Former Executive Director of the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), Professor Kwame Karikari, has cautioned President John Mahama to resist the temptation to bow to calls to release the convicted presenter and two panelists of an Accra-based Montie FM.
He says any attempt by the President to free the trio will hamper his chances in the upcoming December election.
“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,” he said.
Professor Karikari disclosed this during an interaction with the media in Accra, Thursday.
The Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday handed four months' jail terms to a presenter, Salifu Maase popularly known as Mugabe, and two presenters, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn of Montie FM for contempt of court.
The two panelists with the support of Mr Maase threatened to murder justices of the apex court if their ruling in a case in which a former National Youth Organiser of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Abu Ramadan and Evans Nimako were challenging the credibility of the voters’ register did not favour the Electoral Commission.
They said if the ruling plunged the country into chaos they would target the Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, and Justice Nasiru Sulemana Gbedegbe and make sure they die before everyone else does.
These comments were made on the eve of the 34th Anniversary of the muder of three High Court judges by some operatives of the Provisional National Defense Council (PNDC).
The two panellists and the host were summoned by the superior court and charged with contempt. On Wednesday, the court, presided over by Justice Sophia Akuffo handed four months' custodial sentences to each of the three men and a fine of GH₵10,000 each, failure of which would attract another month in jail. One of the lawyers for the convicted men, Godwin Tamakloe Edudzi, has confirmed the money has been paid.
The owners of the radio station were also fined GH₵30,000 and were ordered to submit for scrutiny their programmes and policy guidelines for the radio station.
Supporters of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) are angry with the development and have called on President Mahama to activate his powers in Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution and pardon the trio.
Article 72 (1)(a-d) of the Constitution says the President of the Republic, may, acting in consultation with the Council of State, decide to exercise the Prerogative of Mercy or just grant amnesty to convicted people.
This constitutional provision is one of the special powers President Mahama can activate to grant people convicted of various crimes pardon on humanitarian grounds or for reconciliatory purposes.
Books of solidarity have been opened at the front desks of Accra-based Radio Gold [a sister radio station] at Lartebiokorshie and Freedom Center at Kwame Nkrumah Circle to gather signatories to pressurise President Mahama to use his powers.
Even though some NDC lawyers have expressed their optimism the President may do something about the custodial sentences of the trio, Professor Karikari believes President Mahama will dime his political fortunes if he does that.
“If he does that, [then] he will be giving the orders to all the radio stations who will raise mayhem in this country [to go ahead and] bastardize the courts, incite violence, threaten people’s lives and even go ahead and get people to carry out the threats,” he said.
He has urged President Mahama to put the interest of the nation ahead of any decision he takes in the coming days.