Ghana: Radio panellists, host jailed for contempt

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - Ghana's Supreme Court on Wednesday jailed two panellists on a political talk show on an Accra-based radio station and the host of the programme for four months each for contempt.

Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn, the panellists, and Salifu Maase, alias Mugabe, the host of the programme on Montie FM, were also fined 10,000 Ghana cedis each (US$1=3.94 Ghana cedis) or serve another one month in jail. They are to pay the fine by the close of work on Thursday.

The court, presided over by Justice Sophia Akuffo, found them guilty of scandalizing the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court and bringing it into disrepute.

The panellists issued death threats to judges of the Supreme Court while they were hearing the case brought before it by some opposition members who wanted the names of those who registered as voters using the National Health Insurance Scheme cards to be deleted.

The owners of the pro-government Montie FM were also found guilty of contempt and fined 30,000 Ghana cedis to be paid by close of day on Thursday or face a jail term of one month, while the company which owns the frequency was fined 30,000 Ghana cedis.

All of them apologised and their lawyers pleaded for mercy but the court said that the media and all radio panellists must learn valuable lessons from the judgement and stop unnecessary attacks on the courts and judges.

Justice Akuffo noted that the panellists callously reminded the court of the gruesome murder of three High Court judges and an army officer in 1992.

She said the court deserved utmost respect if the country’s democracy was to be safeguarded, and that any conduct that sought to interfere with the judiciary was an act against the community.

The court said the owners appeared to have little or no interest in what transpired on their radio station and expressed the hope that every media house owner would henceforth take keen interest in what is broadcast on their radio station.

In a reaction, the General Secretary of the Ghana Journalists Association, Dave Agbenu, described the jail term as "a sad day for media practice" in Ghana.

An Accra-based radio station, Starr FM, quoted him as saying: "...It shouldn’t have come to this, it shouldn’t have been here at all, it’s unnecessary..."

“We need deterrent but this is not the kind of deterrent we should use to cure the mischief that we intend to cure,” Mr Agbenu added.
-0- PANA MA/VAO 27July2016

27 july 2016 15:17:14

xhtml CSS