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General News of Friday, 19 July 2013

Source: Peace FM

Contempt of court still applicable – Segbefia

Contempt of court was for some weeks a topical issue within the legal boundary of the land with some people being hauled before the Supreme Court to answer queries after having fallen foul.

Deputy Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party, Sammy Awuku, was the first to be dragged before the judges sitting on the election petition case, and probably realized his ‘real size’ after a barrage of questions from the “Sanhedrin”; the nine-member panel. He, however, escaped punishment.

Soon after, the Editor of the Daily Searchlight, Ken Kuranchie and an NDC Communicator, Stephen Atubiga, were not fortunate enough as the court sentenced them to 10 days and 3 days imprisonment respectively, for making contemptuous comments about the election petition.

However, it is likely that after the “battle of evidence” and cross-examination which ended on Wednesday, some might delude themselves into thinking the warnings issued by the court for people not to scandalize its integrity have lost its effectiveness.

Consequently, a former Chief of Staff, Mr. Alex Segbefia, has reminded political figures and the entire nation of the court order, cautioning the citizenry to be mindful of their utterances.

Speaking on Radio Gold on Thursday, he pointed out that anyone who passes commentary that may scandalize the integrity of the nine-member panel sitting on the election dispute can still be charged with contempt.

He advised them not to “forget that technically, even though we don’t go to court, contempt of court still applies. So, people should be a little bit circumspect in their language from now till we can get back to court on 31st.”

The former deputy Chief of Staff also issued a warning to political parties to refrain from any attempt to put a twist on the election petition.

He warned the parties not to hype the outcome of the case, but rather psych their supporters to accept the court verdict irrespective of the direction it takes.

He explained that the petition has created anxiety on both sides of the political divide and it would be advisable for all parties to note that “at the end of the day, no political party is going to make the decision and no one is in the bosom of the court or for that matter of the Supreme Court to say how they see the evidence,” or determine the nature of the irregularities that emerged from petition.

“Hyping people’s expectations is not the way forward. Explain yourself succinctly. Don’t make a judgment for the Supreme Court,” he further stated.

In his view, the court process was ‘fair’ to all parties involved in the election dispute.

Mr Segbefia further stressed that the party is “confident that no surprises will expend on us in terms of the evidence that came out. So, as far as the respondents or the NDC as political party who was represented there is concerned, we didn’t come across any serious surprises that will make anybody cringe.”

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