Mahama Canít Pardon Montie Trio Ė Lawyer

Following the opening of a petition book to persuade President John Dramani Mahama to pardon the 3 imprisoned Montie FM panelists, a private legal petitioner, Denis Adjei Dwomoh, has suggested that the president might not have the power to free the convicts in this instance.

Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, were sentenced to serve four months in jail on Wednesday, after they were found guilty of contempt charges.

Several persons, including the Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh as well as her party the National Democratic Congress (NDC) have stated that the sentence handed to the three is harsh.

The lawyers for the Montie FM panelists say they intend to petition President Mahama to pardon their clients prompting the opening of the petition book today [Thursday].

The book, opened by a group calling itself the Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP), has garnered several signatures including those of high-profile government officials including the Minister of Education in charge of Tertiary, Sam Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare and the Head of the Presidential Delivery Unit, Valerie Sawyerr.

However, according to Denis Adjei Dwomoh, their efforts may be in vain as the president might not have the constitutional mandate to grant the three men their freedom.

He explained on Eyewitness News that the section of the constitution that gave the president the power to release incarcerated persons applies to only criminal cases and not the case of the Montie FM trio.

“The power that you are seeking for the president to exercise is under Article 72 of the 1992 constitution. It talks about the President acting in consultation with the Council of State, to grant to a person convicted of an offence a pardon.”

“When the constitution in Article 72 talks about an offence, it relates to a criminal offence and when you go to section 17 of the transitional provisions of the constitution, it quite clearly throws light on the fact that when the constitution contemplates offences under Article 72, it’s about criminal offence. When it comes to the curtailment of the liberty of the individual, so long as it did not relate to they being convicted for a criminal offence under the law of Ghana, but in terms of a court exercising its powers and jurisdiction, the president cannot exercise that power because the qualification must relate to an offence as defined in the criminal code or any other statute that has been so defined.”

One of the lawyers for the trio, George Loh, has dismissed these suggestions, stating that it was well within the rights of his clients to seek the president’s intervention on their situation.

“It is not illegal or unconstitutional for citizens of this country to make an appeal to the president to show mercy, powers that he has under the constitution.He has done it several time for people on health grounds, during popular anniversaries, national holidays so what will be so different if an appeal is made to the president and by his assessment and in consultation with the Council of State, he thinks that something must be done and therefore as father of the nation he shows compassion on his children” he said on Eyewitness News.

Some members of the NDC, who many believe the station sympathizes with, on Thursday protested at the party’s headquarters requesting a Presidential pardon for the the three or risk losing their votes in the December polls.

‘Montie boys’ jailed and fined

The Montie FM trio, were also ordered to pay an amount of 10, 000 cedis each or risk serving an extra month in jail.

The directors of the station, were also fined by the court for failing to prevent the incident on their platform.

Network Broadcasting Limited, and Zeze Media, which owns the frequency on which Montie FM is broadcast, were ordered to pay Ghc30,000 each.

In presenting the sentences, the Presiding judge, Sophia Akuffo, stated that the two panelists had willfully attacked the Chief Justice and lowered the authority of the court by insisting that they will not accept its judgment on a controversial matter of the voter’s register.