Will ‘Sir John’ Appear Before The Supreme Court?

SIR JOHNWill the Supreme Court continue to be on the heels of the General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, also known as ‘Sir John’ and an unnamed political commentator for making statements regarded as contemptuous of the court?

Will ‘Sir John’ appear before the court at its resumed sitting of the 2012 presidential election petition hearing today?

This followed the citing ‘Sir John’s’ statement on the front page of the The Enquirer newspaper in respect of the hearing last week.

The court also referred to another alleged contemptuous comment made by an unnamed political commentator who is purported to have said on audio that they would cut the heads of supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) if the Supreme Court declared President John Mahama the winner of the elections.

Describing the two statements attributed to the two persons as contemptuous, Justice William Atuguba, the Presiding Judge of the nine-member panel, referred to The Enquirer newspaper’s story relating to Mr. Owusu-Afriyie and noted that if action was taken and others are being provocative and action was not taken it would seem lopsided.

He indicated that it was not a pleasant thing to be summoning people but they had been left with no choice, adding that the implications of not fulfilling that duty were grave.
Subsequent to the initial sanctions taken, Justice Atuguba warned that even though there had been some moderation, there were more terrible things yet to be unraveled.

He pointed out that some of the publications were contemptuous and cited the audio and The Enquirer newspapers report and said in the course of time, the court would deal with the issue.

“There is nothing wrong to gain in championing extremist ideas of the right to free speech”, and cautioned that “the limitation was there, but the public are of the view that it must be sustained without upholding those limitations”.

The court jailed two persons and barred another from attending the hearing of the petition for contemptuous comments until its determination.

They were the editor of The Daily Searchlight newspaper, Kenneth Kuranchie, Stephen Atubiga, a member of the NDC communications team and Sammy Awuku, the Deputy Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP).

Atubiga and Kuranchie were on July 2, 2013 sentenced to a total of 13 days imprisonment for falling foul of the court’s order to the public to desist from engaging in prejudicial statements about the ongoing petition.

Atubiga was jailed for three days, while Kuranchie was sentenced to 10 days imprisonment. They have since served their sentences.

However, Mr. Awuku, who had accused the court of being selective and hypocritical for expressing its displeasure over a Daily Guide newspaper report was barred from the hearing of the petition until its determination.

They were found to be in clear contravention of the court’s order of June 24, 2013, that those who crossed the final touchline of proper coverage would be met with the appropriate response.
It directed all persons to desist from making prejudicial statements and distortion of facts of the ongoing presidential election petition.

Atubiga and Kuranchie were found guilty of criminal contempt. The court began cracking the whip after several warnings to the media, lawyers, political activists and social commentators when decorum had gone unheeded.

Another issue that reared its head during the hearing was the writing of letters to the judges hearing the petition which they declared amounted to criminal contempt and described the practice as unacceptable in law.

The bench noted that it was also contemptuous for people in society to write to them and warned that “writing to a judge on a matter pending before the court is contemptuous and must be stopped”.

Justice Atuguba declared “a layman is a layman, nonetheless the bench is serving a notice that even though many Ghanaians did not understand the intricacies of the law profession, highly placed people in society must desist from writing to judges in a matter pending before the court”.

Lead counsel for the petitioners will continue his cross-examination of the key witness of the Electoral Commission (EC), Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan, the chairman of the EC which is Day-11 of his cross-examination.

The petitioners, since their cross-examination of the witness had been confronting him with unsigned and duplicated pink sheets, duplicated voters register, polling stations with same names and codes which he conceded.

However, the witness has been explaining that with respect to some polling stations having two different pink sheets, the EC could ascertain what actually went wrong after studying the collation sheets.

The witness indicated that some of the pink sheets, which were unsigned at the polling stations, were later signed by the presiding officers at the collation centres at the instance of returning officers.
At stages of the cross-examination, Mr. Addison disagreed with the witness and wondered where the caveat was coming from.

Following the exclusion of the 1545 pink sheets from the final analysis of the KPMG report, there had been series of rumpus between the petitioners and the respondents which prompted the court to rule on the issue. - Winston Tamakloe

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