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General News of Monday, 11 July 2016

Source: rainbowradioonline.com

Montie panelits, host should be jailed­ - Lawyer Ampaw

Private legal practitioner Lawyer Maurice Ampaw has admonished the Supreme Court to crack the whip on the two Montie FM panellists in accordance with the law.

According to the attorney, failure to punish them will open the floodgate for other persons to do same and later apologise for their irresponsibility.

The Supreme Court will tomorrow hear a case of contempt against Alistair Nelson, along with another panellist, Godwin Ako Gunn, who allegedly threatened to kill judges who presided over the Abu Ramadan versus the Electoral Commission (EC) over the credibility of the register.

One of the panellists, Alister Nelson, issued an apology for making such statements.

But speaking in an interview with Kwame Tutu on Rainbow Radio 87.5FM, lawyer Maurice Ampaw said the judges had sworn an oath to do justice; hence there [should] do so in this case.

The lawyer who appeared to be highly charged described the case as the highest contempt in the history of the judiciary.

He posited that the panellists lack respect for the judiciary to the extent of scandalising the Supreme Court and further threatening to assault the Chief Justice sexually if they rule in favour of the plaintiffs.

"The statements from the panellists show clearly that they only respect the party NDC, President Mahama and their Members of Parliament and not the judiciary. To the extent of threatening to kill the judges and also specifically singling out the lady Chief Justice and threatening to sexually abuse her."

The agenda, he stressed, was not only to expose the judiciary to contempt, hatred and ridicule, but to put fear in them, insult them, and make them look like a useless institution in the country, and that is "the biggest contempt ever in the whole of Ghana since I started practicing law over the last 15 years. I have never seen such conduct that is so dangerous, so threatening, demeaning, direct, offensive, damaging, and degrading to that institution."

He also took a swipe at the BNI for their statement which sought to defend the panellists; claiming that they are incapable of carrying out the threat.

Lawyer Maurice Ampaw went on to say that, the Attorney-General may also not have the courage to prosecute the culprits because of their allegiance to the ruling party.

The BNI in their statement said Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, who allegedly threatened the judges are incapable of harming the judges.

But Lawyer Ampaw described this as unfortunate and a joke on the part of the security agency.

He said these statements cannot be compared to that of Sir John, Atubiga, and some other political persons who were all cited for contempt during the election petition.

He insisted the apex court should not just accept apologies from the culprits since that will set a precedence for others to follow and threaten lives of judges and later apologised.

''This impunity must stop... In my opinion, both the panellists, the host should be jailed. My opinion is not binding on the apex court, but they need jail to serve as a precedence in this country; that you cannot lower the highest institution of this country.

"Tomorrow the Supreme Court must speak and speak louder, that the institution- the judiciary- will not sit down for the executive, politicians, to run them down. They should show that they have the power to punish them severely. They should do justice. They have sworn an [oath of] justice, and I expect them to do so tomorrow.

"Ghanaians are looking up to the judges to do justice that will restore respect in the institution. People look to the apex court as a powerless institution. But they should gather the courage and show to the public that they have the power to deal with impunity in the country. My prayer is that the judges [will] punish the panellists severely."

Lawyer Ampaw refuted claims that such a punishment will be against the fundamental rights to freedom of expression. According to him, the fact that people have rights to express themselves does not warrant them to defame, scandalise and insult public office holders.

The judges, he concluded, are not above reproach, however, in criticising them, one should be circumspect in doing so.

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