President John Mahama yesterday granted remission of pardon to the ‘Montie trio’ who were fined and sentenced to four months imprisonment each by the Supreme Court last month for scandalising the court.
Salifu Maase (alias Mugabe), Alistair Nelson and Ako Gunn, were sentenced to four months imprisonment and a fine of GHc10,000.00 each for contempt of court.
The President’s decision to remit their sentences on compassionate grounds followed by a petition submitted to him by the contemnors appealing to him to exercise his prerogative of mercy, even as they continue to express deep remorse and regret for the unacceptable statements they made against the Judiciary
He took the decision in consultation with the Council of State and in exercise of his constitutional powers under Article 72 of the constitution.
A statement signed by the Minister of Communications, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah and copied to the Ghanaian Times, said the remission would take effect from next Saturday, August 26.
The three were sentenced on July 27, and have served one month of the prison sentence imposed on them.
“President Mahama takes this opportunity to remind all Ghanaians of the need to respect the institutions of the state and exercise freedom of speech responsibly mindful of the need to preserve peace and national unity.”
“The President reminds all concerned especially persons working in the media or appearing on its platforms to be circumspect and guard against the use of intemperate language which has the potential of causing unnecessary tension especially in this election year.”
The statement said the President was hopeful Ghanaians would take a cue from the events leading to the conviction of the trio and avoid utterances that could destabiliase the peace the country was currently enjoying.
Meanwhile, a private legal practitioner, Mr. Waheed Iddrisu, has hailed the decision taken by the President, saying that it would deepen the country’s democratic process.
He said the President did not make any error in law, the fact that due process was followed.
Mr. Iddrisu said the prerogative of mercy granted the President in Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution does not make the President a judge but gave him the power to pardon any convict after the court has given its verdict.
Asked whether the decision would not ruffle the feathers of other communicators and radio show hosts to scandalise the courts, he said the drama that surrounded the conviction and subsequent sentence of the three should serve as good lessons to Ghanaians.
On the contrary, the drama around the trio has heightened the responsibility for Ghanaians to refrain from making unguarded statements, particularly one that sought to scandalise the court and bring the administration of justice into public ridicule and disrepute.
By Malik Sullemana