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Opinions of Sunday, 4 September 2016

Columnist: Otchwemah, Patricia

President pardon montie trio; a clear case of insanity

A dark day in Ghana’s History that hit the judiciary so hard is June 30, 1982. On this day three high court judges and a retired army officer were abducted from their homes by some group of unknown persons to somewhere unknown.

The following morning news of the abduction and consequent pledge by government to find and rescue these victims, one of whom was a nursing mother went viral.

The Chief Justice, High Courts and Families of these victims might have anticipated the return of their employees and loved ones respectively but charred bodies found later and identified to be the abductees were the evidence that their colleagues and families would return no more.

Reports from the special investigation board had it that the abduction and execution was a plot hatched in connivance of members of the then Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC).

Names of prominent people were linked to this heinous crime against humanity. Whilst circumstance and status prevented the arrest and consequent prosecution of some of these persons evidence brought up against them could not suffice for prosecution. Some group of people were however arrested and sentenced to death.

Though Ghanaians have found the reason to forgive each other and moved on as a nation through the National Reconciliation process it remains in the annals of history that once upon time some members of the jury now referred to as Martyrs of the rule of law were murdered whilst discharging their core duty of administering justice to the deserved.

It is a little over three decades and the judiciary as an arm of government has not been spared from harsh whips from the tongue of Ghanaians for a myriad of reasons including shortfalls in the justice delivery system.

The law interpreters’ institution has come under heavy criticism following corruption allegations put against them on several platforms including the recent infamous Anas exposé.

The chief administrator of the institution on several occasions has been accused of compromising her political neutrality.

According to them, members of the bench are delivering political judgments at the court and embarrassing the government in the process and even cited a catalogue of actions that lend credence to the assertion.

Worst of all is the perception that the appointment of the current Chief Justice by the erstwhile Kuffour administration was her reward for doing a favourable job for President Kuffour, the New Patriotic Party and drug barons cited in the infamous MV Benjamin case.

In view of this members of the ruling NDC have once called on their party leader and president of Ghana to institute a public forum for people to present their accounts of the obvious administrative shortcomings, moral and pecuniary corruption in the justice system and act accordingly on the results of the forum, to give themselves and posterity a system of justice which keeps true to the constitutional requirements of the concept of justice originating and sustained by the people.

For some reason(s) their request or appeal was totally ignored by their own Mills–Mahama administration.

But the question that a common Ghanaian like myself cannot find answers to is if the Chief Justice appointment was a reward or token of appreciation for a good job done for President Kuffour and not based on merit and her incompetence has come to bare in her role as the administrator of the judiciary then what exactly has remained that singular impediment to a successive removal from office her Ladyship?

The debate on the trial of the Montie FM trio for making offensive comments on radio deemed to be threat to the lives of some judges in the country and the recent remission granted by the President has stolen the attention of all. The decision to exercise his prerogative power of mercy was not taken solely by the president but in consultation with the council of state.

Our ‘dead goat’ of a president for once did not turn deafening ear to the cry for mercy by sympathisers of the trio most of whom are followers of the ruling NDC party. The call was an insistence if not a kind reminder to the president to exercise his prerogative power of mercy per article 72 of the 1992 constitution to free the trio to which he has succumbed.

This action has been viewed as a political victory for members of the ruling party and ministers who signed various petitions amidst threat by sympathizers of the Montie FM three to vote against the ruling party if the president fails to come to the rescue of the trio.

It is few months to elections and threatening judges in times like this only brings fresh memories of the torture and execution of those three judges under the PNDC which has gone through metamorphosis to become the current democratic NDC.

Although the panel of members of the jury appeared to be caught up in the state of power drunkenness or fright we should not lose sight of the fact that it was actually an action aimed at taming the wild tongues of the victims and others whose mission is to psyche and incite people to commit violent acts in the upcoming election in the quest for political power.

Ghana needs peace as we prepare for the polls and such uncivilised and barbaric comments is a threat to the peace we are enjoying currently and continuously pray for.

Ghana’s democracy has stood the test of time. Under no circumstance should any Ghanaian entertain the fear that our nation will be caught up under the watch of military dictatorship; that is not to say it is not possible!

Guarded by similar thoughts probably it is only logical that the panel who sat on the case nip in the bud anything that will pose as a threat to their lives and the peace of this nation. Who knows history may be repeated? Thus the decision by the members of the jury to impose such heavy misfit sentence on their victims cannot be motivated by some sort of bad blood between the judiciary and the NDC.

The utterances made by the Montie trio whilst on air on Montie FM has been condemned by well meaning Ghanaians irrespective of political affiliation but as to whether the verdict passed by the judges befits the crime and the subsequent grant of remission by the president to the trio was a step taken out of deep thought or an abuse of power remains the subject of discussion wherever you find yourself.

The undisputed fact is that both actions taken by the judges and the president were based on the 1992 Constitution. If the victims were found undoubtedly culpable and the sentence and remission granted by the jury and the president respectively were necessary good or evil it is the constitution that has stood the test of time.

In the same vein if both actions taken by the jury and president are deemed unnecessary and lack sanity then it is a clear reflection of the insanity of the 1992 constitution.

The writer is a Ghanaian 'commoner' in love with her country