GBA and Catholic Bishops caught in double standard over Kennedy Agyapong's contempt case

Kennedy Agyapong, faces an Accra High Court today over a case of contempt Kennedy Agyapong, faces an Accra High Court today over a case of contempt

In few hours, Kennedy Agyapong, would be making appearance before the Accra High Court over a case of contempt, following insults and threats he heaped on a judge, who was sitting on a land dispute in which the Assin Central Member of Parliament (MP) has interest in.

But the abuse of the judge by the lawmaker known for his vitriolic attacks on journalists, security chiefs, policemen, presidents, ex-Presidents among others, is not so much the news, it is the shocking silence of bodies such as; the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) which were extremely vocal in the high profile Montie 3 contempt case in 2016.

The father of over 20 children, more than three times, called the judge "stupid" and ended up saying "You are an animal of a judge" but both the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference and the Ghana Bar Association for 12 days, are yet to condemn him and call for his punishment as they did in the Montie 3 case.

In that case of Montie 3, the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, ahead of their appearance in court to answer for charge of contempt, had called on the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to arrest the two radio panelists, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn for threatening the lives of Supreme Court judges on air.

The GBA also followed up, ahead of their appearance in court and charged the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to as a matter of urgency, arrest the panelists not even their persistent apologies saved them. They were sentenced to three months imprisonment.

The panelists, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, had threatened to "finish" the judges if they made any ruling against the Electoral Commission (EC) in the ongoing case to establish the credibility of the voters' register, and the Bishop's Conference believed the BNI should urgently "take action in picking up the two alleged culprits, if it has not done so already, for the necessary investigations and proceedings to begin.

"On its part, the GBA in a 1st July 2016 statement signed by its President, Benson Nutsukpui, said they are shocked by the threats since "the language used by the said panelists was particularly clear and graphic, and showed a clear intent to put the fear of harm or death in our judges."

GBA argued that "those words were also meant to incite hatred among the public against the judges."

"We hereby call on the Inspector General of Police to cause the investigations of those matters, arrest of the gentlemen, charge them with the relevant offences and put them before court," the GBA president demanded.

Interestingly, ahead of the demands, the BNI had already picked up the two for questioning and the Mahama government, had given indications it was cracking down on incendiary comments in the media.

The conference had said it supports government stance on the matter.

The Bishops had acknowledged in their statement signed by Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Bishop of Konongo-Mampong & President, Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, saying "We are gratified by the assurances of government that it will take steps to ensure that all citizens, including members of the Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary will enjoy personal and institutional protection."

The conference had further warned that comments of this nature were only "contributing immensely to the rising political temperature in the country" and urged the media houses to be circumspect in the selection of persons that represent them.

"We pray that in the days leading to the elections later this year, newspaper editors and producers of FM radio programmes will be circumspect in their selection of those who are invited to discuss issues on their various radio programmes, while all Ghanaians, especially those who seek political office in our land should learn to speak words which bring harmony and peace," the statement said.

GBA further called on the Attorney General to ensure that these gentlemen are prosecuted with all the force that she can muster and do her utmost to secure convictions of them.

It also called on the National Media Commission to investigate the matter and sanction Montie FM and its owners.

One of the panelists reportedly said: I know where the judges live in Accra, I can show you. I know their quarters, the Supreme Court judges. I also know the high court judges. Yes, I'm telling you, god has a way to show… if they like, they should bring it on. It will start in their residences, I'm telling you, in their neighbourhoods. When we finish them, then it will be over. Then we will come and rule our nation because they don't wish the nation well. So they have to go. We will see them off to return to where they came from. So that those of us who wish the nation well will take control of the nation and rule it. So they should sit there, and feel that they are Supreme Court judges so…look, the EC is insulated, article 45. Go and check. You cannot do what you are doing there. You Supreme Court judges sitting there, what do you do for Ghana? Look at your judges accepting bribes, goats and GH¢100 and others. Are you not ashamed? Senior judges on the bench, by this time all of you should have resigned because of what your juniors were doing. Are you not ashamed?

GBA, had earlier warned Ghanaians to desist from attacking judges on social media.

The GBA, said although it was not against the use of that medium in objectively criticizing the work of judges, abusing judges on the bench with the aim of inciting public disaffection for them is unacceptable.

"Today, social media has become a popular platform to mount intense attacks on our judges. While citizens have the right to take on judgments of the courts, it is absolutely unacceptable for those criticisms to be rendered in sensational and purely abusive manner with the primary aim of inciting public disaffection for our judges and undermine the integrity of the judicial system," President of the GBA said four years ago.

Ken Agyapong's attack on the judiciary, according to a High Court Judge, Sulemana Issifu, is worse than the Montie 3 which sent Salifu Maase alias Mugabe, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn to jail, while the owners of the radio station; Harry Zakour, Ato Ahwoi, Edward Addo, Kwesi Kyei Atuah and Kwesi Bram Addo, were fined various sums.

Sulemana Issifu, argues that Mr Agyapong's case is graver, especially being a conduct from a lawmaker.

Indeed, the case has left many asking, whether Ken Agyapong, who is standing for election on the ticket of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), could be committed to prison if found guilty or merely made to pay a fine and walk away, because of his status as an MP?

Others have also tried to know whether President Akufo-Addo, could grant a Presidential pardon if his party man, friend and financier is convicted just like President John Dramani Mahama did for the Montie 3 in 2016, two months into their three months jail term, but got lashed by ordinary Ghanaians, civil society organizations, among others, for disrespecting the judiciary.

President Mahama, had at the time bowed to severe pressure from supporters of the then ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) who signed petitions and held vigils at Radio Gold, where Montie FM was located.

However, many agree that setting Ken Agyapong free unpunished, will not bode well for the image of the judiciary, particularly when he makes laws for the ordinary citizens to respect.

Kennedy Agyapong, had on the Seat Show of Net 2 TV on Wednesday, September 2, 2020, five times described the High Court Judge as "stupid" for granting an injunction against him without conducting any due diligence.

The MP, said he has a vendetta against such judges in the country who abuse their power in their line of duty.

Agyapong's apparent anger, insults and threats against such judges stems from what he held to be baseless issuance of injunctions, especially when it comes to land disputes adjudications.

"Listen to the reason why I am angry. The lawyer wrote the thing on August 5, and the judge scheduled appearance on August 13. I didn't get anything from them; then on September 1, you granted an injunction on the property. You are a stupid judge; I will face you. You are a stupid judge. 18 years that I've had the land nobody served me and then I get called and told that an injunction has been placed on it. You are a stupid judge," he declared.

He added, "You think I fear someone? I am not like Anas who will take a bribe from you. I will deal with you…nobody served me anything. I didn't know what was going on. Then all of a sudden you say I should not go to the land. You are an animal of a judge."

But the High Court Judge, Sulemana Issifu, who has since petitioned the Chief Justice over the matter, said, "Your Lordship, that, Mr Agyapong's conduct is graver in scope and impact than the infamous 'Montie 3'. This is because of the influence he wields and the coverage of the channel on which he made these dangerous comments compared to the 'Montie 3' in these respects."

The Herald has sighted an "Order to appear in court" issued by another High Court judge, Justice Amos Wuntah J, of the High Court, Land Division in Accra dated 9th September 2020 and signed by one Issahaku Musah, a registrar asking Kennedy Agyapong, will appear before court on Monday 14th September 2020 at 10:00, to show cause why he should not be severely punished for Contempt, if the matter are proven against him to the satisfaction of the court".

The case in question is between Susan Bando of No. 64 Patrice Lumumba Road Airport Residential Area, Accra Christopher Akuetteh Kotei as the plaintiffs against Ibrahim Jajah, Nana Yaw Duodu alias Sledge, Kennedy Ohene Agyapong and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), the defendants.

The order read; whereas the attention of the High Court (Land Court 12) has been drawn to a Television and Radio programme allegedly aired on NET 2 TV and OMAN FM Stations on 2nd September 2020at or around 9:00 pm in which KENNEDY OHENE AGYAPONG, 3rd Defendant herein, allegedly scandalized and threatened this Court in this case, pending before this Court in a manner which is proven against him amount to Contempt of Court".

"I HEREBYSUMMON the said KENNEY OHENE AGYAPONG per a Warrant issued under my Hand and Seal to appear before the High Court (Land Court 12) on Monday,14th September 2020 at 10:00 to show cause why he should not be severely punished for Contempt, if the matter are proven against him to the satisfaction of the court".

Since the order was issued,the Assin Central MP, has adopted the style of the Montie 3, by rendering an unqualified apology to the Chief Justice, Judges, and Magistrates Association of Ghana, after referring to judges as 'foolish'.

In a letter dated September 8, 2020, sighted by The Herald, the NPP MP, apologized to Judges in Ghana, adding that he "believes in our judicial system and can never denigrate its integrity."

Parts of his statement read, "…upon sober reflection, "I have come to the realization that without prejudice to the substantive case, my expression about the court's opinion was harsh thus I find it necessary to render an unqualified apology without reservation whatsoever to the Honourable Chief Justice, Judges and Magistrates and any individual who have been offended by my uncomplimentary comments."

"Thus prior to the publication of this letter, I have appeared on the same platform on 7th day of September 2020 and rendered same apology to the Hon. Chief Justice, Judges, and Magistrates."

"I must conclude that I strongly believe in our judicial system and can never denigrate its integrity. Indeed I was set free by the court when I was charged with treason in 2012."

The letter addressed to Chief Justice and copied one Justice Frank Aboadwe Rockson, said in full, "I am writing this apology letter in my capacity as Ghanaian and Member of Parliament for the Assin Central Constituency of the Central Region of the Republic of Ghana.

Source: The Herald