A former presidential hopeful and member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Arthur Kennedy says he is disturbed at the way the Supreme Court handled the infamous Montie 3 saga.
In a statement expressing his opinion on the sentence handed the trio in the matter of contempt against the court, Dr. Kennedy said, ”I am on record as against the insults, threats and violence in our politics. I have called for a cleaning of our airways. I was one of the students who protested the 1982 murders and got dismissed for that. However, I am disturbed by how this incident was handled.”
According to him, per the ruling he is “… persuaded that the Supreme Court’s handling of this case has brought it more disrepute than what was said on MUNTIE fm.”
The apex court on Wednesday July 27, 2016 sentenced presenter Salifu Maase aka Mugabe, Alister Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn to four months imprisonment.
The two political commentators had threatened the lives of judges during the hearing the Abu Ramadan and Electoral Commission saga over the voters’ register.
Presiding judge Sophia Akuffo reading the sentences said the third and fourth contemnors Alister and Ako Gunn wilfully attacked the Chief Justice and lowered the authority of the court by insisting that they will not accept its judgment on a controversial matter of the voter’s register.
She added, the convicts callously reminded the court of the gruesome murder of three High Court judges more than 30 years ago.
She pointed out that there is an element of criminality in their utterances which the Attorney-General should have noticed and acted upon.
Dr. Arthur Kennedy in his statement said, ”Justice Sophia Akufo was right that, “There is an element of criminality in their utterances which the Attorney – General should have noticed and acted upon.”
If this is the case, can the Supreme Court now assume the prosecutorial powers of the Attorney General?” He also raised concerns why the directors of the station could be held liable to what their employees or panelists say.
Below is the full statement from Dr. Kennedy
THE SUPREME COURT AND MUNTIE FM
The Supreme Court has sentenced the MUNTIE Fm panelists and their host, Mugabe to jail terms for: — Scandalizing the court — Defying and lowering the authority of the court — Bringing the court into disrepute In addition, it has convicted a Director of NBC, the owners of MUNTIE fm. Now, I am on record as against the insults, threats and violence in our politics. I have called for a cleaning of our airways.
I was one of the students who protested the 1982 murders and got dismissed for that.
However, I am disturbed by how this incident was handled. Indeed, I am persuaded that the Supreme Court’s handling of this case has brought it more disrepute than what was said on MUNTIE fm.
Impartiality is a central tenet of impartial justice. Regardless of how one feels about the MUNTIE panelists and the others, the judges of the Supreme Court were not impartial in this case. By acting as prosecutors and judges in a case involving threats to their lives, they dealt a big blow to impartial justice in our country.
Nobody would accept that a judge can sit on a case involving a threat to his wife or father. And they can sit in judgment of threats to their own lives?
Justice Sophia Akufo was right that, “There is an element of criminality in their utterances which the Attorney – General should have noticed and acted upon.” If this is the case, can the Supreme Court now assume the prosecutorial powers of the Attorney General?
The other aspect of this case that should bother all of us is the breath of its reach. Can the host of a program be held to account for the opinions of his guests? If this is indeed the case, no host of any program is safe.
Furthermore, in a nation that prides itself on the freedom of its press, can the Director of a company be held liable for what a guest or even the host says on a program on the network of his company? My next point is how graphically this brings home the inconsistency in the enforcement of our laws.
Others, who are more powerful have issued bigger threats in our politics and had no actions taken against them, including MP’s, flag-bearers and Presidents. If we wanted to set examples, why not them? Is a threat against judges any more ominous than a threat against an entire tribe or the public at large?
While on the issue of the reputation of the court, why did they not deal with those who accused them of bribery in the Election petition? Why did they not, in defense of their reputation deal with the judges who were caught taking bribes?
Next, I was disappointed by the level of advocacy provided by counel for the accused. He never raised the question of whether the threats were backed by the knowledge and resources sufficient to execute them.
He never raised the question of conflict of interest involved in judges sitting in judgment of those accused of threatening them.
The GJA response was disappointing. They should have challenged the dangerous idea inherent in the court’s decision that the host of a program and the owners of a station can be held accountable for the opinions of their guests.
That notion is inconsistent with free speech and the protections for journalists inherent in our constitution.
We must not destroy freedom of the press in pursuit of legitimate protections for our judges. Finally, the President and Parliament must sit up.
The President must be asking the A-G why nothing was done. Parliament, as part of executive oversight, must be asking the A-G why nothing was done.
That would be leadership.