Head of Presidential Delivery Unit, Valerie Sawyerr, yesterday joined hundreds of others to sign a petition book, opened on the premises of pro-government station, Radio Gold, and at the Freedom Centre, to secure a presidential pardon to the Montie FM trio, jailed four months by the Supreme Court, after they were found guilty of contempt.
Government officials and party activists including, Deputy Communications Minister, Felix Ofosu Kwakye, Deputy Education Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, former Deputy Minister of Interior, Kobby Acheampong, Peter Otukunor of the NDC research department, have all signed the petition book.
Others were, the Chief Executive of Officer National Identification Authority (NIA) Mr. Griffiths, Alhaji Mustapha Ahmed, NDC MP for Ayawaso East, Mustapha Abubakar, Deputy Chief Executive of the Microfinance and Small Loans Center [MASLOC], Peter Bamfo, Prince Kasim, Baba Musah, among others.
Also present were ordinary members of society, whose lives have been touched by the plight of Mugabe and his friends. Market women and artisans, were also present.
Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, were sentenced to serve four months in jail on
Wednesday, after they were found guilty of contempt charges.
This was after they threatened the lives of the judges, who were presiding over a case on the credibility of the voters’ register. The incumbent NDC leadership in particular, has described the sentencing as harsh.
Lawyers for the convicts, have also served notice they would petition the President to pardon them.
A group calling itself the Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP), which opened the petition book, is pushing the signature collection in a bid to persuade President Mahama, to activate his prerogative of mercy powers under Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution.
The petition book, has garnered signatures from notable NDC officials and government appointees, including the former Deputy Chief of Staff, Valerie Sawyerr, the Deputy Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Benjamin Dagadu.
The trio were also fined Ghc10,000 each or in default, serve an additional one-month jail term.
The four directors of Network Broadcasting Limited, owners of Montie FM; Ato Ahwoi, Edward Addo, Kwesi Kyei Atuah, and Kwesi Bram Addo, are also to pay a fine of GHc 30,000.
Mr. Harry Zakuor, owner of Zeze media, which owns Montie FM frequency, 100.1, is also to pay a separate fine of GHc 30,000.
Meanwhile, some 500 angry supporters of the NDC, who thronged the party’s headquarters yesterday, demanding the release of Montie FM’s Mugabe, and the two panelists, are asking the president to act, or risk losing their votes in the December polls.
The supporters, further called on President Mahama, to issue an executive order for the release of the three men. The reaction by the supporters, follows a condemnation by the leadership of the party.
In a statement signed by its National Chairman, Kofi Poturphy on Wednesday, the NDC said “it has learned with utter shock, disbelief and dismay, the jailing of a journalist and two Ghanaian citizens by the Supreme Court of Ghana after contempt proceedings.
In the view of the party, “This judgment sends an unfortunate impression about Ghana, its judiciary and severely dents our enviable reputation as a beacon of democracy on the African continent and beyond. The judgement also may undermine our position among countries with the freest media in the world.”
The three, were found guilty of contempt after threatening to kill judges of the Supreme Court during one of the discussions on the show.
A number of the irate party supporters, who spoke to Citi News’ Franklin Badu Jnr yesterday, echoed the sentiments of the likes of the Minster of Foreign Affairs, Hanna Tetteh, who has described the sentence as being too harsh and that the judges should have exhibited some leniency.
“In my view, the sentence is too harsh… it is as if we are putting some fear of God into the media.”
“We understand that the statement was not good at all. Look at the big people who have apologized for this. At least they should have also had sympathy,” one of the supporters said.
However, majority of the supporters toed the line of the lawyers for the trio, who have said they will petition President Mahama to invoke his prerogative power of mercy for the three, whose sentencing they consider harsh.
“We are appealing to the President, he should do something because our lives are at risk. We can’t be campaigning for a party when we can be jailed. Then this year, if no Mugabe, no vote. We want to make it clear to NDC people… we are giving him only 24 hours. If not, no vote.”
“We want the President to do something about so that they bring the people back. As for Mugabe like this, he is fighting for the nation. We are pleading.”
“He should do something about this or we would not fight for him anymore. If he wants to be in power in 2016, he should release Mugabe because we get our information from Mugabe.”
A former presidential hopeful and member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP), Dr. Arthur Kennedy, has said he was disturbed at the way the Supreme Court, handled the infamous Montie 3 saga.
In a statement expressing his opinion on the sentence handed the trio in the matter of contempt against the court, Dr. Kennedy said, ”I am on record as against the insults, threats and violence in our politics. I have called for a cleaning of our airways. I was one of the students who protested the 1982 murders and got dismissed for that. However, I am disturbed by how this incident was handled.”
According to him, per the ruling he is “… persuaded that the Supreme Court’s handling of this case, has brought it more disrepute than what was said on MONTIE fm.”
Dr. Arthur Kennedy in his statement said, ”Justice Sophia Akufo was right that, “There is an element of criminality in their utterances which the Attorney – General should have noticed and acted upon.”
If this is the case, can the Supreme Court, now assume the prosecutorial powers of the Attorney General?” He also raised concerns why the directors of the station could be held liable to what their employees or panelists say.