Montie 3 petition: Mahama must weigh options carefully – Kwesi Prat
“Whichever way the President acts, there is a price to pay. In this particular case, whichever way this president acts, there is a price to pay. Every option will come with a price so he has to weigh his options very carefully. People are deliberately setting traps for the president!” says Managing Editor of the Insight newspaper, Kwesi Pratt Jnr.
While the senior editor believes President John Dramani Mahama has every power within his jurisdiction to free the Montie 3 – it must not be done “capriciously”.
He explained that it is “not a violation” of the constitution for the president to invoke article 72 to free the Montie three convicts.
According to him, arguments that the president would be violating the law if he frees the ‘Montie squad’ are “unfortunate”.
“How would that be a violation of the very same constitution that confers those powers on him?… I don’t see that,” he said.
The seasoned journalist made this assertion during a panel discussion on Radio Gold’s political program, Alhaji & Alhaji’ Saturday.
Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn, and Salifu Maase, aka Mugabe, were jailed by the Supreme Court for threatening to kill judges as well as scandalising and bringing the name of the bench into disrepute.
Following their sentence, supporters of the governing National Democratic Congress, groups, friends, and family have mounted pressure on Mr. Mahama to grant them pardon by invoking his prerogative of mercy powers under Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution.
A petition book was opened by the Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP) to gather one million signatures to that end. The petition was presented to the president via Chief of Staff Julius Debrah on Thursday.
It attracted over 180,000 signatures, including those of some lawyers such as the Minister of Gender, Children, and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur.
But Mr Pratt points out that – the article 72 “is not just by granting total pardon to the convicts”
“Article 72 has four  different categories of measure open to the president. The president can forgive them for whatever crimes they have committed and they walk home free with a clean sheet, no conviction records. That is the first one.’
“The president can also reduce the sentences, so that instead of four months, they may serve one week or three months but their conviction will stand. The president has the power to do that. The president can also give them some pardon which enables them to come home under a bond so that when they commit that crime again, they will go back to prison. So there are several options open to the president” he noted.
Mr Pratt was however emphatic that – “Under all the articles that confer powers on the president, no president must exercise his powers capriciously. But if the president wants to do that, then he must consult the council of state.”
According to him, President Mahama must have some consultation before taking any decision on the Montie 3 convicts – “If he does that, the outcome can never be capricious. Nobody can then accuse the president from doing that because the constitution allows him to consult before taking a decision”.
But he advised that – ‘Whichever way the President acts, there is a price to pay. In this particular case, whichever way this president acts, there is a price to pay. Every option will come with a price so he has to weigh his options very carefully. People are deliberately setting traps for the president!”