The Supreme Court has handed a four-month jail term each to a radio host and his two panellists who threatened to kill judges of Ghana’s apex court.
The three, Godwin Ako Gunn and Alistair Nelson (both radio panellists), together with the host Salifu Maase, who were found guilty of contempt on July 18, are each to pay a GHC10,000 in fines in addition to the prison term. They will serve a month each should they fail to pay the additional fine.
Owners of Montie FM, the station on which the contemnors made the contemptuous statements, have also been fined GHC30,000. They have up to close of Thursday, July 28 to pay the GHC30,000 fine.
They are also to produce a document giving an undertaking that none of its media platforms will be be used to make or promote contemptuous statement or comments that has the potential to scandalise the court.
Meanwhile, the court has granted bail to the owners – Harry Zakuor, Edward Addo, Ato Ahwoi and Kwesi Kyei Atuah- until they comply with the court’s judgement, while the three persons have been whisked away to begin their jail-terms.
Alistair and Gunn speaking on an Accra-based Montie FM threatened to kill the judges of the Supreme Court over their orders to Ghana’s Electoral Commission to clean the voter’s register.
Host of the show Maase, was also said to have spurred the two on to make scandalous statements against the court; comments that have widely been condemned by many Ghanaians and institutions.
The Supreme Court in June this year ordered the Electoral Commission to submit to it names of all persons who used National Health Insurance cards as proof of identity to register to vote in the 2012 general elections. The court subsequently ordered the EC to delete the over 56,000 names submitted.
This infuriated Alistair and Godwin Ako Gunn who considered the order unfavourable to their party- the National Democratic Congress- hence made unsavoury comments against the judges which the Supreme Court viewed as contemptuous.
The court subsequently summoned them to explain why they should not be jailed. The two together with the host of the show and one of the owners of the radio station, appeared before the Supreme Court July 12 but the court could not hear them because they were short served with the court processes.
The case was thus adjourned to July 18 for them to appear again. The rest of the owners were ordered to appear in person on the said date.
Plea for mercy & conviction
On July 18, they showed up in court with their lawyers to plead for mercy after they had apologised to the court for their statements and actions. Notwithstanding, the court went ahead to convict them but deferred sentencing to July 27.
Alistair Nelson in his plea for mercy blamed his comments on a disease he called ‘kpokpogbligbli’ while Maase Salifu, popularly known as Mugabe, apologized for his comments, adding that his producer fell ill on the fateful day the incident happened hence there was no one to hold him in check.
The owners – Harry Zakour, Edward Addo, Kwasi Attuah and Kwaky Bram Larbi pleaded for mercy and said the act was regretful.
By Stephen Kwabena Effah|3news.com|Ghana