‘Montie 3’ presidential pardon … Former Pres Mahama did no wrong

Justice Sophia Akuffo, Chief Justice

Justice Sophia Akuffo, Chief Justice

Former President John Dramani Mahama was yesterday absolved of any wrongdoing by the Supreme Court (SC) for granting presidential pardon to the “Montie 3”, who were jailed four months and fined GH¢10,000 each in July 27, 2016, for contempt of court.

 

By a majority decision of 5-2, the Chief Justice, Mrs. Justice Sophia Adinyira, president of the seven-member panel of judges delivering the judgement, said that the former president acted in accordance with the dictates of the 1992 Constitution.

 

“The President’s powers in the grant of pardon cannot be questioned by the court since his power of granting pardon covers that of criminal contempt,” she said.

 

Consequently, the court dismissed the three writs filed by three legal practitioners asking the Apex Court, which incidentally jailed the three contemnors, to declare former President Mahama’s presidential pardon as null, void and of no effect.

 

This meant that if the court had granted their request, then Messrs Salifu Maase also known as Mugabe, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn would have been taken back to prison to serve the rest of their sentence.

 

The majority side which dismissed the consolidated suit comprised Mrs. Justice Adinyira (President), Mr. Justice Paul Baffoe Bonnie, Mr. Justice Anthony A. Benin who dismissed all the three suits entirely, Mr. Justice Yaw Appau and Mr. Justice Gabriel Pwamang.

 

Mr. Justice Jones Dotse and Mr. Justice Anin Yeboah, however, dissented, but the reason for their difference in opinion (dissension) was not disclosed.

 

Mrs. Justice Adinyira said the reason for their dissension had been captured in the judgement, which would be made available later.

 

According to the plaintiffs, Messrs Elikplim Agbemava, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah and Nana Asante Bediatuo, the former president’s action was unconstitutional and that “the president cannot arrogate unto himself powers exclusively within the bosom of the judiciary by the constitution of Ghana”.

 

They, therefore, want the apex court to “strike down purported grant by the President of Ghana of a remission of the punishment of four  months imposed on Salifu Maase also known as Mugabe, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn having acted in contempt of the SC, 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 as unjustified interference with the independence of the judiciary and, affront to the constitution of Ghana.”

 

In consolidating the three suits against the Attorney-General (defendant), the plaintiffs wanted the SC to determine whether or not the words “convicted of an offence” in Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution, include committal and conviction for the offence of contempt of court by the superior courts under Article 126(2) of the constitution among others.

 

Salifu Maase, host of a morning political talk-show on Montie FM, an Accra-based radio, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, all panelists, made disparaging remarks on the programme against the former Chief Justice, Mrs. Justice Georgina Theodora Wood and other justices of the SC, who were sitting on a suit filed by Mr. Abu Ramadan.

 

The suit was against the Electoral Commission (EC), which the plaintiff (Abu Ramadan) was asking the court to order the EC to clean the 2012 voters’ register of ghost names as well as those who used the national health insurance cards to register.

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