Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Saturday, July 30, 2016
Details are emerging of how the three National Democratic Congress (NDC) activists convicted for contempt by the Supreme Court now known as Montie 3 were whisked away to the Nsawam Medium Security Prison to start their respective four month sentences.
The three Salifu Maase aka Mugabe host of “Pampaso” political programme on an Accra-based Montie FM together with Godwin Ako Gunn, 39 and Alistair Tairo Nelson, 41, apart from the four month sentence were ordered to pay a whopping GH¢10,000 each as fines or in default serve an additional month in jail for scandalizing the courts.
Alistair was said to have sobbed as they were carried to Nsawam.
Immediately the five-member panel presided over by Justice Sophiah B. Akuffo handed down the sentences, Mugabe, Ako Gunn and Allistair were handcuffed and put in a police bullion van.
DAILY GUIDE learnt that the gang of three were first sent to Adentan Police Station, Accra to await the warrant to Nsawam and when the Prisons authorities confirmed the arrival of the detention warrants, they were driven straight to the prisons from Adentan.
At Nsawam they were searched thoroughly as the rules demand before being admitted.
While in the bullion van, the NDC convicts were said to have made ‘touching’ phone calls to their respective families, asking them to put their personal effects and other belongings in safekeeping.
DAILY GUIDE sources said Alistair appeared to sob while Ako-Gunn was in somber mood but Mugabe looked shell-shocked and seemed frustrated at what had befallen him after boasting that he was not afraid of prison.
The apex court had slapped Kwaku Kyei Attuah, Edward Addo, both Directors and shareholders of Network Broadcasting Limited operators of the station, lawyer Kwaku Bram-Larbi, Secretary to the board of directors and Harry Zakour, a vice Chairperson of the NDC and Zeze Media owners of the frequency with a GH¢30,000 fine or in default be individually held liable.
The Network Broadcasting Limited parent company of Montie Fm and Radio Gold was also fined GH¢30,000 bring the total amount of money to GH¢90,000.
They had since paid the GHC90,000 fine according to court sources.
Apart from scandalizing the courts, the panel of judges was not happy with the Attorney General for refusing to press criminal charges against the convicts when it was cleared that they had cross the red line with death threats and criminal attack on judges particularly Supreme Court justices.
Mugabe had told his panelists to ‘open fire’ on the Justices and they in turn did so with threats of deaths in addition to allowing a certain Nash of Mataheko to ‘marry’ Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood.
The NDC communicators had threatened to kill the Justices sitting on an election related case, thereby incurring the wrath of the Justices who cited them for criminal contempt.
Since their cionviction, the NDC has been thrown into disarray with a call by party footsoldiers and gurus for President John Mahama to veto the sentenses by activing the perogative of mercy by freeing the convicts.
The sentencing of the three have been condemned strongly by the ruling NDC who are putting pressure on President Mahama to invoke Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution to release the convicts.
Lawyers of the trio have already said they have petitioned the President to pardon the convicts while a desk has been set up by the NDC at the premises of Radio Gold which also houses Montie FM to get as many signature as possible to get the President to trigger Article 72 but other sections of the public have said it will be suicidal for President Mahama to pardon the convicts who threatened to take the lives of the Lord Justices.
The book, opened by a group calling itself the Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP) believed to have been formed by Felix Kwaky Ofosu, has received several signatures including those of high-profile government officials including a deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare and an official at the presidency, Valerie Sawyerr, who was a former deputy chief of staff.
Apart from the signatures, some angry NDC members besieged the party headquarters in Accra, Thursday to put pressure on leaders to call on President Mahama to use his powers to grant pardon to the trio.
The Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) meanwhile has asked its members to Be ‘circumspect’when commenting on national issues.
“The Supreme Court has sent a clear signal that within the freedom of expression guaranteed under our constitution, there are lines that ought not to be crossed and there is the need to make it universally unacceptable for anyone to engage in such conduct.”
“We will continue our engagements with various stakeholders such as the National Media Commission, the Judiciary, Parliament, National Communications Authority, and Ghana Journalists Association, to ensure the media remains free but the industry is well regulated,”GIBA president Akwasi Agyeman, President said in a statement.
The Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) cautioned the public not to interpret the sentencing of the trio to mean an attack on media, press freedom, and free speech.
GJA General Secretary Dave Etse Agbenu said after the sentencing that“The Supreme Court did not go after the Montie three because they did something that is lawful. The charges were read to them, they contested the charges and they were finally jailed. We must be careful not to confuse that with a media attack.”
“I am not sure the law courts were dealing with them because they are media practitioners. They were dealing with them because they were in contempt of court,” he added.
Veteran Communications expert, Professor Kwame Karikari counseled President Mahama not to accede to pressure to release the convicts since it would send a dangerous signal and wreck his chances of retaining power in December.
Professor Karikari who has been championing media and journalists’ rights through his Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) for decades said “There’s no serious president in a democracy that will cede to a call like that under our circumstances. It will be politically suicidal for the president to accede to the call of his party.”