The Montie Three and Professor Opoku-Agyemang’s signing of the petition

The Montie 3 and Professor Opoku-Agyemang’s signing of the petition

Opinions of Monday, 13 July 2020

Columnist: Dr Sharif Mahmud Khalid


The Montie trio after they were releasedThe Montie trio after they had been launched

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Students of correction and rehabilitation are of the view {that a} President’s energy to “grant reprieves and pardons for offenses…is a direct lineal descendant of government clemency provisions which had been exercised from the early instances by the English Crown”. In Ghana, the ability to ‘grant reprieves and pardons for offenses finds a pleasure of place in Article 72 of the Structure, 1992. This energy and proper has been exercised by all of the presidents below the Fourth Republic.

In 2016, Salifu Maase, aka Mugabe; Alistair Tairo Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn had been convicted by the Supreme Courtroom for contempt of courtroom owing to some unsavoury statements made by the trio. They had been sentenced to 4-months imprisonment and fined 10,000 every. After the conviction and sentence, the convicts on 1st August 2016 wrote a petition to His Excellency, The President of the Republic of Ghana, urging him to train the prerogative of mercy below article 72 of the 1992 Structure of their favour. This petition was forwarded to the Council of State for its recommendation. By a letter dated 19th August 2016, the Council of State suggested that the President may train the Prerogative of Mercy.

The remainder they are saying is historical past therefore one would have thought that this matter was correctly interred. However the nomination by President John Mahama of Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang has exhumed the in any other case buried matter. There are those that say that Prof. Opoku-Agyemang’s compassionate act of signing the petition is a tacit endorsement of the contempt the trio had been deemed to have dedicated.

Signing a petition to plead for clemency doesn’t quantity to an endorsement of the act in query. It has develop into essential to underscore this level in gentle of the exhumation of the Montie Three saga, a problem which has develop into a serious sauce on the propaganda menu as a result of a petition that pleaded for clemency was signed by Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang.

All through Ghana’s Historical past, Presidents have provided pardon to individuals convicted of various offences. Within the train of that proper, it has usually been mentioned that the presidents’ grant of amnesty to those prisoners come as a “signal of mercy and goodwill”.

Among the instances come to the eye of Presidents through petitions and lobbying from individuals. Might one, due to this fact, conclude that granting presidential pardon to those convicts quantities to a tacit endorsement of the offences dedicated by them? If the grantor of the pardon just isn’t seen as tacitly endorsing the act, how rather more somebody who indicators a petition to that impact? The flexibility to petition and grant clemency has at all times been welcomed in any society that commits to the rule of legislation and civilized justice.

As current as March 2020, President Nana Akufo-Addo pardoned 808 prisoners. A few of these convicted criminals included first time offenders, whereas inmates on demise row had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. Would this act of clemency imply that the President endorses or helps the actions that actuated the convictions? And if there had been a petition to free or cut back the sentences of a few of these individuals, would the petitioners have been endorsing their crimes?

What the petition for the Montie Three did was to ask President Mahama to mood justice with mercy of their case. On the time the petition was signed and despatched to President Mahama, the three males had been in jail for nearly six weeks. The fines for all of the defendants had been paid as nicely. To be punished on this method for reckless discuss on radio just isn’t one thing that has occurred usually up to now 20 years, on the very least.

In the midst of the petition for commutation, it was argued that in the course of the listening to of the election petition, a number of of such individuals had been hurled earlier than the Supreme Courtroom for scandalised feedback like that of the Montie 3. The late Sir John, ex-NPP Basic Secretary on 25th June 2013 descended on Justice William Atuguba who was presiding choose of the panel and described him as a hypocrite, a voodoo deity and a joker. This remark incurred the displeasure of the Supreme Courtroom.

In a Day by day Graphic report of the proceedings on that fateful day, it was acknowledged that “Mr Justice Dotse mentioned he couldn’t imagine it when he learn the content material of the newspaper which had printed Sir John’s phrases attacking the bench as a result of ‘he’s a really senior lawyer’ who had mates on the Supreme Courtroom panel, including that it was unlucky for Sir John to have requested the kinfolk of the judges listening to the case to plan the funerals of the judges.

He mentioned he was ‘saddened’ that not one of the NPP management condemned Sir John’s contemptuous phrases and mentioned it was unlucky for such phrases to be uttered as a result of they may endanger the peace within the nation.”

Regardless of the demise threats, the courtroom unanimously discovered him responsible of legal contempt, imposed a GH¢5,000 fantastic on him and directed him to pay the cash by the shut of labor, August 15, 2013. Hopeson Adorye, one other contemnor and a member of the Communications Crew of the NPP, was convicted of legal contempt for the same offence and fined GH¢2,000 or in default face three months’ imprisonment. From this priority, was it unreasonable for some Ghanaians to plead for clemency for the Montie 3?

This context doesn’t in any method search to equalise or impugn partisan consideration however to strengthen the observe of merciful petition and the request for clemency. Following occasions, the nationwide chairman of the NPP on the time, Mr Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, expressed his gratitude to the courtroom for demonstrating ‘magnanimity and sensitivity’ in its choice. It was in the same sense of magnanimity and sensitivity that the Montie Three petition was triggered.

Throughout the petition, by the point the petition was signed, the trio had spent 1 month on the Nsawam Most Safety Jail. A pardon neither obliterates the file of conviction nor establishes the innocence of an individual; it merely forgives the offense.

So, may or not it’s mentioned that Prof Opoku-Agyemang appending her signature to the petition was establishing the innocence of the trio? That the assertion by the Montie Three was dangerous was not in rivalry. Nevertheless, what was in challenge was the 4-months imprisonment which different well-meaning thought was so harsh therefore the petition for commutation of sentence.

The petitioners thus argued that after serving a good portion of their sentence for scandalizing a courtroom, the Montie Three deserved mercy and compassion. Nevertheless, it bears repeating that such an argument is on no account meant that the reckless feedback made by the individuals had been endorsed by the petitioners.

It was merely a case of asking for forgiveness and a lowered sentence for residents of Ghana which is a common proper that’s enshrined in our structure.

Within the gentle of the foregoing, Prof Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang didn’t in any method, kind or method endorse the acts of the Montie 3. For anybody to lambast her unjustly that her compassionate plea of mercy for the contemnors was a tacit endorsement of these statements is a cavalier disregard for the reality.

Individuals resort to lies once they supply no solace. Arguing that signing a petition for clemency is an endorsement of an offense suggests a sure willingness to forsake typical expectation. It bears repeating that Prof Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang, no doubt, is coming into her new function with a shocking resume and expertise, cast in over 30 years of service to the nation.

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