SC Erred in citing two Muntie fm commentators for contempt – Prof Kwaku Asare

A United States of America-based Ghanaian law professor, has questioned the contempt charges brought against two political commentators by the Supreme Court.

The two Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, whose threats on Accra based Montie FM have received considerable backlash; are billed to appear before the Apex court after being cited for contempt.

The duo allegedly threatened to “violently silence” the Supreme Court judges if they made any judgment against the Electoral Commission in the just ended court case challenging the validity of the voters’ register occasioning the action by the Supreme Court.

But according to Professor Kwaku Asare on the Ultimate Breakfast Show hosted by Lantam Papanko; ‘the action didn’t have to come from the panel of five judges who were threatened by the contemnors as far as the comments deemed contemptuous were made outside the Supreme Court’.

He explained, “There are two types of contempt. One that is being committed at the time that the court is actually sitting and contempt that is committed outside the court like these Montie people.

“When the contempt is being committed at the time that the court is sitting; then that particular court has the authority to restore order to proceedings by immediately citing the contemnors with contempt and putting them in prison if the court believes that it is the proper thing to do.”

“On the other hand, if the contempt is occurring outside the courts like it is here; then it falls properly within the criminal justice system where the Attorney General or the director of public prosecutions is the one who is suppose to initiate the contempt proceedings”

He insisted that if the case was left to continue in the current process; it will amount to the judges being their own prosecutors; complainants, jury and judges in their own case.

Professor Kwaku Asare cited the case of the Quality Grain case in which the attorney general in the year 2002 brought contempt charges against the former president Jerry John Rawlings for making contemptuous comments against the Supreme Court panel presided over by Judge Justice Kwame Afreh.

“When the attorney general brought the tape to the quality grain trial, Justice Affreh who was then presiding over the trial, listened to the tape and referred it back to the Attorney General. He told the attorney general it was your job to bring contempt proceedings against president Rawlins at a different court other than my court because I cannot be the prosecutor; the judge; the jury and the complainant in the same case.”

He is therefore challenging the Attorney General and the director of state prosecution in whose purview it lies, to proceed to court to indict the two on two counts of contempt and second degree felony for threatening to take the lives of the judges.

He insisted that even though the two should be “prosecuted aggressively,” the right procedure laid down in the constitution has to be duly followed in order that the process does not “corrupt the end result.”

By: Ghana/ Korshie Heathcote – Fumador