Thursday, 28 July 2016

The Supreme Court Was Right To Jail The Montie Three And Fine Montie FM's Owners

The Supreme Court made the right decision in jailing the so-called Montie Three - Alister Nelson, Godwin Ako Gun and Salifu Maase - and fining the radio station's owners:  who will now have to pay GHc 30,000 each.

That is as it should be in a nation anxious to preserve its democracy. Hopefully, media owners in Ghana will now no longer allow their media outlets to become propaganda platforms for irresponsible political parties and self-seeking politicians.

Many discerning and patriotic Ghanaians are pleased that the judges of the Supreme Court were courageuos enough to put down a marker that those who take Ghana's democracy for granted - and therefore speak irresponsibly on the airwaves of radio and television stations - must never cross.

Anything less than the decision to jail the Montie Three would have sent the wrong signal to those who if they had their own way would enslave ordinary Ghanaians. Threatening judges is not only dangerous but also extremely foolish.

Judges play an important role in our democracy - serving as arbiters in disputes between individuals and between individuals and the Ghanaian nation-state. Above all, they stand between us and chaos, by upholding the rule of law and helping to enforce the laws of our country through the justice system.

And under our system judges hold in check those in the executive branch of government who would dearly love to tyrannise over us by wielding unfettered power in our homeland Ghana.

The law of the jungle would prevail in our country if we did not have an upright and courageous judiciary to defend our constitutional rights and  hold the other two arms of government - the executive and the legislature - in check through its interpretation of the 1992 Constitution.

That is why it is such an outrage that some of the leaders of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) are trying to make out that somehow the decision by the Supreme Court to jail the Montie Three - and fine the owners of that confounded radio station - is abhorrent. It is not.

On the contrary, the Supreme Court's decision to jail the Montie Three and fine the owners of Montie FM was in the supreme interest of our nation and will be beneficial for all Ghanaians in making for an orderly and disciplined society free of hate speech.

Those NDC leaders condemning the judgement of the Supreme Court resulting in the incarceration of the so-called Montie Three for four months  ought to be ashamed of themselves for issuing that  inane statement that they caused to be put out publicly.

And it is disgraceful that they are also giving the false impression to their members and supporters that the judges of the Supreme Court have done something untoward by jailing the Montie Three - and fining Montie FM's owners on top of that.

Threatening judges is not exercising any of one's democratic rights guaranteed by the 1992 Constitution - it is rather an abuse of freedom of expression: which is why all hate speech is rightly recognised as such by all the Western democracies, all of which now prosecute hate speech as criminal acts.

Issuing veiled threats to our nation's judges is tantamount to attacking the very foundations of Ghanaian democracy - and under no circumstances must such  threats ever be tolerated in our homeland Ghana.

No responsible citizen should regard the Supreme Court's judgement on the Montie Three as an attack on press freedom. It is not - and to say so is intolerable, monstrous and intellectually dishonest.

Given our history, some of us have no sympathy for those who make veiled threats against judges, in the Ghanaian media - especially those who are foolish enough to issue threats to judges of the Supreme Court on the very day the nation remembers the three judges murdered so callously some thirty odd years or so ago.

The Montie Three's arrogant disregard for common decency on the day in question that has now landed them in prison was unpardonable, unspeakable and abominable. And incredibly insensitve to boot.

It was the height of irresponsibility and a terrible example of egregious stupidity - and Alister Nelson, Godwin Ako Gun and Salifu Masse have no one but themselves to blame for their plight. Period

The Ghanaian media ought to examine its collective conscience. Their complacency is shocking: do they not realise that ultimately they are the guardians of Ghanaian democracy in their role as society's watchdogs?

The question is: Why are so many journalists in Ghana allowing themselves to be used by political parties and selfish politicians?

Does the Ghanaian media not realise that it is intellectually dishonest to equate veiled threats against judges with an attack on freedom of expression? They ought to condemn those politicians responsible for making such abominable and unpardonable claims.

The time has now come for all Ghanaian journalists to put Mother Ghana's well-being and the promotion of the welfare of the ordinary people of Ghana above partisan politics - and they ought to stop working so hard to advance the pariochial interests of selfish and greedy politicians in our nation.

Threatening judges is a recipe for disaster. It is a dangerous and potentially destabilising crime that no self-respecting democracy anywhere will tolerate. Freedom of expression does not include the right to threaten judges - or any other individual who resides in the Republic of Ghana, for that matter.

Ghana's Supreme Court acted in the supreme national interest in jailing the Montie Three and fining Montie FM's owners.
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