Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Friday, August 26, 2016
President John Mahama appears to have snubbed his lawyer who secured victory for him during the disputed presidential election in 2012 where the Supreme Court affirmed him as validly elected.
The lawyer, Tony Lithur, had cautioned President Mahama against granting remission to the three National Democratic Congress (NDC) activists - now known as Montie 3 - convicted for contempt by the Supreme Court.
Interestingly, while the lawyer was advising the president against exercising the prerogative of mercy, Mr Lithur’s wife, Nana Oye Lithur, Minister of Women, Children and Social Protection, was pushing for the release of the jailed Montie FM programme host and two panelists by signing a petition urging the president to free the NDC activists.
Nana Oye, a lawyer, was not the only woman in the Mahama administration who wanted the convicts - who threatened to slaughter judges as well as ‘rape’ the Chief Justice – released, but also Education Minister, Prof Jane Naana Jane Opoku Agyemang (former Vice Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast) and Valerie Sawyerr, a lawyer and former deputy Chief of Staff.
President Mahama shocked many people on Monday when he defied all odds and granted the remission which Mr. Lithur had warned was going to feed into the perception that the NDC is still anti-judiciary.
Immediately the three - Salifu Maase aka Mugabe who hosts Montie FM’s afternoon political programme called ‘Pampaso,’ Alistair Tairo Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn (the panelists) - were jailed, Mr. Lithur wrote that even though there was a feeling of anger among many NDC supporters, the president should not take the action to feed into the perception that the NDC does not like the judiciary.
“I wish to add that as a party there is already a stigma in our history of the murder of judges under our watch. We should avoid the deepening of any perception that we are against the judiciary in such fundamental way that translates into threat of physical harm,” the lawyer reportedly made the comment on one of the NDC social media platforms.
“The feeling of anger and disgust at the sentencing of our friends by the Supreme Court is very understandable. I agree with you that whatever the wrongs the accused persons may have committed the sentencing, while it should serve as a measure of deterrent, should also have taken into consideration the constitutional requirements of freedom of speech and press freedom.
“In addition I think the judiciary should have borne in mind the perception that may be created of high-handed and judicial tyranny by the method of redress it had chosen and the severity of the sentences, notwithstanding the real and palpable remorse publicly shown by the accused persons,” Mr Lithur remarked.
Grant Of Remission
Mr Tony Lithur continued, “However, the answer in my very humble view, is not the resort to executive intervention by the grant of pardon. Let us step back for a moment. What will be the effect or, at least, the perception of the grant of pardon?”
The lawyer said if the president granted the pardon, “it would constitute a direct undermining of the judiciary in a manner that is unprecedented in recent times.”
He said as the NDC awaits the commencement of a new legal year so that the review process could be filed, the party should be seen to stating publicly “what our views are about the sentences, choosing moderate language and still showing respect to the judiciary.
After all, when it came to the crunch in 2013, it is this same body that held the balance. Let that body not see NDC as the enemy. Let's accept its verdict while we take formal steps to take a second bite at the cherry.”