Broadcast journalist jailed 14 days …for accusing Pres of influencing SC judges

A broadcast journalist of Accra-based Power FM radio station, Oheneba Boamah Bennie, has been sentenced to 14 days in prison by the Accra High Court over his claim of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo influencing the Supreme Court (SC) judges to decide any electoral petition in his favour.

The presiding judge, Justice Elfreda Dankyi, also imposed a fined of GH¢3000 on Mr Bennie, saying “I have been magnanimous.”

This was her response to Mr Bennie’s counsel, Victor Kodjogah Adawudu, who appealed with the court to be leniently with his client. Prosecution charged Mr Bennie, on December, 2020, for contempt of court.

It is the case of prosecution that, after the declaration of President Akufo-Addo as the President-elect by the Electoral Commission (EC), Mr Bennie allegedly published a video on his Facebook wall, claiming that President Akufo-Addo had met with eight justices of the SC, including the Chief Justice, and had influenced them.

The Attorney-General (A-G) claimed the President used the supposed meeting to influence the justices of the SC to rule in his favour in the event of any election petition challenging his re-election as declared by the EC.

In the said video, Mr Bennie allegedly said Ghanaians would not allow the justices of the SC to destroy the country and urged the military to stage a coup d’etat.

Prosecution made the case that through his publication, Mr Bennie wanted to tell the public that judges, including the justices of the apex court, decided cases not independently but by taking directives from the President.

Such assertion, the A-G argued, if allowed to go unpunished, would amount to gross disrespect for the judiciary, which will be violation of the 1992 Constitution.

According to the A-G, Mr Bennie knew that there was a possibility of a challenge to the presidential election at the Supreme Court and, therefore, by poisoning the minds of the public against the court, he wanted to cause disaffection for the court.

“That the respondent’s disrespect for the Judiciary and the publication of false news intended to bring the Judiciary into disrepute makes him liable to be committed to prison in order to vindicate the undoubted authority of the Judiciary enshrined in Article 125 of the 1992 Constitution,” the affidavit in support of the A-G’s case added. 


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