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General News of Friday, 29 July 2016


Freeing Montie 3 'politically suicidal' - Karikari

President John Mahama President John Mahama

President John Mahama will be noosing his political career if he invoked Article 72 and freed the three Montie FM convicts, who have been condemned to a four-month jail term by the Supreme Court, the founder of the Media Foundation for West Africa, Prof Kwame Karikari, has said.

Mr. Mahama is seeking re-election in the December 7 polls.

Pressure is currently being mounted on him from members of his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC), to invoke Article 72 of the Constitution to grant a presidential pardon to Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn, and Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, who were sentenced to imprisonment for contempt.

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 National Democratic Congress, as well as Mr. Edward Addo, Ato Ahwoi, and Kwesi Kyei Atuah, have been fined GHS30000 each. They were given up to Thursday July 28 to pay the fine 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.

In order to pile pressure on Mr. Mahama to grant the three convicts pardon, Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP), a think tank, is pooling signatures to support a petition to that end.

Lawyers for the contemnors have also petitioned the president to fall on his constitutional powers to free the three.

But Prof Karikari said on Friday July 29 that: “...What the president will be saying [if he heeds to the call to pardon them] is that: 'Radio stations, do as you please, court or no court, do as you please. You can bastardise the court, you can incite violence, you can threaten people’s lives, and even go ahead to get people to do what we want the threats to do.' So, no serious president in a democracy will heed to a call like that under our circumstance. In fact, it will be politically suicidal for the president to accede to the call; that is why I am saying I hope the NDC is not serious with the call,” Prof Karikari told Accra-based Citi FM.