Today, Friday, Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and Salifu Masee, infamously referred to as the Montie Three will be released from prison after President John Mahama remitted their four-month prison sentence.
The Montie three were imprisoned in July for criminal contempt of court after they threatened the lives of Supreme Court Justices on a live Montie FM radio programme.
After their incarceration, two petitions were started and signed by top government officials and thousands of sympathisers in an attempt to compel President Mahama to exercise his prerogative of mercy powers per Article 72 of the constitution.
President Mahama eventually exercised this power on Monday, August 22 following consultations with the Council of State.
A statement signed by the Minister of Communications on Monday, Dr. Edward Omane Boamah, said that the President had taken the decision to pardon the three on ‘compassionate grounds’ given the remorse they had demonstrated.
Montie 3 counsel grateful to Mahama
One of the lawyers for the three, Eduji Tamakloe said of their impending release to Citi News, “We are excited at the prospect of their coming. The expectations are very high… we are so thankful to the President and the good people of Ghana for the remission of their wrongs.”
“It is a feeling of excitement and also sober reflection. Right from the time GBA issued their statement to the time we went to the courts, they have always demonstrated that apology and remorse and have taken steps to retract and apologise to the entire Judiciary,” Lawyer Tamakloe added.
Pardon rendered Judiciary ‘toothless’
The President’s decision to pardon the three has however been met with scathing criticism with the general sentiment being President Mahama has endorsed the conduct of the three and undermined the Judiciary.
The Progressive People’s Party, which started a counter petition to keep the trio in Jail, described the President as weak for bowing to the pressure to pardon the three and said this decision was “in bad faith and will remain a scar on our democratic credentials.”
The PPP also held that, “By exercising his powers per article 72 to pardon the three contemnors, the President has rendered the judicial services toothless and ineffective.”
Mahama didn’t act in the interest of the State
Minority Spokesperson on Constitutional, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Joe Osei-Owusu, also said the pardon smacked of partisan activism.
“Rather than being a statesman, he has behaved like a party activist,” Mr. Osei-Owusu has stated while also describing the whole process leading up to the pardon as a “ruse”.
Mr. Osei-Owusu, also a lawyer, acknowledged President Mahama had every right to exercise his prerogative of mercy per the constitution, but in this particular instance, he insisted that the President had not acted in the interest of the state.
Arguments in favor of pardon
The Montie three’s pardon came one of Ghana’s most respected lawyers and a former Attorney General, Martin Amidu, asserted that the procedure used in jailing the three was unconstitutional.
The former AG also argued that, there was nothing wrong with calls for the President to exercise his prerogative power of mercy, in the case of the jailed Montie FM trio.
Debate over pardon needless – NDC
The General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Johnson Asiedu Nketia has however said any debate over the pardoning of the Montie 3 was needless and misplaced as the President had acted within the remit of his powers.
Mr. Asiedu Nketia also held that, the President needn’t provide justification of his decision to pardon the Montie 3, despite the criticisms coming from political parties and the general public.
Montie 3 pardoned to attack NPP
The spokesperson for Nana Akufo-Addo, the flagbearer of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mustapha Hamid, suggested that President Mahama might have pardoned the Montie FM contemnors to “resume their insult attacks” on the opposition candidate.
“Once they [Montie trio] are incarcerated, he [Mahama] is the one now leading the insult attack. He wants them out so they can come and take over from him so he can rest. They have said they were working on his behalf so now that they are not there, he’s had to take up the insults himself. That’s the reason he’s [pardoned them],” Mustapha Hamid said.