A Ghanaian newspaper, The New Statesman has retracted and apologized for a defamatory and libelous story it published on September 25, 2015, against Springfield Energy and its CEO, Mr. Kevin Okyere, where it sensationally tried to link the duo to corruption in the Nigerian petroleum sector.
The New Statesman, which gave wings to the defamatory report in Ghana and Nigeria, in a retraction published on the cover page of the October 16 edition and subsequently on page 2, regretted that the previous report it ran was inaccurate saying, “Apart from the fact that Springfield did business with the NNPC in Nigeria, the News Statesman has no evidence that Springfield’s dealings with NNPC were not legitimately secured…”
Springfield Energy is an oil and gas company with operations in Ghana and Nigeria. Mr. Okyere and his company had sued the newspaper and its publisher, GAB Productions Limited, for GH¢30 million ($7.5m) for libel, at an Accra High Court on September 30.
The duo also threatened to sue other newspapers for publishing unsubstantiated reports linking them to corruption in Nigeria. It is however unclear whether the plaintiffs would discontinue the suit.
The full text of The New Statesman’s retraction reads: “RETRACTION: REPORT ON KEVIN OKYERE, SPRINGFIELD The new statesman wishes to retract in full its report of Friday, September 25, 2015.
“THE HANDSOME GHANAIAN MILLIONAIRE AND NIGERIA’S BEAUTIFUL $20BN EX-PETROLEUM MINISTER”. The new statesman, as its readers are fully aware, has been consistent in highlighting for its mainly Ghanaian readers efforts by the new Buhari government to tackle corruption in Nigeria.
Much of such publications have focused on the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation and its former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke. In the course of our investigations, much of which was based on reports already circulating in the Nigerian media on her controversial handling of the ministry, names were mentioned of people with alleged influence around Mrs.
Diezani Alison-Madueke and in just two of the many numerous reports (specifically The Premium Times and little known the capital) the name Kevin Okyere, a Ghanaian businessman, came up.
Our checks further revealed that Kevin’s company, Springfield, which is a player in the petroleum business here in Ghana, managed to secure oil- lifting deals in Nigeria under the Jonathan government.
We must however, stress that none of the publications about Kevin Okyere or his company, Springfield, made any categorical allegation linking him to any corrupt dealings, either in Nigeria or Ghana. And our own publication did not say that Kevin Okyere or Springfield took part in any corrupt transaction in any of the two countries they are known to operate in Ghana and Nigeria.
Indeed our report on Kevin Okyere and Springfield went on to say that the successful young Ghanaian businessman became “an object of envy within oil circles in Nigeria”, and added, “many others reduce the targeting of the successful Ghanaian deal-maker as one of pure envy.”
Apart from the fact that Springfield did business with the NNPC in Nigeria, the News Statesman has no evidence that Springfield’s dealings with NNPC were not legitimately secured and made no such categorical claim in our publication.
We have since published a rejoinder from Springfield in which they completely denied doing anything illegitimate in either Nigeria or Ghana. We are hereby rendering a full retraction and unreservedly regret any inconvenience which our said publication might have caused Springfield and its CEO, Kevin Okyere.”