Montie 3 weep at Nsawam Prison

montie-convictsDetails are emerging of how the three National Democratic Congress (NDC) activists – now known as Montie 3 – convicted for contempt by the Supreme Court, were whisked away to the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons to start their four-month sentences.

The three – Salifu Maase aka Mugabe, host of “Pampaso,” a political programme on an Accra-based radio station – Montie FM – together with Godwin Ako Gunn, 39 and Alistair Tairo Nelson, 41 – apart from the jail term, were ordered to pay GHC10,000 each as fines or in default serve an additional month in jail for scandalizing the court.

Alistair was said to have sobbed as they were being conveyed to Nsawam.

The Journey

Immediately the five-member panel of judges, presided over by Justice Sophiah B. Akuffo, handed down the sentences, Mugabe, Ako Gunn and Allistair were handcuffed and put in a police bullion van.

Daily Guide learnt that the gang was first sent to the Adentan Police Station, Accra to await the warrant to Nsawam, and when the prisons authorities confirmed the arrival of the detention warrants, they were driven straight to Nsawam.

At Nsawam they were searched thoroughly as the rules demand before being admitted.

Phone Calls

While in the bullion van, the NDC convicts were said to have made ‘touching’ phone calls to their respective families, asking them to ensure that their personal effects and other belongings were safely kept.

Daily Guide’s sources said Alistair appeared to be sobbing while Ako-Gunn was in a somber mood; but Mugabe looked shocked and seemed frustrated at what had befallen him after boasting that he was not afraid of prison.

Montie Owners

The apex court had slapped Kwaku Kyei Attuah and Edward Addo – both directors and shareholders of Network Broadcasting Limited, operators of the station – Lawyer Kwaku Bram-Larbi, secretary to the board of directors and Harry Zakour, a vice Chairperson of the NDC and Zeze Media, owners of the frequency, with a GHC30,000 fine or in default be individually held liable.

Network Broadcasting Limited, parent company of Montie Fm and Radio Gold, was also fined GHC30,000, bringing the total amount of money to GHC90,000.

They have since paid the GHC90,000 according to court sources.

Death Threats

Apart from scandalizing the courts, the panel of judges was not happy with the Attorney General for refusing to press criminal charges against the convicts when it became clear that they had “crossed the red line” with death threats and criminal attack on judges, particularly Supreme Court justices.

Mugabe had told his panelists to ‘open fire’ on the justices, and they in turn did so with threats of death in addition to a claim by Allistair that he would allow a certain Nash of Mataheko to ‘marry’ Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood if a war broke out.

NDC Protests

Since their conviction, the NDC has been thrown into disarray, with a call by party foot-soldiers and gurus on President John Mahama to veto the sentences by activating the prerogative of mercy to free the convicts.

The sentencing of the three has been condemned strongly by the ruling NDC, which is putting pressure on President Mahama to invoke Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution to release them.

Lawyers of the trio had said they had petitioned the president to pardon the convicts, while a desk has been set up by the NDC at the premises of Radio Gold, which also houses Montie FM, to collect as many signatures as possible to get the president to invoke Article 72.

However, other sections of the public have said it will be suicidal for President Mahama to pardon the convicts who threatened to take the lives of the Lord Justices.

The book, opened by a group calling itself the Research and Advocacy Platform (RAP), believed to have been formed by Felix Kwakye Ofosu, has received several signatures, including those of high-profile government officials like a deputy Minister of Education, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare and an official at the presidency, Valerie Sawyerr, who was a former deputy chief of staff.

Apart from the signatures, some angry NDC members besieged the party headquarters in Accra on Thursday to put pressure on the party’s leadership to call on President Mahama to use his powers to grant pardon to the trio.

GIBA’s Caution

Meanwhile, the Ghana Independent Broadcasters Association (GIBA) has asked its members to be ‘circumspect’ when commenting on national issues.

“The Supreme Court has sent a clear signal that within the freedom of expression guaranteed under our constitution, there are lines that ought not to be crossed and there is the need to make it universally unacceptable for anyone to engage in such conduct.

“We will continue our engagements with various stakeholders such as the National Media Commission, the Judiciary, Parliament, National Communications Authority and Ghana Journalists’ Association, to ensure that the media remain free but the industry is well regulated,” GIBA President Akwasi Agyeman said in a statement.

GJA Warning

The Ghana Journalists’ Association (GJA) has cautioned the public not to interpret the sentencing of the trio to mean an attack on the media, press freedom and free speech.

GJA General Secretary Dave Etse Agbenu, after the sentencing, said “The Supreme Court did not go after the Montie three because they did something that is lawful. The charges were read to them, they contested the charges and they were finally jailed. We must be careful not to confuse that with a media attack.

“I am not sure the law courts were dealing with them because they are media practitioners. They were dealing with them because they were in contempt of court.”

Expert’s Advice

Veteran communications expert, Professor Kwame Karikari, has counseled President Mahama not to accede to pressure to release the convicts since it would send a dangerous signal and wreck his chances of retaining power in December.

Professor Karikari, who has been championing media and journalists’ rights through his Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) for decades said, “There’s no serious president in a democracy that will cede to a call like that under our circumstances. It will be politically suicidal for the president to accede to the call of his party.”

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