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General News of Friday, 26 August 2016

Source: Class FM

Never again - Montie 3 declare

The Montie 3 have said the past one month in jail has been a difficult one for them and declared that never again will they misconduct themselves in the manner they did.

Speaking at the premises of Montie FM in Accra shortly after their release from the Nsawam Medium Security Prison today, Friday 26 August, the trio expressed appreciation to Mr Mahama for “graciously exercising his constitutional powers under Article 72 of the Constitution in our favour in remitting the remainder of the custodial sentence imposed on us recently”.

They added: “We would also like to thank the Council of State profusely for their role in our release.

“Let us restate our sincerest apologies to Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justices of the Supreme Court, and the Bench in general for the unfortunate and regrettable conduct which was rightly condemned by all Ghanaians. The past month has been a difficult one for us and none of us will ever wish to find himself anywhere near that situation again. Never again! That being said, we have learned our lesson and we’ll like to reiterate President Mahama’s call to our fellow media practitioners and all who appear on our platforms to take a cue from what happened to us and be circumspect in our utterances.”

President John Mahama recently granted remission of the remainder of the four-month jail sentence imposed on the trio by the Supreme Court.

Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn, and Salifu Maase (Mugabe) were found guilty of scandalising the Supreme Court, defying and lowering its authority, and bringing it into disrepute and handed the custodial sentence plus a fine.

While the governing party has welcomed the remission, opposition parties have criticised the president for freeing the trio.

A statement signed and released on Monday, 22 August, by Communications Minister Dr Edward Omane Boamah said: “The President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama, has, in consultation with the Council of State and in exercise of his constitutional powers under Article 72 of the Constitution, remitted the remainder of the prison sentence imposed on three persons: Salifu Maase (alias Mugabe), Alistair Nelson, and Ako Gunn, who were sentenced to four months' imprisonment and a fine of GHS10,000.00 each for contempt of court. The remission is effective 26th August, 2016.

“The three were sentenced on 27th July, 2016 and have served part of the prison sentences imposed on them. They have also paid the GHS 10,000.00 (ten thousand cedis) fines. The decision of His Excellency the President to remit their sentences on compassionate grounds follows a petition submitted to him by the contemnors appealing to the president to exercise his prerogative of mercy even as they continue to express deep remorse and regret for the unacceptable statements they made against the judiciary.

“His Excellency President Mahama takes this opportunity to remind all Ghanaians of the need to respect the institutions of state and exercise freedom of speech responsibly mindful of the need to preserve peace and national unity. The president reminds all concerned especially persons working in the media or appearing on its platforms to be circumspect and guard against the use of intemperate language which has the potential of causing unnecessary tension especially in this election year.

“The President is hopeful that all will draw lessons from the events leading to the conviction of the three persons and bear in mind the consequences of injudicious utterances.”

Background

Mr Gunn and Mr Nelson, who were panellists on a political talk show called Pampaso on Montie FM hosted by Mugabe threatened to kill judges of the apex court while discussing issues concerning the register of voters on June 29, 2016.

On Wednesday July 27, the Supreme Court of Ghana handed the jail term to the three convicts. Apart from the jail sentence, each of them was also fined a sum of GHS 10,000. 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, were also fined GHS 30,000 each. The owners were also asked by the Supreme Court to submit policy documents spelling out how to forestall similar happenings in the future. They were also asked to ensure that none of their media outlets was used to scandalise the court or bring it into disrepute.

Right after the sentencing, several groups and individuals started making arguments for the need for the president to free the trio. A group called Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP) gathered signatures from citizens to support a petition presented to President John Mahama.

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