnishing his hard-won reputation and bring him into disrepute and public opprobrium.

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“I wish to place on record that the publication under reference is spurious, malicious, and baseless and a figment of the imagination of the ‘ghost’ writer. The fact that the writer mysteriously omitted his by-line shows his or her malevolent intent and points to the fact that the publication is a fabrication. I wonder why the writer will want to hide under the cloak of anonymity if he or she were confident of his news story.

“For purposes of emphasis, I have at no time participated in or been privy to the issues, dealings and processes that have been alleged against me. The said publication is nothing but falsehood calculated at tarnishing my hard-won reputation and bring me into disrepute and public opprobrium. It also exposes the general lack of knowledge and understanding of the workings of parliament.  

“I entreat all well-meaning and discerning members of the public to read in-between the lines and see this publication as exactly what it is – malicious, mischievous and a pack of lies. I also implore my colleague members of the NDC Caucus in Parliament to disregard this attempt by what is obviously the work of unseen hands to create disfavor and disaffection for me personally.

“It is also a premeditated effort to place a wedge among us as the Minority Group, cause disunity within our Caucus and make us incapable of holding government accountable for its policies and decisions – which is one of our key responsibilities.

“I demand that The Herald retracts the said publication and render an unqualified apology with the same prominence as the said malicious publication within 24 hours failing which notice is hereby served that I have instructed my lawyers to assess all possible grounds that this publication offers for a legal suit against The Herald newspaper, the writer of the story and all the hidden faces behind such a wicked and politically motivated publication against my person.”

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The GNPC through its Exploration and Production Company Limited (GNPC Explorco) intends to buy 37% stake in Deep Water Tano/Cape Three Points (DWT/CTP) operated by Aker Energy Ghana Limited and 70% stake in the South Deep Water Tano (SDWT) operated by AGM Petroleum Ghana Limited.

To that end, Energy Minister Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh requested parliament to make an approval that will enable the GNPC to purchase stakes in oil blocks of Aker Energy and AGM Petroleum.

This transaction has divided the front of Civil society Organizations in Ghana with some saying it is bad whereas others are for it.

The CSOs believe that the valuation used a higher value of about 65 dpb, and that Ghana is not likely to achieve that  price in the  medium to long term  and therefore, it makes the  transaction disadvantageous  to the country.

By Laud Nartey||Ghana