After several weeks and perhaps months of enjoying virtual holidays on the airwaves, the axe of the Supreme Court Justices finally and eventually fell on the Montie trio. Just like any other matter in Ghana, opinions are divided over this issue as well. While others have welcomed the judgment as enough deterrent for future “loose talkers”, others are mulling over it with the argument that it has the potential to shut many people up: a position I vehemently and passionately disagree with.
Under the guidance of “kpokpogbligbli”, the wagging tongues of the Montie FM squad finally landed on Supreme Court judges. The lose talking Salifu Maase alias Mugabe (host of Pampaso program) and his panelist shred the supreme court judges into pieces and threatened to kill them since they know where the judges live.
Their comments earned them a special invitation to show course why they should not be jailed for contempt of the apex court of the land. Just like Sir John, Stephen Atubiga and all the others who had previously appeared before the court on similar charges, they went there with their hands behind their back to beg. But the court will have none of it.
Ghana is nation of talkers. A nation where majority of our citizens most likely analyze almost every major issue from a “political lens”. Interestingly, almost everyone in Ghana is either a football expert or a lawyer, so depending on the issue that surfaces at a point, you’re sure to get expert opinion from Ghanaians.
As a “pocket lawyer” I hold the view that the judgment handed the “Montie Squad” was very lenient
IS THEIR INCARCERATION AN ATTACK ON PRESS FREEDOM?
Since the incarceration of the trio, several statements have been issued by various agencies and individuals. While some condemned the ruling, others like experienced Lawyer, Sam Okudzeto have no doubt justice has been well served. I share the same view as Sam Okudzeto. Their incarceration is NOT and CANNOT be an attack on press freedom
First and foremost, it’s important that a clear distinction be made between an act of “foolishness” and press freedom. You see, everyone have the right to free speech and expression of their opinion on any matter of their choice. Press freedom allows the trio to discuss and even criticize decisions emanating from the Supreme Court without attacking and threatening the lives of the Justices. In this case however, they went on public radio to attack the personality of the judges and even threaten to kill them. To issue a threat on anyone’s life is unacceptable and must come with the stiffest punishment possible. It is therefore lame to argue that their incarceration is an attack on press freedom. If these guys were jailed for just offering their opinion on the case, then we will have a cause to accuse the judiciary of attacking press freedom. This is clearly not the case so in my opinion the argument that the jailing was an attack on the press is neither here nor there.
WHY I THINK THEIR PUNISHMENT WAS LENIENT
There is an ongoing madness within the Ghanaian media especially on the airwaves. This madness grows every single day and if nothing drastic is done, it could sink the country. During the genocide in Rwanda, it was the same media which served as a medium of circulating information that was used to encourage people to eliminate one group of citizens. That said, I feel the three gentlemen were lucky to have received a four month jail term. I must state that, considering the current state of our prisons and the fact that these guys have families, I feel saddened they will spent the next four months in a prison. However, its high time people start taking responsibility for comments they make. I was expecting nothing less than seven months imprisonment with a fine as well. Seven months? Yes, I feel a year in prison or perhaps seven months would have been enough to deter people who would want to hide behind press freedom and say ‘stupid’ things.
WHAT ABOUT KENNEDY AGYAPONG COMMENTS?
People have attempted to compare the comments made by the Montie trio to the ones made previously by Kennedy Agyapong. Kennedy Agyapong was alleged to have encouraged Ashantis to kill Gas, Ewes and Fantis.
Kennedy Agyapong is someone who has failed to live up to his title as an “Honorable member of Ghana’s Parliament”. While I admire him for his business acumen, most of his “misguided” and “reckless” comments have often bought the name of Parliament into disrepute. That notwithstanding, a clear distinction ought to be made. Kennedy Agyapong’s comment had no linkage with the Supreme Court. For those who are blaming the Supreme Court for not doing something about Kennedy Agyapong, I will advise you to channel your anger towards the inept and inefficient Attorney Generals department for not handling the issue very well.
THE NDC’S DISAPPOINTMENT AND THE NPP’S JOY
Since the verdict by the court, notable members of the NPP have hailed it as a true mark of justice. There is no denying the fact that the Montie Squad are sympathizers of the NDC. No doubt these NPP members are over joyed. The NDC on the other hand issued a press release condemning the ruling. In their opinion, the ruling dints the hard won democratic reputation of our nation.
Both the NPP and the NDC are guilty of using abusive language on radio. Perhaps instead of rejoicing, the NPP should pay more attention to the proverb which says “when your friend’s beard catches fire, you must fetch water and put it beside yours”
The media is a double edged sword which can be used to build and destroy. People who are privileged to use it must do so with caution bearing in mind that thousands of people are closely following whatever information they put across- some of whom will swallow it hook-line and sinker.
In the words of Richard Dela Sky of Citi FM, “Those who are quick to bravely exercise free speech must be bold enough to live with the consequences of its irresponsible use and abuse!”