The Supreme Court of Ghana has sentenced the presenter of a political programme on Accra-based Montie FM, together with two of his panelists, to four months imprisonment each for contempt.
In the ruling delivered on July 27, 2016, the court also imposed a fine of Gh¢10,000 each (about US$ 2516 ) on the presenter, Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, and his panelists Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn for threatening to kill judges of the Supreme Court of Ghana.
If the three fail to pay the fine by July 28, they risk another one-month prison term, according to the court.
Ato Ahwoi, Edward Addo and Kwesi Kyei, three directors of Network Broadcasting Limited and Zeze Media which own and run Montie FM, were also ordered to pay a fine of Gh¢ 30,000 (about US$ 7,574 ) by July 28. A Vice Chairman of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) party who is the owner of the frequency on which the station operates, Harry Zakkour, was also fined Gh¢ 30,000 (about US$ 7,547).
The directors were further ordered to furnish the court with policies they would put in place to ensure that such offensive comments are not repeated on their network.
The sentence of the radio presenter, panelists and directors was as a result of remarks by Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn Nelson, who are activists of the ruling (NDC) party. The two warned on the June 29, edition of the “Pampaso” programme – which is presented by Salifu Maase – that the Supreme Court judges handling a case about Ghana’s electoral register would be killed if they gave the “wrong judgment.”
On July 12, 2016, the three appeared before the Supreme Court, together with one of the directors and were cited for inciting hatred against, and threatening to kill justices of the Supreme Court.
On July 18, the court presided over by Sophia Akuffo, found the contemnors guilty for “scandalizing the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court and bringing it into disrepute.” They were subsequently sentenced on July 27.
The MFWA is deeply concerned about and regrets the turn of events, and calls on journalists and media organisations to display the highest standards of professionalism. The need to be professional and responsible on the airwaves is critical especially as Ghana’s general elections draw closer.