But NDC Commentator Refutes GBA Claims
Alistair Tairo Nelson of Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom’s Progressive People’s Party (PPP), has hurriedly apologized to judges of the Supreme Court for comments he made last Wednesday, June 29, 2016, which have been described as distasteful.
The under fire social commentator, who insists his submission on the judge’s were “regrettable” is,however, being forced into the colours of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC),especially on social media by those who want to equalize Assin Central Member of Parliament (MP) Ken Agyapong’s attack on the Electoral Commission (EC) chair, Mrs. Charlotte Osei.
But a member of the Communication Team of the governing NDC, Godwin Ako Gunn, has dismissed claim by the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) that he also made threatening comments against the judges on the same day Mr. Nelson, is accused of issuing death threats. He (Mr. Gunn) insists he was not on the show that day.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I wish to place it on record that I did not participate in any political discussion programme on Muntie FM, on the said date. Neither have I ever made comments threatening judges with death or any harm of any sort. The claim by the GBA is therefore false and the call for my arrest completely untenable”, Mr. Gunn said.
Alistair in his statement issued last Saturday, following various condemnation by civil society groups and private individuals many on social media, Mr. Nelson, who is said to have made the comments on the Accra-based Montie FM, apologized for not being measured in his utterances that fateful day.
He noted, however, that his comment has been distorted.
Alistair, described by some as hot-headed young politician, was reported to be making a submission on the on-going case brought against the EC by People’s National Convention (PNC) former Youth Organiser, Abu Ramadan, and one other person.
In a very heated composure Alistair who is referred to as “Deputy Commander of the Airwaves” said “I know where the judges live in Accra, I can show you. I know their quarters, the Supreme Court judges. I also know the High Court judges.
Yes, I’m telling you, God has a way to show…If they like, they should bring it on. It will start in their residences, I’m telling you, in their neighborhood. When we finish them, then it will be over. Then we will come and rule our nation because they don’t wish the nation well. So they have to go.
We will see them off to return to where they came from. So that those of us who wish the nation well will take control of the nation and rule it. So they should sit there, and feel that they are Supreme Court judges so…Look, the EC is insulated, article 45.
Go and check. You cannot do what you are doing there. You Supreme Court judges sitting there, what do you do for Ghana? Look at your judges accepting bribes, goats and GH¢100 and others.
Are you not ashamed. Senior judges on the bench, by this time all of you should have resigned because of what your juniors were doing. Are you not ashamed?”
However, upon sober reflection and condemnations by many including the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) and the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) which has called for his arrest, the now calmed Alistair has in a statement apologized for his seemingly incendiary comments.
In the statement Mr. Nelson wrote; “I participated in a program on Montie FM. During my contribution, I made statements that in context, content (though conditional) and timing, are regrettable.
Notwithstanding the many distortion that have accompanied the numerous public comments, I wish to apologize unreservedly to the listening public, including those who have called to caution and advise, and all members of the bench who have been offended by my contribution on the programme.”
Remorsed Alistair who was hosted by Mugabe Mase continued “I also wish to apologise to the management of Montie FM for the unfortunate development. Thank you,” he added in the statement.
Godwin Ako Gunn, a member of the Communication Team of the governing NDC, in a strongly worded statement rubbishing the accusation last Saturday, he said, “My attention has been drawn to a widely circulated statement issued by the Ghana Bar Association in which a call has been made for my arrest and prosecution.
The basis for the call is that I made comments threatening to kill Supreme court judges on a political discussion programme on Montie FM on Wednesday, 29th June,2016”.
According to Ako Gunn, on the said day he was being accused by the GBA, he did not participate in the hot afternoon political show, Pampaso, let alone make any submission.
“For the avoidance of doubt,I wish to place it on record that I did not participate in any political discussion programme on Muntie FM,on the said date.
Neither have I ever made comments threatening judges with death or any harm of any sort. The claim by the GBA is therefore false and the call for my arrest completely untenable.
He demanded that association which asked for the arrest of the two and onward prosecution did the honourable thing by retracting the statement and apologize to repair the damage caused his person.
“I therefore demand a retraction of the GBA statement and an apology for the harm done to my reputation”, he concluded.
Below is the full statement by the GBA. It signed by its President Benson Nutsukpui;
GHANA BAR ASSOCIATION’S STATEMENT ON THREATS TO JUDGES MADE ON MUNTIE 100.1 FM ON 29TH JUNE 2016
The Ghana Bar Association has listened with shock and horror, sound recordings from a talk show programme ostensibly held on Accra-based Muntie 100.1 FM radio, during which some panelists, Alistair Nelson, and Godwin Ako Gunn made threats of harm or of death to Supreme Court and High Court judges.
The language used by the said panelists was particularly clear and graphic and showed a clear intent to put the fear of harm or death in our judges. Those words were also meant to incite hatred among the public against the judges.
Further, the words used were in blatant contempt of the Supreme Court as they sought to scandalise the Court or otherwise lower its authority. The GBA is shocked that the owners and proprietors of the said radio station do not appear to have taken any steps to sanction the panelists in the face of such unacceptable conduct and language.
The Ghana Bar Association condemns the threats on the lives judges in no uncertain terms. These threats are even more painful to the legal profession because they were ostensibly made on 29th June 2016, the eve of Martyrs Day, a day when the profession remembers the three High Court Judges and retired military officer who were kidnapped from their homes and murdered by agents of the state.
It was therefore sickening and horrifying to hear these gentlemen referring to the murders of our Martyrs with excitement, drawing parallels to it claiming that they could also identify the homes of our judges today for the purpose of visiting them with violence, and saying things such as “when we finish them, then it will be over… they have to go. We will see them off to return to where they came from.”
Such gruesome glorification of the bloody and dastardly acts of yesteryears, and current threat to our judiciary cannot be tolerated or allowed under our present democratic dispensation. The constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media, are not absolute. Citizens are expected not to use that freedom to endanger Ghana, encourage disrespect for our nationhood, or incite hatred against members of the community.
We hereby call on the Inspector-General of Police to cause the investigation of those matters, arrest of the gentlemen, charge them with the relevant offences and put them before court. We call on the Attorney-General to ensure that these gentlemen are prosecuted with all the force that she can muster and do her utmost to secure convictions of them.
We call on the National Media Commission to investigate this matter and impose sanctions that are permitted by law on the radio station and its
owners. We also call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to condemn these gentlemen, their words and conduct, and the radio station to show that there is no room for such conduct and that Ghana will never allow those dark days to return.
The Bar wishes finally to reiterate its position as encapsulated in the National President’s speech at the 34th Remembrance service held in memory of the Martyred Judges on 30th June 2016, “… assaults to the rule of law have not and should never manifest themselves in the horrific circumstances we have just reminded ourselves of”.
DATED AT ACCRA THIS 1ST DAY OF JULY 2016
(Sgd) Benson Nutsukpui
Ghana Bar Association