The Supreme Court has given the Attorney General (AG) and Minister for Justice Marietta Brew Appiah-Oppong, seven days to file her response to the suit challenging the constitutionality of former President John Mahama’s decision to pardon the Montie 3 contemnors.
Justice Yaw Appau, sitting as a lone judge, yesterday ordered the state prosecutor to file its statement of case in answer to the suit filed by Nana Asante Bediatuo, the current Executive Secretary to President Akufo-Addo.
That was after Ms. Grace Oppong, Principal State Attorney representing the AG, had requested the court to grant an extension of time to file a response to the three separate suits filed in September last year.
The AG reportedly failed to file her response until a few days before the expiration of the tenure of office of President Mahama.
It may be recalled that the apex court in July 2016 returned fire on Salifu Maase aka Mugabe host of “Pampaso,” a political programme on an Accra-based radio station – Montie FM – and two other panelists (known as Montie 3) who threatened the judges with death, by jailing them for four months each for contempt of court.
The five-member panel of judges presided over by Justice Sophia Akuffo, had also ordered Mugabe and the other contemnors – Godwin Ako Gunn, 39 and Alistair Tairo Nelson 41, – both National Democratic Congress (NDC) activists, to pay a GH¢10,000 fine each or in default serve another one month in jail.
Mugabe had told his panelists to open fire on the justices by attacking them with threats of death in addition to asking a certain Nash of Mataheko to “marry” Chief Justice Georgina Wood.
Even before the trio could serve a month in jail, a desk to gather signatures intended to mount pressure on President Mahama to invoke the Pardon Clause in (Article 72) of the 1992 Constitution was mounted at the premises of Radio Gold – a sister station to Montie FM.
President Mahama eventually succumbed to the pressure, some of which emanated from his own appointed ministers of state, to free the three paddies.
At the hearing of the case yesterday, the judge stated that Godfred Yeboah Dame, counsel for the plaintiff, had raised “a very important issue” in his affidavit before the court.
He said the matter was constitutional in nature, insisting that in such cases there is no “stakeholder to consult other than searching for the law yourself.”
Meanwhile, two other persons- Elekplem L. Agbameva and Isaac Atua Yeboah have filed similar suits challenging the release of the three people.
Earlier, the judge had wondered if the plaintiffs would consolidate their case, especially when they appear to be addressing the same issue.
In the case of Nana Badiatuo, he amongst other reliefs, is seeking a declaration that the former president’s action at the time was unconstitutional and also a further order to have the Montie 3 rearrested and jailed to serve their sentences in full.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson