The Supreme Court has dismissed the suits challenging a decision by former President John Dramani Mahama to give presidential pardon the three Montie FM contemnors who were convicted for threatening to kill judges in 2016.
In a majority judgment, five justices of the court which include Justices Alfred Benin, Sophia Adinyira, Yaw Appau, Gabriel Pawmang and Baffoe-Bonnie, held that the president’s power to remit a conviction covers that of a contempt of court.
They said the decision of President Mahama to grant pardon to the three cannot be questioned as it followed due process.
Two other judges on the panel justice Enin Yeboah and Jones Dotse held a contrary view which the court said it will make available in its full judgment.
In 2016, the applicants initiated separate legal actions praying the Supreme Court to reverse former President Mahama’s decision to remit the sentences of Salifu Maase, aka Mugabe; Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn from four months to one month.
The Supreme Court consolidated the three suits in 2017, and ordered the three parties to file a memorandum of issues for the court’s consideration.
The applicants argued that upon a true and proper construction of articles 14 (1)(b), 19 (12), 72 (1) and (3), 125 (1) and (3), 126 (2) and 127 (1) of the 1992 Constitution, the purported grant of a remission of the punishment of four months imposed on Mugabe, Nelson and Gunn, was in excess of the powers conferred on the President of Ghana by Article 72 (1) of the Constitution 1992, an unjustified interference with the independence of the Judiciary and thus an affront to the Constitution of Ghana.
They accordingly, sought an order declaring as null, void and of no legal effect, the purported grant of a remission by the former President of the punishment of four months imposed on the three persons, duly held by the Supreme Court, for having acted in contempt of the Supreme Court.
The Montie three contemnors were imprisoned in July 2016 for criminal contempt of court after they threatened the lives of Supreme Court Justices during a live radio programme.
After their four months incarceration, two petitions were started and signed by top National Democratic Congress (NDC) government officials and thousands of sympathizers in an attempt to compel then President John Mahama to exercise his prerogative of mercy powers per Article 72 of the constitution.
Former President Mahama eventually exercised this power on Monday, August 22, 2016following consultations with the Council of State, after the convicts spent only one month in jail.
Many criticized the President for satisfying the interest of his party while disrespecting the judiciary.
Gov’t sued over the petition to free Montie 3
The decision was challenged at the Supreme Court by Ghanaian citizen, Elikplim L. Agbemava, who was seeking an interlocutory injunction to restrain the President from exercising his prerogative of mercy under Article 72 of the constitution to free the Montie three contemnors.