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General News of Wednesday, 27 July 2016


‘Mugabe’ jailing lesson to journos – GJA

File photo of a microphone File photo of a microphone

The four-month jail term handed by the Supreme Court to Salifu Maase, aka ‘Mugabe’, a radio talk show host of Montie FM, as well as two panellists found guilty of contempt, should serve as warning to all journalists in the country, President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) Affail Monney has said.

“This should serve as a lesson to all of us. We pray that none of our members will fall victim to the law again, so that we join forces and tackle what is ahead of us in election 2016,” he said on Wednesday July 27, shortly after the court sentenced the three to imprisonment for contempt.

Mugabe, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn were hauled before the court after threatening to kill justices of the apex court during a radio discussion on Accra-based Montie FM. Apart from the prison sentence, each of them has also been fined a sum of GHS1,000. 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, Mr Ato Ahwoi and Mr Kwesi Kyei Atuah, have been fined GHS30,000. They are to pay the fine by the end of Thursday July 28. 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.

At their last appearance before Wednesday’s sentencing, Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn, and Salifu Maase, aka Mugabe, were found guilty of scandalising the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court, and bringing it into disrepute.

They were granted self-recognisance bail. Their lawyers pleaded for mercy since all their clients were first-time offenders.

The two radio pundits issued the threat when they spoke on a political programme called ‘Pampaso’ a few weeks ago as they discussed a case between the PNC’s Abu Ramadan and the Electoral Commission regarding the credibility and sanctity of the register of voters as far as the existence on the roll of people who registered with their National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards, was concerned.

The two discussants warned the judges to deliver would be a favourable judgment on the matter, or risk suffering the same fate (extrajudicial execution) meted out to three of their forebears in 1982 during the PNDC junta of Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings.

For Mr Monney, journalists should be responsible even as they enjoy their freedom to practice. “The media landscape is littered with legal mines and legal potholes,” he said.

He, however, appealed to law enforcement agencies not to take actions “that will shackle the media in their line of duty,” adding: “We will meet as a body to deliberate on our next line of action, but when one member of the association is touched, it affects the whole association. We, however, caution our members not to do any other thing, but uphold the peace,” he told Joy FM.