According to President Mahama he took the decision based on the overriding consideration of constitutional provisions, remorse shown by the convicts and their retraction of the offending comments that landed them in jail.
The trio Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, a radio show host; Godwin Ako Gunn and Alistair Tairo Nelson, two political commentators, were sentenced to four months’ imprisonment each by the Supreme Court on July 27, 2016 for scandalising the court. They were also fined GH¢10,000 each.
Commenting on the issue for the first time since granting remission to the Montie 3, President Mahama said he vigorously abided by article 72 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana, explaining that he disagreed with all who believed the trio should have been in jail, adding that “I don’t know what benefit it would have been to anybody the three extra months they would have served in prison, I don’t know.”
President Mahama who was speaking to Paul Adom Otchere, Host of Metro TV’s Good Evening Ghana on Tuesday evening said he received the petition of the three from their lawyers and they stated all the grounds for which they thought that I should invoke my powers under article 72, narrating every step of the way; the regret they had shown and appealing for mercy; “and so I did exactly what the Constitution said I should do.”
According to the President, he sees no reason why the Montie trio should remain in jail because, “They remain convicted and that’s what a lot of people do not realize. They remain convicted, they paid Gh¢30,000 in fines and that money is in the state coffers. But what I did was that, instead of letting them spend four months in prison, they spent one month in prison. Indeed if you look at the conviction and the sentencing, the general consensus was that, four months was quite a harsh punishment to have been imposed for that kind of crime. And so I believe that I acted constitutionally and it was in the interest of Ghana.”
“It must not be arbitrary; and that’s why there again; they say it must be in consultation with the Council of State. The Council of State is an elderly body; it’s a body above the President; some of the members are elected; others have served in very important positions in their lives and so it says the President must consult the council. And so even though they give the President that power, again they put a check on it so that it’s not done with arbitrary discretion” Mr. Mahama explained.