Embattled General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, who narrowly escaped imprisonment, has revealed that he was tensed up when he appeared before the nine Supreme Court justices hearing the election petition, to answer contempt charges levelled against him.
Sir John, as he is affectionately called in political circles, was convicted for criminal contempt together with Hopeson Adorye, a member of one of the youth wings of his party, the Young Patriots.
They said standing before the justices was not easy at all, but thanked the Law Lords for allowing them to go home.
They were saved by the pleadings of their lawyer, Joseph Nii Ayikoi Otoo, a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice when they appeared in court on Wednesday, thereby escaping a possible prison sentence.
After what many described as a well-deserved tongue-lashing by president of the nine-member panel, Justice William Atuguba, the court decided to impose a fine of GH¢7,000 on both individuals and committed them to sign a bond to be of good behaviour for the next six and three months respectively.
The fine was immediately paid by P.C. Appiah Ofori, a former MP for Asikuma Odoben Brakwa in the Central Region.
Hours after the proceedings in court, DAILY GUIDE caught up with the two who recounted their ordeals.
When the question of whether or not he was bogged down by fear when he was before the judges, Sir John said, ‘Once you have pleaded guilty to the charges as preferred under the summons, then you are certainly under the mercy of their Lordships. Then they exercise their discretion in whatever manner that they like but of course they do that judiciously.
‘I also take into consideration the fact that I was reprimanded which I received very well in all humility because I believe that it was right that their Lordships should show their anger to the comments that I had made on radio,’ he said.
He expressed deep regret over the comments he made which landed him in trouble, saying, ‘As a lawyer myself, of 32years standing, I think that the words that I used were a little bit too harsh and it did not go down very well with their Lordships and I myself on hindsight have regretted having used those words to describe especially Justice Atuguba and by that extension the rest of the bench; I deeply regret that.’
An obviously repentant Sir John said, ‘I cannot complain about the manner of the admonishing that was given to me and the sentence that also followed; I cannot complain about that’.
He expressed the hope that the judges had forgiven him deep down their hearts.
The once tough-talking NPP General Secretary said, ‘From now on, we have all learnt our lessons; so we will continue to do the right things, continue to ensure that the rule of law works, democracy thrives and above all justice prevails in this country.’
Hopeson Adorye could not describe how humbled he felt when he appeared before the Supreme Court justices. ‘In the presence of the judges, I saw that there is some kind of power they have that we didn’t know outside the court.
‘When my eyes first flashed on the Coat of Arms, I said to myself, ‘Yes this is power’My first appearance in the Supreme Court actually reduced me to the minutest thing ever to exist in the world.
‘I’m grateful to them. In fact, they really tempered justice with mercy. Had it not been that I can tell you that maybe they could have given harsher punishments,’ he admitted.
He equally expressed regret for making the comments which nearly landed him in prison, saying, ‘I feel sad in making those comments.’
Hopeson Adorye said his fear was not really about going to prison but rather having his name in the criminal records of the country.
That notwithstanding, he admitted having been tensed up when the judges came from their chamber to deliver their ruling, since ‘freedom is always better’.
Gari and Shito
Hopeson said he had prepared for the worst, having taken his small ‘gari and shito’, in anticipation of a possible jail sentence.
‘I have regretted my actions and I am very grateful to the Supreme Court judges,’ he added.
He was thankful to Mr Appiah-Ofori for paying the GH¢2,000 fine.
The convicted NPP stalwarts both expressed profound gratitude to the justices for their magnanimity in handing down the sentence, believing God manifested Himself in them, considering the vigil some party faithful kept for their sake, with the hope that when the final ruling is delivered, all persons shall abide by it.
The two thanked their lawyer, Nii Ayikoi-Otoo, for the way he managed to soften the hearts of the judges By Charles Takyi-Boadu
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