A former president of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Mr Sam Okudzeto, has said his critics in the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) misunderstood his comment that President John Mahama would be planning his own funeral if he succumbed to pressure to grant presidential pardon to the three Montie FM contemnors – Godwin Ako Gunn, Alistair Nelson, and Salifu Maase, aka Mugabe.
He said the improper interpretation of his comment has led many of the party’s supporters and national executives to be talking “from their heads”.
“They have not read the constitution; I have been involved in the constitutional review process. I am a constitutional expert; many of them just talk from their head. …Which portion of the constitution am I against? Constitution talks about justice, law is about justice. …In Ghana, when you punish wrongdoing, then you are not doing justice. I am actually puzzled as to how very well-educated people sometimes can descend to that level,” he stated.
Mr Okudzeto had told Class News: “They [contemnors] threatened judges, which is a criminal offence, the [Attorney General] refused to prosecute the people and, now, should he [Mr Mahama] free them, that is going to be his own funeral. …What lesson will he be telling the people of Ghana? That if people commit a criminal offence, because they are his party people, therefore, he should go and pardon them? Is that a proper way to administer the pardon? That is my view. If he wants to do it, he should go ahead and do it, but they forget we are all in Ghana; it is not just me.”
Mr Okudzeto emphasised that: “People have threatened to kill judges, which is a criminal offence, which is there in the criminal code and the Attorney General has not prosecuted them and he [President Mahama] wants to go and pardon? He should go ahead and pardon them because his party people want it, his party chairman said it, but as for me, I will not be a party to it.”
But the General Secretary of the NDC, Mr Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, responding to Mr Okudzeto’s comment in a statement, said: “The NDC considers this statement from Mr Okudzeto not only as a threat to President Mahama’s life but also a danger to the very foundation of the country’s constitution, the people, and democracy, especially when such baseless and dangerous pronouncement is coming from a supposed seasoned and experienced legal practitioner of no mean repute.
“While condemning this unfortunate statement in no uncertain terms, the NDC also calls on the police and the security agencies to invite Mr Okudzeto to answer for such reckless and irresponsible statement since it is pregnant with unimaginable provocation to lawlessness and chaos.”
But clarifying his statement and also responding to the NDC’s reaction in an interview with Class News, Mr Okudzeto said the party’s interpretation of his remarks showed it lacked proficiency in the English language. “… This morning, I was surprised I saw on Metro TV, somebody was there saying I was threatening the president, which means that even English language, the simple language that we all speak, people don’t even know the language. To say that if somebody says when you do that it’s your own funeral, it means that you yourself you bear the consequences of it, that is simple English. …If you don’t know the language, ask somebody else, I’m sure they will explain it to you,” the renowned lawyer said.
“… They are all running to sign a petition, I suppose they want to bring pressure on the president to go and act, well, that’s their own business. So far as I am concerned, what the court has done, nobody can flout the [orders of the] court to say that it does not have the power to convict for contempt because that is enshrined in the constitution and it was put there in order to protect the judges, to protect the institution. If none of us is prepared to respect the highest court of the land or just the courts in the administration of justice, it means that all of us will take the law into our own hands. …I think law is meant to bring order and decorum to society. All of us should inculcate that into our heads and begin to appreciate and respect laws… and we also say that the law is not a respecter of persons, it does not matter who you are…” he said.