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General News of Wednesday, 17 August 2016


Amidu’s take on Montie trio wrong – Ayikoi Otoo

A former Attorney General in the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, Ayikoi Otoo, has said Martin Amidu’s interpretation of the Constitution in relation to the sentencing of the three Montie FM trio and the owners of the station is wrong.

Martin Amidu, also a former Attorney General in the NDC administration in his latest piece on the sentencing of the Montie trio, said the procedure adopted by the Supreme Court in sentencing the sentence was unconstitutional.

He also said the President will not necessarily undermine the judiciary if he chooses to pardon the three, since that is the only option available to them. But Ayikoi Otoo in an interview with Citi News, argued that, there is an overriding precedent that invalidates the arguments put forth by the Amidu.

“…While I respect the views that he has espoused, I think that it is wrong and that is not the present position of the law.” Salifu Maase, host and his two panelists; Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, commonly referred to as the Montie trio, are currently serving a four month prison sentence handed them by the Supreme Court in July, after they were found guilty of contempt charges.

The two panelists had on a live radio threatened to eliminate justices of the Supreme Court over their handling of the lawsuit questioning the credibility of Ghana’s voters’ register.

According to the outspoken Amidu, although the Supreme Court has the power to commit for contempt, it erred in this instance because the act in question occurred outside court.

The sentencing of the three, he said, “runs roughshod over the liberty of the individual under Chapter 5 of the Constitution.” But speaking to Citi News, Ayikoi Otoo disagreed with Amidu’s argument. “I don’t agree with him.

First of all, precedents have been set which has that Ken Kuranchie, Atubiga, Sir John, Hopeson Adoye including Sammy Awuku, at a point were all summoned by the Supreme Court and dealt with in this same summary manner.

The Supreme Court has also held in another matter that article 88 which empowers the Attorney General to deal with criminal cases does not cover criminal contempt matters and that criminal contempt is contempt inherent in the court itself.” “That power to punish for contempt is inherent in the court, it does not emanate from any criminal prosecution from outside, so it is the court that must deal with it, and they don’t need the Attorney General to prosecute it,” he added.

Ayikoi Otoo further argued that, the Supreme Court, is “not normally bound by its previous decision, but until it changes its mind on a particular matter, that position is what must always win.” “He [Amidu] cited the case of Liberty Press and Mensah Bonsu where the Attorney General prosecuted them but subsequently, the Supreme Court said you don’t need the Attorney General to prosecute anybody and due to that, they have dealt with contempt [cases] directly by themselves.

That is the law, until the position changes. So I don’t agree with him [Amidu] at all.” “Even the article which deals with no person should be punished except for an offense and punishment which are defined, excludes contempt of court cases which tells you that, it is a different category, so while I respect the views that he has espoused, I think that it is wrong and that is not the present position of the law,” Ayikoi Otoo added.