Suit against ‘Montie 3” presidential pardon: SC delivers judgement Nov 21

Justice Sophia Akuffo, Chief Justice

Justice Sophia Akuffo, Chief Justice

Supreme Court (SC) will on November 21, 2018, deliver judgement on the suits filed by three Ghanaian lawyers against the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice on the granting of presidential pardon by former President John Dramani Mahama to the “Montie 3”, who were convicted and jailed on July 27, 2016, for contempt of court.

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 SC 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 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”.

Mrs. Justice Sophia Adinyira, president of the panel of judges, who announced the date slated for judgement, asked counsel for the plaintiffs whether they had anything more to add to their legal opinions they had filed already.

In consolidating the three suits against the Attorney-General (Defendant), the plaintiffs now want the highest court of the land (Supreme Court) 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 independent 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.

The judges were sitting on a suit filed by Mr. Abu Ramadan against the Electoral Commission, 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.

In the course of their discussion on Montie 100.1 FM, on June 29, 2016, the three persons uttered certain words which amounted to scandalising the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court and bringing the authority of the court into disrepute, thus giving rise to their conviction on July 18, 2016, and sentence on July 27, 2016.

The contemnors were jailed four months in prison and fined GH₵ 10,000.00 each.

Subsequent to their conviction, Salifu, Alistair and Ako Gunn wrote a petition to President Mahama on August 1, 2016, to exercise the Prerogative of Mercy under Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution in their (contemnors) favour.

The document was later given to the Council of State for advice and on August 19, 2016, and the council advised that the President could exercise the Prerogative of Mercy.

And fortunately for them, President Mahama on August 22, 2016, acting upon the advice, exercised his constitutional powers under Article 72 (1) (d) to remit the remaining sentence of the contemnors effective August 26, 2016.

By Castro Zangina-Tong                       

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