Ghana President Demands Apology, Retraction From Al Jazeera Over ‘Gold Mafia’ Documentary
Brian Rungano Temba
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo is demanding a retraction and an apology from Al Jazeera for the airing of the documentary – “Gold Mafia”, which the Presidency describes as “inaccurate” and “unfair” in relation to how President Akufo-Addo is linked to the documentary.
A four-part investigation by Al Jazeera’s Investigative Unit (I-Unit) was recently released.
In a letter dated April 25, 2023, signed by the Secretary to the President at the Office of the President, Nana Bediatuo Asante, President Akufo-Addo indicated that the documentary by Al Jazeera contained “spurious” and “unsubstantiated allegations” against the President and the Government of Ghana.
It said the documentary in question made baseless claims that the President acted as a lawyer for Mr Alistair Mathias and implied that the President benefited unlawfully from an alleged $100 million state infrastructure contract purportedly awarded to Mr Mathias.
That, the President said, “In his letter dated 11th April 2023, responding to Al Jazeera’s letter of 2nd April 2023, which was received on 6th April 2023, containing these vague and defamatory allegations, the Legal Counsel to the President, Mr Kow Abaka Essuman, acting on the instructions of the President, informed Al Jazeera that the President had not been in private practice since the year 2000 and that the President had no recollection of acting as a lawyer, either personally or through his law firm, Messrs Akufo-Addo, Prempeh and Co, for a Mr Alistair Mathias or his company, Guldrest Resources.”
It added, “In those circumstances, further and better particulars were demanded from Al Jazeera to respond adequately to the allegations made in Al Jazeera’s letter. Al Jazeera was thus requested to provide information on the period for which the President allegedly provided legal representation to Mr Alistair Mathias or his company, Guldrest Resources. Furthermore, Al Jazeera was requested to provide details of the “USD 100 million tender for state infrastructure”, allegedly given to Mr Mathias, which he outsourced and kept a percentage in offshore accounts, as stated in the letter as well as information on how the President personally benefited unlawfully from the alleged “USD 100 million tenders for state infrastructure.”
According to him, “Al Jazeera refused or failed to provide these details as requested and went ahead with the documentary’s broadcast. At the end of the documentary, a terse text was shown, contradicting the content of the documentary.
Additionally, the subject of the documentary, Mr Alistair Mathias, denied what he said in the documentary to Al Jazeera’s investigative journalist.
In light of these blatant denials by Mr Alistair Mathias and the response from Mr Essuman, those parts of the documentary ought not to have been included because those statements were not true.”