Declare ‘Montie 3’ pardon null, void …Supreme Court hears case today

montie 3The Supreme Court will this morning, hear the writs filed by three Ghanaian legal practitioners against the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice challenging the constitutionality of former President John Dramani Mahama, for granting presidential pardon to the “Montie 3,” who were jailed for contempt of court on July 27, 2016.

The plaintiffs, Nana Asante Bediatuo, Messrs, Elikplim L. Agbemava and Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, contend that “The president cannot arrogate unto himself powers exclusively within the bosom of the Judiciary by the Constitution of Ghana.”

 

They are further seeking the Apex Court to “strike down as null, void and of no effect the purported grant by the President of Ghana, of a remission of the punishment of four (4) months imposed on Salifu Maase, also known as Mugabe, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, for having acted in contempt of the Supreme Court of Ghana, to the extent that same is in excess of the powers conferred on the President of Ghana, by Article 72 (1) of the 1992 Constitution Constitutes an unjustified interference with the independence of the Judiciary and, therefore, affront to the Constitution of Ghana.”

 

On the part of Nana Bediatuo, a Constitutional Lawyer, the former president’s “purported and unwarranted exercise of the prerogative of mercy in the specific case in issue, is tantamount to an exercise of judicial functions in a matter not within the scope of Article 72 (1), undermines the principles of separation of powers, and the independence of the Judiciary.

 

He is therefore, seeking “a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 14 (1) (a), (b), 19 (11), (12), (21), and 126 2) of the Constitution, 1992, the power in the Superior Courts to commit and/or punish for contempt of court when exercised, is not the same as a prosecution/trial for a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana;

 

The plaintiffs are also seeking “a declaration that by the combined effect of Articles 14 (1) (a), (b), 19 (11), (12), 21), and 126 (2) of the Constitution 1992, contempt of court is not a criminal offence as constituted and known to the laws of Ghana.

 

He is  also asking for “ declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Article 14 (1\0 (b\0, 19 (12), 125 (1), (3), 126 (2) and 127 (1) of the Constitution 1992, the power to commit and/or punish for contempt of court has been vested in the Superior Courts to ensure the independence of the Judiciary in its judicial function and therefore seeking  “a declaration that accordingly, upon a true and contempt of court:

 

The plaintiffs are also seeing “a declaration that upon a true and proper construction of Articles 14 (1) (b), 19 (12), 72 (1), (3), 125 (1), (3), 126 (2) and 127 (1) of the Constitution, 1992, the purported grant of a remission of the punishment of four (4) months imposed on Salifu Maase also known as Mugabe, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, citizens of Ghana, held by the Supreme Court of Ghana on July 27, 2016, for having acted in contempt of the Supreme Court of Ghana, is excess of the powers of conferred on the President of Ghana by Article 72 (1) of the constitution and unjustified interference with the independence of the Judiciary and thus, an affront to the Constitution of Ghana:

 

 

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He is demanding “an order declaring as null, void and of no effect the purported grant of a remission by the President of the punishment of four (4) months imposed of Salifu Maase, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, citizens of Ghana, duly held by the Supreme Court of Ghana for having acted in contempt of the Supreme Court of Ghana; and “any further order (s) as this Honourable court may seem meet.”

According to Nana Bediatuo, if the three people otherwise referred to as “Contemnors” believed that their punishment or sentences were harsh and excessive, they should have resorted to the Supreme Court’s inherent jurisdiction not to the “unconstitutional exercise of prerogative of mercy by the Executive.”

 

The three men in July made some pronouncements on an Accra-based radio station, Montie FM, against the Apex Court, which was sitting on a civil suit filed by Mr Abu Ramadan against the Electoral Commission (EC) seeking the clarification of the Judgement of May 5, 2016, referred to as “the Clarification Application.”

 

Whilst the case was pending, Salifu Maase, host of a morning political talk show of Montie FM, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, all panellists, made some remarks which sought to scandalise the judiciary, interfere with and obstruct the free and efficient dispensation of justice in Abu Ramadan’s case and on July 27, 2016, they were sentenced to four months imprisonment.

 

They were additionally, fined GH¢10,000.00 each or in default serve another one month imprisonment.

 

And on Monday, August 22, 2016, a statement signed by the then Minister of Communications in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Administration, Dr Omane Boamah said, that President John Dramani Mahama in consultation  with the Council of State had decided to remit the sentence imposed on the contemnors on “Compassionate grounds.”

The three persons were released from prison on Friday, August 26, 2016.

By Castro Zangina-Tong 

 

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