You are here: HomeWallOpinionsArticles2016 09 02Article 467023

Opinions of Friday, 2 September 2016

Columnist: Africanus Owusu-Ansah

Stirring up the hornets’ nest Montie trio revivified

By Africanus Owusu-Ansah

“No man is an iland intire of it selfe

Every man is a peece of the continent,

A part of the maine…

Any man’s death diminishes me

For I am involved in mankinde.

And therefore never send to know

For whom the bell tolls;

It tolls for thee…”


John Donne

Larken Rose writes: “The truth is, one who seeks to achieve freedom by petitioning those in power to give it to him has already failed, regardless of the response”.

And so it came to pass that an array of ministers and lay persons, party moguls and acolytes petitioned the President to shower mercy on the Montie – Trio. Was it or was it not orchestrated or choreographed from the seat of government? A book was opened and notable persons, including those in charge of womanhood, unashamedly joined the queue to append their signatures.

Robert Maase a.k.a. Mugabe became the spokesperson for himself and the other two, after their release: Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn. Where the Supreme Court had shown no mercy to the Montie – Trio, the President had shown clemency; where the court had been callous, the President had been compassionate; inflexibility gave way to sympathy; and many, many, more.

Mugabe disclosed: “The past month has been a difficult one for us and none of us will ever wish to be anywhere near that situation again.” Abraham Lincoln might have said: “Your freedom to act ends where my nose begins, “and Oliver Wendell Holmes popularized it. John Finch in an oration noted: “… but your right to swing your arm leaves off where my right not to have my nose struck begins”. Whoever it suits may adopt it.

Democracy entails various individual freedoms: our Constitution (1992) is replete with these individual freedoms. Chapter 5 contains entrenched clauses which can only be amended by referendum where at least 40% of registered voters cast their votes and of those voting, at least 75% vote in favour of the amendment.

Who would be so insensitive as to wish the Montie – trio languish in prison? But they called for it. They had a job to do for their paymasters, the NDC and President Mahama, and Mugabe had bragged that he was ready to be a martyr for President Mahama, and of course, the NDC. Na who cause am? A Krio proverb goes like this: “Yanga de for bush, you go bring am for house”.

Remember the story of the hunter who brought home a tortoise who could sing. After the Chief had beaten the gong and the villagers had assembled to listen to the ‘singing tortoise’, the reptile refused to sing. The hunter was slaughtered. The tortoise stepped out singing: “Asem mpe nipa, nipa na ope asem; Asem mpe nipa, nipa na ope asem (Trouble doesn’t search for a villain; it is the villain who searches for trouble). End of my Anansesem.

As far as the judiciary was concerned, the stage had been set. It was for the judiciary to fall victim to the hangman’s noose. There had been an elaborate plan to ‘entrap’ some of the judges, and some of them fell into the trap. It gave the authorities the chance to mock the judiciary—in short, the judiciary denigrated itself. Some judges had been caught on video taking bribes!

In a bizarre, grotesque and preposterous manner, Anas Aremeyaw Anas and Tiger Eye had approached some of the judges ostensibly to plead on behalf of some accused persons; then offered them unsolicited amounts and other gifts like sheep and yam.

These paid stooges then captured the judges on video and used the video as a bait to lure the Chief Justice to dismiss them. What? People are denying having contracted Anas and Tiger Eye to do that dirty job, but Ghanaians know better.

The Prerogative of Mercy under Article 72 of our Constitution (1992) follows the British tradition of Royal Prerogative of Mercy under which the British monarch grants ‘royal pardon’ to a convict, most notably a person on the death roll. In Rwanda, the President can exercise this authority, but only after consulting the Supreme Court on the matter. Here in Ghana, he can do so after consulting the Council of State.

Ever since the news about the release of the Montie Trio broke out, a number of personalities and organisations have offered their comments. Occupyghana had written to the President to disregard the petition signed by persons that regrettably include certain ministers and deputy ministers and members of the President’s staff.

Veteran Lawyer Ndebugri has noted that the pardon has set inappropriate standards for future governments. The flagbearer of the PPP has expressed regret over President Mahama’s action. Paa Kwesi Nduom thinks: “This is leadership gone wrong.

When you have a young country and a majority of the people are young, it is important we build a just and disciplined society… no amount of rationalization by government spokespersons and political party representatives will make this decision right…This will live with President Mahama even after he retires from office”.

In condemning the action by President Mahama, the NDP in a release signed by the General Secretary of the party notes: “… the action represents an endorsement of the use of foul and invective language… and more importantly, the President’s action is a slap in the face of the Judiciary as well as an action that undermines the Judiciary in the effective discharge of the Constitutional powers…giving fuel to irresponsible political talk… the advice of the President to the people of Ghana to refrain from the use of such language is hypocritical and ironic as the act of pardon was a direct antithesis of the import of such advice… encourage the ‘bad mouthers’ to go on an insulting spree fortified in the knowledge that no harm shall ever befall them”.

The statement “Never again, and I say never again…” appears to have been made tongue – in – cheek. The Montie – Trio may be licking their lips. The statement appears ironic, blithe, comical, insincere, whimsical and facetious.

While the Montie – Trio were having powder lavishly poured on them at Radio Gold, Accra, there were taunts like: ‘Bue Gya’ (Open fire!) ‘Go and burn the sea’. One of the ex – contemnors pouted his lips in a show of ‘contempt’ for all Ghanaians. And the jubilant crowd would not spare Lawyer Obiri Boahen!

Lawyer Maurice Ampaw may be ending his 10 – day hunger strike over the President’s action , threatening: “President Mahama will pay dearly politically for freeing the Montie Trio; he cannot do things to please his party to the detriment of majority of Ghanaians”. He would embark on a house-to-house campaign to educate the electorate on why President Mahama should be rejected.

Another lawyer, Mr Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, who is the President of the Brong –Ahafo Regional branch of the Ghana Bar Association has initiated legal action seeking the intervention of the Supreme Court to reverse the President’s decision to remit the sentences from four months to one month.

The same court? He argues: “… the power of the President to exercise prerogative of mercy is limited to criminal convictions, and convictions from contempt proceedings are initiated by the Attorney General only” He adds:”… any decision by the President to grant or refuse a pardon is not one to be made on the basis of the political question doctrine that can be made without reasons being given for the exercise of such power”.

It appears Lawyer Atta Akyea holds the same view. Has the President stirred up the hornets’ nest? Or is he now stirring it up? We live to see what comes out of this rigmarole.

Writer's e-mail: africanusoa@gmail.com