At the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday, the court, presided over by Mr Justice Yaw Appau, granted the Attorney-General (A-G’s) request for extension of time to file the state’s response to the suits. Lawyers for Nana Bediatuo Asante, currently the Executive Secretary to the President; Mr Elikplim Agbemava and Mr Alfred Tuah-Yeboah, all initiated legal action seeking the intervention of the Supreme Court to reverse President John Dramani Mahama’s decision to remit the sentences of the Montie trio from four months to one month but the state delayed in filing a response. The applicants are arguing that upon a true and proper construction of Articles 14(1)(b), 19(12), 72(1), (3), 125(1), (3), 126(2) and 127(1) of the 1992 Constitution, the purported grant of a remission of the punishment of four months imposed on Salifu Maase also known as Mugabe, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako 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 are accordingly seeking an order declaring as null, void and of no legal effect, the purported grant of a remission by the President of the punishment of four months imposed on Salifu Maase, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, citizens of Ghana duly held by the Supreme Court of Ghana for having acted in contempt of the Supreme Court of Ghana. Any further order (s) as this Honourable Court may deem fit. Hearing The court, in granting the A-G’s request for permission to file its response, gave the state seven days to file its statement of case to respond to the issues raised by the parties. Mr Justice Appau also hinted that the suits might be consolidated because the plaintiffs were seeking similar reliefs. The decision Pronouncing on an application praying the court to dismiss the state’s request, Mr Justice Appau held that counsel for Nana Asante put an erudite legal argument but the court had decided to grant the state’s request in the interest of further enhancing Ghana’s laws. Counsel for Nana Asante, Mr Godfred Yeboa Dame, had in his opposition to the A-G's application for extension of time, argued that the AG's point that they had to consult stakeholders before filing, hence the delay, was unreasonable since in constitutional cases, that department was the main stakeholder. Lawyer for Mr Agbemava, Dr Ernest Owusu-Dapaah, had also prayed the court to award cost against the A-G because of the delay in filing a response to the case but the court held a different view and accordingly held it was a constitutional matter. Important case Justice Appau commended the lawyers for taking steps to test the law, adding that it was important the issue was pronounced on once and for all. Nana Asante is seeking a declaration that upon a true and proper interpretation of Articles 14(1)(a), (b), 19(11), (12), (21) and 126(2) of the Constitution 1992, the power in the Superior Courts to commit and/or punish for contempt of court when exercised, was not the same as a prosecution/trial for a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana. A declaration that by the combined effect of Articles 14(1)(a), (b), 19(11), (12), (21) and 126(2) of the Constitution 1992, contempt of court was not a criminal offence as constituted and known to the laws of Ghana is also being sought by the President’s Executive Secretary. Agbemava Mr Agbemava, filed his suit in August 2016 and is arguing that on a true and proper interpretation of articles 72 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution, the power of the President in consultation with the Council of State to grant pardons was discretionary and not arbitrary or capricious. He is also seeking a declaration that any decision by the President to grant or refuse a pardon was not “one to be made on the basis of the political question doctrine that can be made without reasons being given for the exercise of such power.” Counsel is praying the court to declare that in the “supreme interest of the people of Ghana and for whose welfare the President’s prerogative of mercy is exercised and on a true and proper interpretation of Article 72 and 296 of the 1992 Constitution, the President and the Council of State shall exercise the prerogative of mercy in a judicial manner that assures the people of Ghana of some certainty, consistency and fairness in the processes that led to the granting of pardons.” Sentences Maase, Ako-Gunn and Nelson were sentenced to four months’ imprisonment each by the Supreme Court on July 27, 2016 for scandalising the court. They were also fined GH¢10,000 each. 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.
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