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Times Are Hard! - NDC Admits   
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National Chairman of the National Democratic Congress, Kofi Portuphy, yesterday admitted that times were really hard in the country, to the extent that the governing party was even finding it difficult to raise the GHc30, 000 fine placed on three of its sympathizers, who were Wednesday jailed by the Supreme Court for contempt.

The Supreme Court, presided over by Justice Sophia Akuffo, found Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, host of Montie FM’s “Pampaso” political show, and two others, Alistair Nelson and Ako Gunn, guilty of contempt for scandalizing the court, defying and lowering the authority of the Supreme Court and bringing it into disrepute. The three were handed four months jail term, and subsequently fined GHC10, 000 each.

The NDC Chairman told Accra-based Kasapa FM that raising money to pay the fine had not been easy for the governing party. “In this hard time that people go through in looking for money, in such a time we have been told to pay this fine within 24 hours. I mean where have we found it like that in this country? The punishment is too harsh,” Mr Portuphy lamented.

The NDC Chairman, however, expressed the optimism that President John Mahama would intervene in the matter using his powers under Article 72(1) to get pardon for the three.

“I will be surprised if the President does not respond,” he said, stressing, “the constitution gives him the power to pardon the convicts based on consultation with the Council of State.”

The incarceration of the three is causing implosion in the governing party, with some supporters attacking the party headquarters in Accra. Pressure is therefore being mounted on President Mahama to free the jailed convicts.

Counsels for the three jailbirds are reportedly to have petitioned the president to exercise his prerogative of mercy to set their clients free.

But two legal experts say they are strongly against suggestions by sections of the public for a presidential pardon.
Yaw Oppong and Korieh Duodu, Law lecturer at the Central University and Counsel at Bentsi-Enchill Letsa & Ankomah respectively, have unanimously indicated that an Executive intervention in the four months jail sentencing of the trio would be an attack on the independence of the Judiciary.

“It simply won’t be acceptable for the President to do that,” said Korieh Duodu on Current Affairs Programme, PM Express.
Yaw Oppong who was also on the show pointed out that the President must rise above the temptation to please NDC supporters by taking any counter action. “It won’t be legally appropriate; that doesn’t mean it will be against the law, but in the general frame of things it will never be appropriate – especially in an election year,” he said.

Lawyer Oppong added: “It may be politically disastrous. There are people who have vowed to vote this way or that way. But the few who determine who should be President of Ghana, the so-called floating voters, and things like these can easily sway them. But it should not just be based on voting. It should be based on sound principles.”
Source: New Statesman

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