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Gov’t spokesperson runs from his US$500,000 lies against Lordina Mahama

A Spokesperson for the Akufo-Addo government, Kofi Tonto, has in a surprising turn of events, fled from his sensational claim that Lordina Mahama, the wife of former President John Dramani Mahama, carried a cash sum of US$500,000.00 in her bag to the USA for sharing.

Tonto’s U-turn, comes after a letter from his lawyers, Parkwood & Mossane, addressed to Tony Lithur of Lithur Brew and Company, apologized to the former First Lady for his baseless accusations.

His lawyers led by one Kofi Owusu Boateng, issued the apology in a letter dated December 11, 2023, saying “We act as Solicitors for and on behalf of Mr Kofi Tonto (herein simply referred to as “our Client”, and we write in respect of the above subject matter.

“Our Client has referred to us your letter dated 5th December 2023, on the above subject. After study and consultation with our Client, we hold his instructions to respond to same by communicating his retraction and unequivocal apology to your Client, the former First Lady for the comments complained of adding, “please do not hesitate to contact me at kboateng@parkwoodmossane.com should there be the need.

The apology by Tonto, who was brought back from the US where he served as the Head of Information and Public Affairs in Ghana’s Embassy, was prompted by a letter from Mr Lithur, dated December 5, 2023, demanding a retraction and apology on behalf of Mrs Mahama.

A Spokesperson for the Akufo-Addo government, Kofi Tonto, has in a surprising turn of events, fled from his sensational claim that Lordina Mahama, the wife of former President John Dramani Mahama, carried a cash sum of US$500,000.00 in her bag to the USA for sharing.

Tonto’s U-turn, comes after a letter from his lawyers, Parkwood & Mossane, addressed to Tony Lithur of Lithur Brew and Company, apologized to the former First Lady for his baseless accusations.

His lawyers led by one Kofi Owusu Boateng, issued the apology in a letter dated December 11, 2023, saying “We act as Solicitors for and on behalf of Mr Kofi Tonto (herein simply referred to as “our Client”, and we write in respect of the above subject matter.

“Our Client has referred to us your letter dated 5th December 2023, on the above subject. After study and consultation with our Client, we hold his instructions to respond to same by communicating his retraction and unequivocal apology to your Client, the former First Lady for the comments complained of adding, “please do not hesitate to contact me at kboateng@parkwoodmossane.com should there be the need.

The apology by Tonto, who was brought back from the US where he served as the Head of Information and Public Affairs in Ghana’s Embassy, was prompted by a letter from Mr Lithur, dated December 5, 2023, demanding a retraction and apology on behalf of Mrs Mahama.

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The scurrilous statements were made by Kofi Tonto during a political discussion on TV3’s “New Day” programme on December 4, 2023, where he alleged that Mrs. Mahama, had taken US$500,000.00 to the USA.

Mrs. Mahama’s legal representation emphasized in their letter that the allegation was false and malicious. They pointed out that she had not taken any such amount either in her bag or elsewhere to the United States of America as Kofi Tonto said.

Kofi Tonto’s apology was in response to a letter dated December 5, 2023, addressed to him and the Chief Executive Officer of Media General Limited, owners of TV3 in which Mr. Lithur had demanded for retraction and apology over the outrageous claim against Mrs. Mahama.

“We act as solicitors for Mrs. Lordina Mahama, the wife of Former President John Dramani Mahama.

“Our client’s attention has been drawn to certain defamatory statements made on TV3 on Monday, December 4, 2023, during the political discussion segment of the program dubbed “New Day”. The host was Roland Walker, who at all material times hosted the program in the ordinary course of his employment with Media General Ltd. The particular topic and discussion centred on Ghana’s rather large list of attendees at the Climate Conference in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Mrs. Samira Bawumia, wife of the Vice President and flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party, was among the list of attendees.

In trying to justify her attendance at the conference, Mr Kofi Tonto made the following defamatory statements: “If you want to go there, we will go there. Because you remember President Mahama’s wife? She took US$500,000.00 in her bag to the USA. What was she doing there with the money…………….. It was here in Ghana……….We are not talking about somebody who takes US$500,000.00 outside the country………………”

“Mr Tonto repeated the allegation over and over again, despite being challenged that it was untrue.

“Our client has instructed us to say that she did not at any time take cash amount of US$500,000.00 either in her bag or elsewhere to the United States of America. The allegation is simply false and malicious,

“Our client was not a subject of discussion on the television program. She has never met or spoken to Mr. Tonto. Prior to the incident she complained of, she did not even know of him. It therefore beats her mind where he obtained the information from and the reason he may have had for dragging her name into the panel discussion. Clearly, his intent and purpose were malicious: to equalise, to our client’s detriment and for the benefit of Mrs. Samira Bawumia, and thereby gain some obscure political advantage by casting a slur on her character and disparage her in order to score political points. In the process, he greatly embarrassed our client, injured her reputation and has brought her name into public ridicule, scandal, odium, contempt and hatred.

“Unfortunately, TV3 (Media General Ltd.) gave Mr. Tonto the audio-visual and electronic platforms to defame our client. His defamatory words have been transmitted and published and continue to be circulated on social media including, but not limited to, “WhatsApp”. At all relevant times, the internet has millions of users all of whom have free access to the defamatory words our client complains of. The broadcast is still accessible on “YouTube” and on TV3’s website. It can therefore be inferred that a large number of unquantifiable users listened to the broadcast and continue to access its contents.

“Further, or in the alternative, to the knowledge of TV3, once the publication was made on the internet, it could be accessed, stored and republished by a substantial and unquantifiable number of persons worldwide, particularly the millions of Ghanaians living in Ghana and abroad. At all material times, TV3 knew and intended that its broadcast would be so stored, circulated and published.

“By this letter, we have our client’s firm instructions to demand from you (Mr. Kofi Tonto and Media General Ltd.) forthwith, anyhow not later than seven (7) days from the date of this letter, a written retraction and apology for your defamatory words. We do not intend to notify you before taking any further action on behalf of our client.

The lawyers accused Kofi Tonto of having malicious intent, attempting to equalize to Mrs Mahama’s detriment and benefit Mrs. Samira Bawumia, wife of the Vice President and flagbearer of the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP).

The legal representatives further noted the severe damage caused by Mr. Tonto’s statements, including embarrassment, injury to reputation, and public ridicule of Mrs. Mahama. The letter demanded a written retraction and apology within seven days from both Kofi Tonto and Media General Ltd., the owners of TV3, failing which further legal action would be pursued.

In response to the allegations, the management of TV3, through the host of the “New Day” program, Roland Walker, publicly distanced the network from Kofi Tonto’s statements.

Mr Walker stated, “TV3 and Media General, we disassociate ourselves from the statement made by Kofi Tonto, a member of the government’s communication team, a spokesperson of the government, on that allegation he made. We, in no way, condone that without any proof at all. TV3 and Media General, we disassociate ourselves from those allegations.”

“So TV3 and Media General, two weeks ago, we had a discussion right here, Kofi Tonto, when we were discussing Ghana’s list of 618 of cost not made up of only state officials but other officials of parastatals, civil society, the private sector etc, to COP 28 raised an issue; an allegation to the effect that the Former First Lady Lordina Mahama, had in her bag $500,000 cash.

We asked him incessantly to prove it or withdraw. He refused subsequently, but we want to categorically state that TV3 and Media General, we disassociate ourselves from the statement made by Kofi Tonto, a member of government’s communication team, a spokesperson of government on that allegation he made, and we in no way, condone that without any proof at all and again we have to state categorically, TV3 and Media General, we disassociate ourselves from those allegations that Kofi Tonto, a member of government communication team made against the former First Lady, Lordina Mahama that sometime, specific time, he didn’t mention, that period, she had US$500,000, in cash in a bag, he did say and was sharing wherever, we don’t know. Again that disassociation and disclaimer has been issued right here”, said Mr. Walker.

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