President John Dramani Mahama has granted remission of the prison sentence imposed on three persons otherwise known as Montie trio, for contempt of court.
The three were sentenced on July 27, 2016 and have served part of the prison sentences imposed on them. They have also paid the GH¢10,000 fines.
A statement issued in Accra yesterday signed by the Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, said the decision of the President to remit the sentences on compassionate grounds followed a petition submitted to him by the contemnors appealing to the President to exercise his prerogative of mercy even as they continued to express deep remorse and regret for the unacceptable statements they made against the Judiciary.
“His Excellency President Mahama takes this opportunity to remind all Ghanaians of the need to respect the institutions of State and exercise freedom of speech responsibly, mindful of the need to preserve peace and national unity,” it added.
It also said the President reminded all concerned, especially persons working in the media or appearing on its platforms, to be circumspect and guard against the use of intemperate language which had the potential of causing unnecessary tension, especially in this election year.
The President, the statement said, was hopeful that all would draw lessons from the events leading to the conviction of the three persons and bear in mind the consequences of injudicious utterances.
The Montie Three
The Supreme Court, on July 27, 2016, sent a strong warning to people who make irresponsible comments on media platforms by sentencing the two radio panellists and the programme host to four months’ imprisonment each for scandalising the court.
They were also asked to pay GH¢10,000 each or in default serve an additional one month in prison.
The two panellists, spurred on by Maase, threatened the lives of judges of the superior court, especially those who heard the case on the credibility of the country’s electoral roll filed by Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako against the Electoral Commission (EC).
The trio, together with the directors of Network Broadcasting Company Limited (NBCL), operators of Montie FM, the radio station where the comments were made, and ZeZe Media, owners of the station frequency, were on July 18, 2016 convicted for contempt of the apex court.
They were found guilty of scandalising the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court and bringing the name of the court into disrepute.
The court, however, did not sentence the trio for the threat of harm and death that they made against the judges, explaining that that constituted another matter for another branch of government to take action.
The sentence was read by Ms Justice Sophia Akuffo, who presided.
Other members of the panel were Mr Justice Gabriel Pwamang, Mr Justice A.A. Benin, Mr Justice Anin Yeboah and Mr Justice Julius Ansah.
Operators of Montie FM
The gavel of the apex court also fell on NBCL and ZeZe Media, as the two companies were fined GH¢30,000 each.
They were also ordered to present to the court how they intended to prevent the contemptuous act from being repeated.
The NBCL was ordered to produce the policies and measures that it had developed with regard to its operations which would prevent a similar contemptuous act on its platform.
ZeZe Media was also ordered to produce its policies and measures which would attest to the fact that its frequency (100.1 FM) “shall not give rise to any act of contempt’’.
But their sentencing was met with dissent from the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) and its followers, including some ministers of state.
Ministers of state and other party faithful signed a petition pleading with the President to exercise a presidential pardon for the three under Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution.
The Chief of Staff, Mr Julius Debrah, forwarded the petition to the Council of State for action.