A radio presenter and two panellists, popularly referred to as the ‘Montie trio’ who are currently languishing in the Nsawam Medium Security Prison for contempt of the Supreme Court, have presented a joint petition to President John Dramani Mahama for mercy.
The petition, which was presented on behalf of the convicts by their lawyers at the Flagstaff House yesterday, appealed to the President to invoke his prerogative of mercy under Article 72 of the Constitution to grant them relief, as they had learnt their lessons and would be guided by “this bitter and painful experience”.
Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, the host of the “Pampaso” discussion programme on Montie FM; Godwin Ako Gunn and Alistair Tairo Nelson, both panellists, were sentenced to four months in prison and a fine of GHc10,000 each on July 27, this year, for scandalising the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court and bringing the authority of the court into disrepute.
The Chief of Staff, Mr Julius Debrah, received the petition on behalf of the President from Nana Adjei Ampofo, one of the lawyers, who prayed that the President would give the petition a favourable response.
The petition, a copy of which was sighted by the Daily Graphic, has the petitioners pleading that they have been completely devastated by the severity and harshness of the custodial sentences and the fines.
“We are law-abiding citizens of this dear country of ours who were contributing to topical issues of the day but, unfortunately, got carried away,” it said, adding that they were also first offenders.
“Your Excellency Mr President, we pray for mercy from you as the father of the nation.
“In petitioning Your Excellency the President of the Republic of Ghana to exercise your prerogative of mercy, we humbly ask you also to please take into consideration the fact that we have young families who have been embarrassed and devastated by our unfortunate conduct and our subsequent incarceration,” the petition pleaded.
It admitted that the statements the three made against the judges were unguarded but said the sentences were harsh and excessive.
“On 24th and 29th of June 2016, during the programme, we made certain statements about the Honourable Chief Justice and some Justices of the Supreme Court which, after reflection, were most unfortunate and regrettable.
“We concede that the statements should not have been made at all, and, indeed, we never intended to harm anybody,” it said.
It said on realising that they should not have made the statements, the three, in subsequent broadcasts, expressed remorse and rendered unqualified apologies for their statements.
It stated that as punishment, the owners of the radio station suspended Mr Maase as host of the programme and banned the two panellists from appearing on the programme.
“We, the petitioners, admitted our guilt and apologised for our conduct and pleaded for mercy and forgiveness. We also pleaded for leniency. The court, however, convicted us and, despite our plea for leniency and obvious show of remorse, sentenced each of us to four months’ imprisonment, together with a fine of GHc10,000 each or in default a further term of one month.
“We have since paid the fines and are currently serving our prison terms at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison,” the petition said.
No intention to harm
It reiterated the fact that the three never intended to harm anybody.
Mr Maase, for instance, said in the petition that he was a practising journalist who was unfortunately carried away while hosting the programme.
For the convicted panellists, the petition said they made the unfortunate statements during a discussion on the topical issue of electoral processes and related matters and unreservedly apologised for their conduct before the court and continued to do so.
“We expressed, and continue to express, remorse for our unguarded statements and humbly reiterate that in making those statements, we never intended to harm any person,” it said.