A private legal practitioner, John Ndebugri has suggested that President John Dramani Mahama’s decision to pardon the Montie trio might put pressure on successive governments to pardon persons who commit similar offences in future.
President Mahama pardoned Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, one month into their four-month jail term on Monday 'compassionate grounds'
Although he stated that the president had acted within the provisions of the constitution, Ndebugri added that the pardon had set an unnecessary precedent, given the short length of the sentence given to the three, of which they had already served a month.
“As far as the legal and constitutional aspects of the action are concerned, I will not say that he acted improperly, especially as he has consulted with the Council of State. I have my doubts whether politically it has been correct for him to take the action he has taken. He has set a precedent, two of them in fact, and the future is unpredictable in that respect,”John Ndebugri said on Eyewitness News.
“The sentences were short; four months and they've already done one month, three months will soon come and they would have been out naturally. Once he [Mahama] has done this, in future, people who commit offences of that nature and are punished in the same manner, and plead with the president, it would appear that president would be duty-bound to give some consideration to the plea.”
NDC set precedent as well
The president had been under pressure to pardon the three, after two separate petitions were presented to him, endorsed by some Ministers of State and senior members of his party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Education Minister, Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang, deputy Education Minister Sam Okudzeto Ablakwa, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Creative Arts, Elizabeth Ofosu-Agyare, Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur and Foreign Affairs Minister, Hanna Tetteh all endorsed the petition.
Other Ministers including Trade Minister, Ekow Spio Garbrah and Transport Minister, Fiifi Kwetey have visited the trio in jail.
Ndebugri believes, the public pressure put on the president by members of his own party to pardon the three had also set a precedent for similar future offences.
He suggested that ‘it is incumbent’ on the governing party to provide as much support for offenders from other parties as they did for the trio.
“The first precedent is the one set by the NDC. Tomorrow if somebody from the NPP or the CPP or any other party other than the NDC does anything similar to what these three did, it is incumbent on the NDC as a political organisation to open a book for people to go and sign so that such a person or persons are given compassionate consideration by the president, whoever that president would be at the time,” he said.
“They should have kept quiet, gone behind the scenes and got the contemnors themselves to mount the pleas for clemency. It wasn't for them as an organization to go out there as they did.”