Warn Supporters Against Contempt Lecturer Tells NDC

Following the incarceration by the Supreme Court of three affiliates of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) for contempt and the subsequent clamour by the party’s supporters for their release, the leadership of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) should use the opportunity to educate party members on how to be guarded in their remarks, Mohammed Abass, a political scientist, has advised.

Ghana’s highest court on Wednesday July 27, 2016 handed a four-month jail term each to three Montie FM contemnors – Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn, and Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe – for scandalising it and also bringing it's name into disrepute.

Apart from the jail sentence, each of the three contemnors has been fined a sum of GHS10,000. The owners of the station including Mr Harry Zakkour, who is also the second vice- chairman of the governing NDC, as well as Mr Edward Addo, Ato Ahwoi, and Kwesi Kyei Atuah, have been fined GHS30,000 each. They were given up to Thursday July 28 to pay 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.

some members of the NDC have mounted pressure on President John Mahama to invoke his prerogative of mercy under Article 72 of the constitution to pardon the convicts, who have become known as the Montie Three.

A book has been opened at the premises of Radio Gold to collect signatures to push for a presidential pardon for the convicts while vigils at the same venue have been held in that regard. Some supporters have also stated that the party was not worth dying for as it did not do enough to defend the convicted men.

But Mr Abass, who lectures at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), told Accra 100.5FM that such actions were an indication of the unfortunate political system in the country.

“This is a confirmation of the politics we practise here that does us no good and which needs to be reformed. It is true they are practising politics, that they support and work for their party. But there are legitimate ways of going about that and the way they are going about it won’t be helpful to us, won’t help our democracy, won’t help the parties themselves in terms of their development, and it won’t help our political development as well as our national development,” he said.

According to him, the state had vested powers in its courts and justices to punish culprits based on whatever offences they commit, which happened in the current instance.

“So, the path they (NDC supporters) have taken won’t help and will not benefit the country,” he stressed.

He called the current situation whereby supporters were demanding the release of the jailed trio as “a challenge to the NDC leadership”, which they needed to face “very objectively” and “realistically”.

In Mr Abass’ opinion, the path taken by the NDC faithful was not in the best interest of the nation, hence the time was opportune for the leadership of the party to come out and tell its supporters that though they appreciate their hard work for the NDC, they needed to accept what had happened and guard against comments that would jeopardise their freedom in future. He said the NDC needed to specifically embark on a campaign to sensitise its supporters.

“So, I am sure if they come out clearly to give them this education, they are rational beings, they will understand it, they will see this as an unfortunate setback which they have to learn from…” Mr Abass explained.