Public interest in the contempt charges slapped on maverick Assin Central MP, Kennedy Agyapong for scandalizing and “threatening the High Court judge and, by extension, in reaction to a ruling on an ongoing land case has heightened.”
The case will be heard on Monday, September 14 amidst widespread rumours of behind the scenes lobbying to set free the MP, who has become notorious for using his Net 2 TV and Oman FM platforms to launch personal attacks and threats on personalities.
The MP, speaking on the Seat Show of Net 2 TV on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, said ….. “You are a stupid judge; I will face you. You are a stupid judge. 18 years that I’ve had the land nobody served me and then I get called and told that an injunction has been placed on it. You are a stupid judge,”
He apologized after the Court issued contempt summons against him. Since then pressure is mounting on the Chief Justice not to interfere and allow the law to take its own course based on past precedent.
The unfolding events are reminiscent of the 2016 electioneering and how the public reacted to the Montie Trio case involving political talk show host, Mugabe Salifu Maase and two panelists, Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn over threatening comments on an Accra-based radio station, Montie FM.
The accused, sentenced by the Supreme Court on July 27, 2016, were found guilty for scandalizing the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court and bringing it into disrepute by the court presided over by the immediate past Chief Justice, Justice Sophia Akuffo.
Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, who were panelists on ‘Pampaso’, a political programme on Montie FM in Accra on June 29, warned judges of Ghana’s highest court to be wary of their conduct in the case involving the Electoral Commission and Mr Abu Ramadan if they did not want to suffer the fate of the three members of the bench who were shot to death and burnt on June 30, 1982 in the era of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).
Barely a week after the offence, on July 6, 2016, management of Montie FM apologized to the Chief Justice and Judges in Ghana.
The statement said: “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.
It also condemned absolutely the said statements which it considers regrettable and dissociated itself from those statements.
Signed by General Manager, Mutala Mohammed, the statement said as a sign of management’s disapproval of the conduct of the panelists, it had decided to ban the said panelists from appearing on all our programmes until further notice.
Management also assured the Court it had initiated the necessary disciplinary proceedings against the host and the producer of the programme.
On July 22, lawyer for three accused, Godwin Edudzi Tamakloe publicly retracted the offensive statements made by his clients against the Justices. He expressed sincere apologies especially to Justice Sule Gbadegbe and Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood who were specifically mentioned in the comments.
The contemnors pleaded guilty and the owners of the station through their counsel pleaded with the Court to temper justice with mercy. Alistair Nelson told the Court he suffered a condition, “kpokpo gbligbli” which forced him to make the contemptuous comments.
‘Mugabe’ had also pleaded for forgiveness because he had been a journalist of good repute for 15 years. Their lawyers pleaded with the court that, they were first time offenders and that the court should have mercy on them.
Notwithstanding, the Supreme Court chaired by Sophia Akufo, went ahead to convict them. Justice Sophia Akufo, also did not spare the owners of the FM station.
Mugabe Maase, radio show host; Ako-Gunn and Nelson, two panelists, were each sentenced to 90 days imprisonment by the Supreme Court on July 27, 2016 for scandalizing the court. They were also to pay GHC 10, 000 or serve an additional month in default.
Directors of Network Broadcasting Company, operators of Montie FM—Edward Addo, Ato Ahwoi and Kwesi Kyei Atuah—were also not spared in the judgment. They were fined GHC30,000 to be paid within 24 hours while the owner of the frequency, Harry Zakour, had to cough GHC30,000.00.
A section of the public is worried about perceived selective justice citing the long silence by the Ghana Bar Association, (GBA) the Catholic Bishops Conference, which were vociferous demanded stiffer punishment of the Montie Trio in 2016.
One critic on his facebook wall wrote;……”The GBA is quiet, the Judges and Magistrate Association is quiet the judiciary is quiet, everyone is quiet. If the Montie Trio went to jail for making similar statements, then Kennedy must also go to jail. The law must apply to all equally and fairly. Kennedy is not above the law.”
By: Kwaku Armstrong