Directors of Accra-based pro-government private radio station Montie FM, on Monday July 18 told the Supreme Court they were “ashamed” of the death threats issued against justices of the court by two radio pundits and a political talk show host on their airwaves.
The Directors, who have been summoned by the court to answer for contempt charges along with pundits Godwin Ako Gunn and Alistair Nelson, as well as programme host Salifu Maase, aka ‘Mugabe’, pleaded with the court not to have the audiotapes, which contained the threats played in open court, since they were so ashamed of the words used and did not want them repeated.
However, the court, upon the insistence of presiding judge Justice Sophia Akuffo, had the tapes played despite pleas from counsel for the contemnors George Loh, Nana Ato Dadzie and Martin Ampofo Agyei for them not to be played.
Mr Nelson and Mr Gunn told the court they were liable to the offence and expressed regret. Even though Mugabe also said he was liable to the offence, he had an explanation for his conduct.
Directors of the station pleaded for mercy for the contemnors saying they had been punished and made to apologise.
The two radio pundits threatened to kill justices of the court when they spoke on a political programme called ‘Pampaso’ a few weeks ago as they discussed a case between the PNC’s Abu Ramadan and the Electoral Commission regarding the credibility and sanctity of the register of voters as far as the existence on the roll, of people who registered with their National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards, was concerned.
The two discussants warned the judges to deliver what in their view, would be a favourable judgment on the matter, or risk suffering the same fate (extrajudicial execution) meted out to three of their forebears in 1982 during the PNDC junta of Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings.
The Supreme Court had earlier ruled that the NHIS card was an invalid document as far as proving one’s nationality was concerned. That case was instanced by Mr Ramadan and one Evans Nimako about two years ago.
The two plaintiffs subsequently followed up to the same court to pray the justices to have the election management body delete from the poll roll, all names of those who used the NHIS cards to register ahead of the 2012 general elections.
The court on May 5 delivered a judgment to that effect but lack of clarity on judgment compelled Mr Ramadan and Mr Nimako to return to the same court for clarification. The court then gave an emphatic order to the EC to delete the names after requesting that the election management body submit the list of ‘NHIS voters’.
The EC presented a list of 56,000 names. Mr Ramadan, his lawyers, the opposition NPP and former First Lady Nana Konadu Agyeman-Rawlings challenged the authenticity of the list filed by the EC. Despite the controversy over the authenticity of the list, the 56,000 ‘NHIS voters’ were deleted by the EC and the affected persons given the opportunity to re-register with the appropriate documents in a 21-day exercise which started on Monday July 18. That registration is happening alongside the exhibition by the EC, of the register of voters to enable the general public crosscheck their names and details on the roll.
Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood and Justice Gbadegbe, who were specifically named by the contemnors on the political radio programme, recused themselves at the last hearing.