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Opinions of Monday, 8 August 2016

Columnist: Okoampa-Ahoofe, Kwame

To jubilate or not to jubilate

Supreme Court Supreme Court

The tragedy of the conviction and sentencing of the Montie Three to 4 months’ imprisonment, apiece, on the part of the supporters and sympathizers of Messrs. Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, inheres far less in the actual judicial action than the rather painful fact that these supporters, quite a remarkable number of whom are professionally trained lawyers, have little or no appreciation, whatsoever, of the legal crime and incitement to hatred that it entails.

Indeed, in handing down its verdict and sentencing, the presiding judge, Justice Sophia Akuffo, was widely reported to have stressed the fact that the hateful speech for which the members of the Montie Three gang got convicted had brought the reputation and integrity of the Apex Court into abject disrepute. That much is incontrovertible.

What Justice Akuffo, however, left out of her otherwise spot-on description of the patent element of criminality in such hateful is that it incited people in the general population already unfavorably disposed towards the institution of the judicial system in general, and the members of the Supreme Court in particular, to act out their violent and lurid sentiments.

And the preceding observation is of great moment because one aspect of the barbaric treatment of the three Akan-descended Accra High Court judges who were abducted from their homes on June 30, 1982 and savagely executed, Mafia-style, on the instructions of then-Chairman Jerry John Rawlings and Captain (Ret.) Kojo Tsikata, that had been totally ignored, in a bid to painting the bigger picture of ethnic cleansing, as it were, had to do with the fact that the one female jurist among the three, namely, Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow, had been brutally raped shortly prior to her execution and the conflagration of her mortal remains.

And so when one of the Montie Three thugs either vowed or threatened to rape Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood, the would-be rapist was eerily evoking a precedent. Then also, the fact that these three thugs would jubilantly evoke the brutal assassination of all three Accra High Court judges on the 34th anniversary of their traumatic execution, in of itself, constituted a felonious crime of the highest order.

But that a brigade of professionally trained Ghanaian lawyers, most of whom also happen to be Mahama cabinet appointees, would boldly and shamelessly append their signatures to a presidential petition seeking to have the conviction of the Montie Three nullified, is all the more worrisome. Indeed, were Ghana reckoned among civilized global democracies, ministerial appointees like Nana Oye Lithur, Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare and Hanna Tetteh, among a platoon of others, would have promptly been expelled from the Mahama cabinet. Now, let’s talk about women’s rights and human rights!

At any rate, what inspired this write-up, as many a Ghanaian back home is wont to characterize it, was the very angry declaration of Mr. Baba Jamal Konneh, described as the Communications Director of the Eastern Regional Branch of the ruling National Democratic Congress. According to Mr. Konneh, many a supporter and sympathizer of the main opposition New Patriotic Party, in particular staunch supporters of the party’s 2016 Presidential Candidate, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, was heartily celebrating the incarceration of the Montie Three.

Well, Mr. Konneh may have a point, except the fact that such jubilation and/or celebration of the immurement of the Montie Three, contrary to what the NDC operative would have the rest of the world believe, was squarely predicated more on the fact that finally the country’s judiciary was beginning to healthily regain a remarkable bit of its long-eviscerated power to infuse sanity into our decidedly frazzled societal fabric than anything else.

Mr. Konneh is, however, egregiously offside to remark that when Messrs. Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie (aka Sir John), Sammy Awuku and Hopeson Adorye were caught in the leaden web of judicial contempt in the midst of the 2012 presidential-election petition, it was NDC operatives who paid the fines for these New Patriotic Party stalwarts.

Well, to the best of my knowledge, it was Mr. Paul Collins Appiah-Ofori (aka PC), the retired NPP-MP from Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa, who footed most of the bills as well as, I presume without any fear of contradiction, some heavy-lifters among the vanguard ranks of the New Patriotic Party. I have also never known Nii Ayikoi-Otoo, the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, to have avidly trucked with the NDC constabulary.

Our people have a saying that if you are going to indulge in any form of apocryphal mendacity, make sure that at least you have created a sizeable aperture by way of an escape route, in case of an emergency.

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