Calls Erring Radio Panelists ‘Weak Souls’… Ahead Of Supreme Court Invitation
The Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), has described the two radio panelists, reported to have threatened to kill Supreme Court judges on Accra-based Montie FM, as mere braggarts, who are incapable of carrying out the said threats.
The security agency, said though the two men; Alistair Tairo Nelson, a social commentator and Godwin Ako Gunn, a member of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) admitted in their caution statements as having made the said inflammatory comments, but interrogations, have revealed that they are unable to prosecute that agenda.
“At the interrogation, the two suspects admitted making those statements and acknowledged that their remarks were regrettable and unfortunate”, it said in a statement adding “further checks by the BNI have, however, established that the suspects were incapable of carrying out their pronouncements but did so in a show of needless bravado”.
Meanwhile, the apex court, has ordered the host of the programme “Pampaso” Salifu Maase alias “Mugabe” as well as his guests, Alistair and Ako Gunn to appear before it next week.
A formal summons by the Supreme Court, headed by the Chief Justice, Theodora Georgina Wood, says that the three must appear before it on Tuesday, July 12, 2016.
According to the summons, the three are expected to appear on Tuesday morning and convince the judges why they should not be imprisoned for contempt for “scandalizing the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court and bringing the authority of the court into disrupt”.
But ahead of the Supreme Court summons, the BNI in a statement sent to The Herald yesterday, said it arrested and interrogated the two, Alistair 41 and Ako Gunn, 39 on July 3, 2016, on the premise that their comments were considered provocative, inflammatory, and unacceptable, and had the potential of creating security challenges.
It said “In arresting the two, the BNI took into consideration the current volatile security situation in the country as we inch towards the 2016 elections. At the interrogation, the two suspects admitted making those statements and acknowledged that their remarks were regrettable and unfortunate”.
Despite public apologizes from Alistair and the management of Montie FM, over the comments, the BNI said it investigations are on-going with the two suspects under strict instructions to report themselves at their offices three times a week.
Ako Gunn, has publicly denied ever making the statement attributed to him. In two statements one by himself last week Saturday and another by his lawyer, Chris Akumey, Ako Gunn, said on the day the threats was supposedly issued, he was not on the show.
He demanded a retraction and apology from the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), whose statement first mentioned his name.
The BNI statement said that “The Bureau notes that the rights of self-expression and media freedom are enshrined in our constitution and several governmental and non-governmental institutions such as the National Media Commission (NMC), the National Communications Authority (NCA), the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) and other Civil Society Organizations, recognized by statute or otherwise”.
It observed that many, especially the electronic and print media houses, have taken advantage of the “rights of self-expression and media freedom” to abuse warning, they (BNI) won’t allow it to continue going forward.
It charged “the BNI further observes that thus far, several electronic and print media outlets have become notorious for their intemperate vituperations, personal attacks and outright insults, among others. This is a serious security concern that we will not allow to fester”.
The Security outfit, urged the public, especially discussants on both radio and television to be circumspect in their utterances so not to cause fear and panic ahead of the November 7, general elections
“As part of our constitutional mandate to safeguard Ghana’s political environment for all Ghanaians, we advice all discussants to avoid intemperate and inflammatory language and innuendoes that have the tendency to create fear and panic and that tend to cause breaches of the peace.
The statement reminded the public “we have a primary responsibility to regulate the communication sector and avoid inflammatory commentary that has the potential to threaten the peace and stability of the country.
The Bureau assures the judiciary, the good people of Ghana and all foreigners within the jurisdiction that we shall continue to work with all the other State Security Agencies to ensure their safety at all times”.
It “also advice media house owners, show hosts, panelists and other radio communicators to conduct all discussions with decorum, tolerance and respect for the constitutional rights of others” warning it will not hesitate to invoke the full punishment against any media house that goes contrary to what they are expected to do.
“This will ensure peace before, during and after the upcoming elections. We will not hesitate to invoke the full sanctions of the law against any media house which ignores this warning”, the statement concluded.
The management of Montie FM, has banned the two panelists who threatened to eliminate judges of the Supreme Court, until further notice, barely a day after the Supreme cited the owners of the station, the host, and the two panelists for contempt.
The radio station, in a statement signed by its General Manager, Mutala Mohammed, also apologized to the Chief Justice and Justices of the Supreme Court over the seemingly incendiary comments.
“The management of “Montie” FM wishes to render its sincerest apologies to Her Ladyship the Chief Justice, Justices of the Supreme Court and the Bench in general for the use of its platform by certain panelists recently to make statements that appear to threaten the safety of the Supreme Court Bench.”
“Management condemns absolutely the said statements which it considers regrettable and dissociates itself from those statements,” the statement said.
The management of Montie FM further assured Ghanaians of its resolve not to “condone any action that will in any way tend to undermine the administration of justice in our country, nor shall management condone any action that will tend to compromise the safety and security of members of the judiciary or the peace and stability of Ghana.”
The two panelists, Mr Nelson and Mr Gunn, during a current affairs programme on the radio station, threatened to “finish” the Supreme Court and High Court judges, if they made any judgment against the Electoral Commission in the ongoing court case challenging the validity of the voters’ register.
The two commentators are said to have been angered by the court’s orders for the EC, to submit all the names of person who registered with NHIS cards, prior to the 2012 elections last week.