No serious president in a democratic dispensation will heed calls from members of his party to grant presidential pardon to contemnors who have been jailed for scandalising and bringing the highest court of the land into disrepute, Professor Kwame Karikari, founder of the Media Foundation for West Africa, has said.
Pressure is being mounted on President John Dramani Mahama from members of his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to invoke Article 72 of the constitution to pardon Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn, and Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, who have been sentenced to a four-month jail term by the Supreme Court for contempt.
Apart from the jail sentence, each of the three contemnors has been fined a sum of GHS10000. The owners of the station including Mr Harry Zakkour, who is also the second vice-chairman of the governing National Democratic Congress, as well as Mr Edward Addo, Ato Ahwoi, and Kwesi Kyei Atuah, have been fined GHS30000 each. They were given up to the end of Thursday July 28 to pay the fine or risk a month’s jail term. The owners have also been asked by the Supreme Court to submit policy documents spelling out how to forestall similar happenings in the future. They have also been asked to ensure that none of their media outlets will be used to scandalise the court or bring it into disrepute.
In order to pile pressure on Mr Mahama to grant the three convicts pardon, the Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP), a think tank, is pooling signatures to support a petition to that end.
Lawyers for the contemnors have also petitioned the president to invoke Article 72 of the constitution to grant their clients pardon.
But Prof Karikari, speaking to Accra-based Citi FM on Friday July 29, said: “...What the president will be saying [if he heeds the call to pardon them] is that: ‘Radio stations, do as you please, court or no court, do as you please, you can basterdise the court, you can incite violence, you can threaten people’s lives and even go ahead to get people to do what we want the threats to do.’ So, no serious president in a democracy will heed a call like that under our circumstance. In fact, it will be politically suicidal for the president to accede to the call; that is why I am saying I hope the NDC is not serious with the call.”
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