The Member of Parliament (MP) for Assin Central, Kennedy Agyapong, who has been cited for contempt, will today appear before an Accra High Court, for abusing and threatening a judge on both TV and radio, in a manner akin to the infamous Montie 3 saga, which sent people to jail, while others got fined heftily.
But ahead of his appearance, many hold the view that, the standard operating principle applied in the Montie case by key organizations, such as the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) and the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, have drastically change per the personality involved; a case of selective justice.
So far, it is only the vice presidential candidate of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Professor Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, who has been bold enough, calling on the judiciary not to be biased in the application of the contempt of court rule in relation to the Assin Central MP.
During a meeting with Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) in Accra, the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Coast, said if the judicial body is seen to be biased in it application of the law, the notion that they are there to serve their selfish interest, will grow among Ghanaians.
"If you talk about name and shame it should be consistent. If you are going to apply punishment it should be consistent. If you say somebody has scandalized the law court and you allow the process to go through; the person has apologized and has done everything, the law took it course, the person was fined, the person was sentenced, the person was in prison. You say clemency, it is part of the judicial system; and people pretend they don't understand why there should be a petition" onetime Minister of Education said.
Even the government, is yet to make a definite statement on the conduct of its MP unlike the Montie case, where the two of the panelists; Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, were picked by the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI) on the threats for questioning and the Mahama government, had indicated it was going to crack down on incendiary comments in the media.
The two organizations which were extremely vocal in the Montie case, including calling on the BNI to arrest the panelists on Montie FM, for threatening the lives of Supreme Court judges on air, have both gone silent.
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 Montie FM; Harry Zakour, Ato Ahwoi, Edward Addo, Kwesi Kyei Atuah and Kwesi Bram Addo, were fined various sums.
But Sulemana Issifu argues that Mr Agyapong's case is graver, especially being a conduct from a lawmaker.
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."
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 appear before it 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 Stattions 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 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 AboadweRockson 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.
Ahead of the 2016 election, the panelists, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, allegedly threatened to "finish" the judges if they made any ruling against the Electoral Commission (EC) in the in the case of Abu Ramadan, Evans Nimako vs. Electoral Commission and the Attorney General, in which the plaintiffs sought to establish the credibility of the voters' register.
The Bishop's Conference in a statement Signed by the Most Rev. Joseph Osei-Bonsu, Bishop of Konongo-Mampong & President, Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, had asked the BNI to 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."
Before a statement was issued by the Catholic Bishops calling for their arrests, the BNI, had already picked up the two; Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, but the conference has said it supports government stance on the matter.
"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," a statement from the bishops said.
The conference 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.
The statement had said that "we, the members of the Ghana Catholic Bishops' Conference, have received media reports on the threat of attack on members of the Judiciary allegedly made by two panelists during a radio discussion on an Accra-based Muntie FM with a lot of worry and anxiety, and we wish to join individuals and groups which have already condemned this act. We are of the view that this alleged threat is a very serious matter that should not be taken lightly. Any attack on the Judiciary, the custodians of Law in our country, is an attack on our freedom and security as a nation".
It stated that "we think that as matter of urgency, the Bureau of National Investigations should take action in picking up the two alleged culprits, if it has not done so already, for the necessary investigations and proceedings to begin. We are hopeful that the right course of action will be taken in this and other instances".
"It is becoming increasingly worrying to us that, on a daily basis, some panelists on radio programmes and callers to these programmes continue to make unguarded comments and contributions instead of discussing issues that will benefit the development of Ghana. All these and more in this period of the run up to the 2016 elections are contributing immensely to the rising political temperature in the country. We encourage all Ghanaians to take steps to bring down the political temperature", stated the Bishops.
It concluded by saying "we continue to urge all Ghanaians to preach peace and unity for without peace and unity, our country cannot move forward in the right direction".
The Ghana Bar Association (GBA) in statement dated July 1, 2016, also issued through its president then, Benson Nutsukpui, calling on the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to as a matter of urgency, arrest Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn for threatening the lives of judges in the country.
The GBA President, 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, also 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."
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.
GBA, had earlier warned Ghanaians to desist from attacking judges on social media.The GBA said although it is 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.
The Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) had in June named Montie FM, as the most abusive radio station in the country.
According to the MFWA, Montie FM recorded the highest number (16) of indecent expressions mainly on its Pampaso programme within the months under review.
"The Ghana Bar Association has listened with shock and horror, sound recordings from a talk show programme ostensibly held on Accra-based Montie 100.1 FM radio, during which some panelists, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn made threats of harm or of death to Supreme Court and High Court judges", the statement said.
It said "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. Those words were also meant to incite hatred among the public against the judges".
"Further, the words used were in blatant contempt of the Supreme Court as they sought to scandalise the Court or otherwise lower its authority. The GBA is shocked that the owners and proprietors of the said radio station do not appear to have taken any steps to sanction the panelists in the face of such unacceptable conduct and language".
"The Ghana Bar Association condemns the threats on the lives judges in no uncertain terms. These threats are even more painful to the legal profession because they were ostensibly made on 29th June 2016, the eve of Martyrs Day, a day when the profession remembers the three High Court Judges and retired military officer who were kidnapped from their homes and murdered by agents of the state. It was therefore sickening and horrifying to hear these gentlemen referring to the murders of our Martyrs with excitement, drawing parallels to it claiming that they could also identify the homes of our judges today for the purpose of visiting them with violence, and saying things such as "when we finish them, then it will be over… they have to go. We will see them off to return to where they came from."
"Such gruesome glorification of the bloody and dastardly acts of yesteryears, and current threat to our judiciary cannot be tolerated or allowed under our present democratic dispensation. The constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech and expression, which includes freedom of the press and other media, are not absolute. Citizens are expected not to use that freedom to endanger Ghana, encourage disrespect for our nationhood, or incite hatred against members of the community".
"We hereby call on the Inspector-General of Police to cause the investigation of those matters, arrest of the gentlemen, charge them with the relevant offences and put them before court. We call 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. We call on the National Media Commission to investigate this matter and impose sanctions that are permitted by law on the radio station and its owners. We also call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to condemn these gentlemen, their words and conduct, and the radio station to show that there is no room for such conduct and that Ghana will never allow those dark days to return".
"Bar wishes finally to reiterate its position as encapsulated in the National President's speech at the 34th Remembrance service held in memory of the Martyred Judges on 30th June 2016, "… assaults to the rule of law have not and should never manifest themselves in the horrific circumstances we have just reminded ourselves of".