General News of Thursday, 18 August 2016
One of the lawyers for the Montie trio, George Loh, has disagreed with former Attorney General, Martin Amidu’s assertions that they failed their clients with a poor defence in their contempt case before the Supreme Court.
Martin Amidu, held that since the trio’s contempt was committed outside the jurisdiction of the court, the Justices could not have heard the case in the manner that led to their conviction thus contravening several Articles of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
But according to Mr. Loh, the court exercised its inherent jurisdiction in the matter hence there was no need for them as lawyers to challenge the procedure being used by the panel of the apex court.
Speaking to Citi News’ Duke Mensah Opoku, the lawyer also intimated that, Martin Amidu’s conclusion on the quality of their advocacy was ill-informed.
“I believe Martin Amidu did not pay attention to the proceedings from day one. I am sure if he had, and if he had spent some time analyzing the whole length, he would not be saying the things that he is saying. I have read what he posted and I disagree with him when he says that,” he said.
Mr. Loh explained that, Supreme Court justices have the locus to invoke inherent jurisdiction under common law, adding that, “they didn’t invoke any legislation. They invoked their inherent jurisdiction to bring you before them to answer and I don’t see how anybody would say that the court was wrong for them to answer.”
He also retorted that, the trio’s legal team had indeed raised reservations with Supreme Court’s handling of the case, but their concerns were shot down.
“When we were in court before the Justices, we did indicate that the trial should be conducted in another manner. They were of the view what we were raising was just for academic purposes, and that was coming from the Judges of the Supreme Court,” he said.
Another former AG disagrees with Amidu
A former Attorney General in the NPP administration, Ayikoi Otoo, also believes Martin Amidu is in the wrong with his assessment as he argued to Citi News that, there was an overriding precedent that invalidated his arguments.
He explained that precedents had been set when Ken Kuranchie, Stephen Atubiga, Sir John, Hopeson Adoye and Sammy Awuku, were all summoned by the Supreme Court and dealt with in 2012.
“The Supreme Court has also held in another matter that article 88 which empowers the Attorney General to deal with criminal cases does not cover criminal contempt matters and that criminal contempt is contempt inherent in the court itself,” Ayikoi Otoo explained.
“That power to punish for contempt is inherent in the court, it does not emanate from any criminal prosecution from outside, so it is the court that must deal with it, and they don’t need the Attorney General to prosecute it,” he added.
Why the Montie three were convicted
Salifu Maase, host and his two panelists; Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, are currently serving a four month prison sentence handed them by the Supreme Court in July, after they were found guilty of contempt charges.
The two panelists had threatened to kill justices of the Supreme Court over their handling of the lawsuit questioning the credibility of Ghana’s voters’ register.