General News of Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Flagbearer of the Progressive People’s Party has said the remission of the four month jail term handed the Montie convicts is one of the worst actions taken since independence.
Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom said the decision will forever remain an albatross on the conscience of president John Mahama long after he has left office.
The incensed flagbearer said Mahama ‘s decision to intervene only sent a wrong signal that party members are above the law and that they can do anything and go scot free.
On Monday, president John Mahama announced a controversial decision to free three people- a radio presenter Salifu Maase and two panelists Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako-Gunn- jailed for scandalising the court.
The three had threatened to kill judges of the Supreme Court if a case brought against the Electoral Commission did not go the way of the Commission.
They also threatened to rape the Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood. When they were hauled before the court to answer why they shouldn’t be held for contempt of the court, the three men together with the Directors of the radio station-Montie FM- pleaded guilty and were sentenced. The three were handed four month jail term and fines of 10,000 cedis each.
There were protests by members of the governing party to have the president activate his powers of mercy under Article 72 and free the convicts.
Barely a month in jail, the president, on the advice of the Council of State announced the decision to remit the sentence handed to the convicts.
That decision has triggered mixed reaction with Ghanaians happy and angry in equal measure at the president’s decision.
Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom, who is also aspiring to the high office of president said the decision by President Mahama was unacceptable.
“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.
When somebody does something this terrible and threaten the lives of an essential part of our democracy you will expect that the president of the land will let things run the normal course,” he said.
Dr Nduom said no amount of rationalisation by government spokespersons and political party representatives will make this decision right.
“It is important for us to understand discipline. No excuses! We must be very clear on this. There is a reason why when a child is born we show them alcohol and we show them water to signify that there is good and there is bad,” he stated.
The PPP flagbearer chided the Attorney General for sleeping on her job and failing to prosecute the three contempt convicts.
He said if there was an independent prosecution, something his government will institute if it wins power, these three persons would have been prosecuted independently without the judges themselves taking contempt action against them. Dr Nduom said the decision by the president has dire repercussion on the country’s democracy and its moral conscience. “There are few things in this country that gets me worked up. This is one of them,” he said. He would not advice any one to go to court with this case, saying this will live with president Mahama even after he retires from office.
When he was asked if the constitution must be amended to limit the powers of the president, Dr Papa Kwesi Nduom stated the constitution has to be changed and he will engineer that change.
He said the constitution was only framed to protect one man-ex-president John Rawlings saying what the country is practicing now is dictatorship masked in a democracy.