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05.08.2016 Feature Article

The Montie Triumvirate And Custodial Sentence: Please Stop The stampede And Intimidation O F The President And Support The Alternative sentencing Advocacy Agenda Instead

The Montie Triumvirate And Custodial Sentence: Please Stop The stampede And Intimidation O F The President And Support The Alternative sentencing Advocacy Agenda Instead
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Admittedly , the case of the now known and called the Montie -3 , which l will refer to as the Montie Truimvirate will continue to dominate our media landscape for sometime to come ,not neccessarily because Ghanaians do not have much to think about at this time but much more of our corporate interest and concerns for public peace ,public morality ,the sense of responsibility and good neighbourliness

So much has already been said as by way of public discourses on the subject , although some of the postions taken reflect a rather skewed levels of sentiments ,which undoubtedly have accentuated the already polarised political atmosphere of the times

Against a background of providing a platform for the public dscussions of matters relating to the coming general election -2016 , the stage was set for the bizarre and despicable utterances of the truimvirates which is now believed to be the threat of life to the ladyship the Chief Justice and the Supreme Court judges on this occasion

These are adult ghanaians who believed they are professionals enough to have the comprehension of the su ject matter and knew fully well the import of their panel contributions and the relevance of such in the role of the media to inform, educate and entertain the general public .

It is my thought that these guys were inghana or perhaps read about th numerous counsel by the media foundation about the need for decorum in public uterrances, the Peace Councils' reminders and admonishments for civility in media engagements and of course the developments that characterised the infamous 2012 Suprreme Court's petition hearings , the fall outs and the incidences of the contemptous behaviour of some i dividuals andthe prices they paid thereof

These were persons who threw away every caution to the wind in the name of political populism, activism and jingoism ,with such gross disregard to the sensitivities and emotions of the public

The submissions of presenting a petition to our President for executive pardon under the guise of the excuses ttat "this is our first time ", cannot hold any water in my humble view given it defies commonsense and logic

Precisely, this is because as informed adults ,they should have been conscious and aware of the dire consequences of their bravado or the play to the gallery posture exhibited on that occasion

Sadly, they were so carried away that much that the hindsight of Proverbs 17:27 " whosoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding " got lost with them

Perhaps the triumvirates could have learnt something from their sunday school teachers as reflected in Proverbs 16:24 " whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue ,keeps himself out of trouble "

Possibly there might be lessons of such morale values and wisdom reflected in the Koran l wish to think

Indeed they were under no compulsion to spew such venom the way the did, as what should have informed their presentations was to be the accurate substance and the facts of the subject under discussions

My worry about their reasons for the claim to executive pardon, presents problematic as it demostrates a level of misplaced plea, for example any trigger happy police officer can just get hold of a state gun , goes to town and shoots down dead someone only for his lawyers to advice him to submit a petition to the President on the grounds of a First Offence with the rhetoric to err is human

The bible in Proverbs again admonishes in chapter 17 : 28 " Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise , when he closes his lips he is deemed intelligent "

The apologists of the Montie Triumvirates may be taking their stance on what l deem elusive conclusions , for it may be easy to advance the argument that even if they so threatened the Chief Justice and for that matter anyone else, their mouths were not guns

This is the illogical presentation the BNI was reported to have concluded when it was indicated 6 they found the three musketeers not capable of commting any act of death

Granting that this is but the real truth and the real risk assessment outcome ,there still remains those ingredients of psychological and emotional damages suffered by the victims and their families andl with the prospects of traumatisation

It is in this vein that these legions of apologists and sympathisers of the offenders must stop, listen and think again ,again and again about the potential harm caused to the psyche and mental wellbeing of the victims of the outrageous statements and brace themselves up for the four months custodial sentence

As demonstrated in the book of Matthew 62: 36-37 ; " l tell you on the day of judgement people will give account of any careless word they speak , for by words you will be justified , and by your word you will be condemned ", remembering though that "whosoever guards his mouth preserves his life ,he who opens wide his lips comes to ruin -- Proverbs 13:3 .

The political season has become so pregnant with potential disequilibruim of the polity and calls for political wisdom, discernment and great circumspection at all levels of the community and no room should or can be left for evil men with evil agenda to prevail against our nation state, no doubt Amos 5 :13 warns that " Therefore such a time the prudent person keeps silent , for it is an evil time ."

It is the evilness of the time that has come with it the positioning of the apologists of the three offenders motivated by their own understandings and beliefs in massing up siignatures as weapon to stampede ,intimidate and blackmail our President into appending that honourable and important signature to their whims and caprices of a petition

Although l really do not begrudge these elements of the society ,given they are entitled to their aspirations and views, so also has the President that responsibility of being a good father for all and reserves the right to think independently of them.

More precisely as he owns his position to the mandate of the electorate directly rather than by proxy as indeed by those ministers of state who clearly are not accountable to the electorate at anytime and fnd it too easy to be in the forefront, sowing the seeds of stampede, intimidation ,blackmail and antagoism between the Executive and the Judiciary of our democracy

It might well be that it is this position Sam Okudzeto attempted stating in his words of wisdom that the president must be wary of not having to be responsible for his own funeral ,drawing critics he fought back , describing them as not comprehending basics of the English Language

I will dare state here that it might take a miracle that unlike the democrat Prime Minister of the Progress Party goverment, who undermined the rule of law by declaring No Court No Court , in the historic infamous Sallah versus the Republic saga, the President who himself is a student of history may wish to avoid any political waterloo , as he does not seem to be in a hurry for such political suicide ,but yet again in politics nothing comes too much as surprises or miracles anymore .

In terms of the sentencing, one may not be too clear of what went into it ,sufice to think it fits into the sentencing options of the archaic ,obsolete ,anarchronistic and not fit for purpose criminal procedure code, one that still has ONLY financial penalty and custody as sentencing disposals available to our adult courts without any regards to alternatives to custodial sentencing framework.

This meant the supreme court in its consideration of the degree of seriousness of the offence and may be its inclination to the justice model of punishment , with the emphasis on " the punishment fits the crime philosophy ", might have thought custodial sentence is much more commensurate with the offence seriousness and the risks the three musketeers pose to public safety and public protection .

They might have taken some cognisance may be of the grave aggravating features of the offence in terms of such reckless statements made on the eve of the 34th rememberance day of the murdered judges and a military officer

It is however my concern though that in this part of our world, the criminal procedure code should still provide the opportunity for " double jeopardy ", as it appears from the sentencing that the court is legally empowered to impose custody , financial penalty or both on the offenders

It probably would have meant some judicial sense if what was imposed as financial penalty of 10,000 ghana cedis , could have been meant to be and described as compensation as pertains in the jurisdiction from which Ghana derived its criminal justice system and of that imposed on the owners of the media house presents a novelty that may require some further investigations as part of our learning process .

For those describing the sentence as harsh, whilst they may be well entitled to their perceived opinions, it might well be neccessary in speculating that it was not much more harsher than those spoken words across the airwave ,and that the court's resnponse is the phenomenon akin to the proportionality philosophy of punishment .

The clamour for non custodial sentence on this occasion by the likes of Ato Dadzie presents interesting, as in technical terms ,as such disposal is not provided for by the criminal procedure code, he was goading the supreme court to conduct itself in an unconstitutional and illegal manner to suit his whims and caprices

Of course this failure of an obsolete and archaic legislative framework that still has only financial penalty and custody as court disposals needs more than an urgent rethinking in my professional assessment

With the framework of an alternative to cudtodial sentence paradigm, the supreme court might have had the opportunity to explore other such alternatives as suspended sentence, community service or community pay back, restorative justice and indeed the victim - offender mediation conferencing and Ato Dadzie et al may have been spot on in their advocacy on this occasion

For now, my counsel will be for Ato Dadzie et al and especially those at the forefront of the petition of albatross to consciously throw their energies ,time and practical support to the on going penal reform advocacy agenda of Omro , Crrecent and the Penal Reform Consortuim ,so that alternatives to prison custody can be realised and finds its place within our criminal justice system as pertains in those other democratic jurisdictions which value fundamental human rights

There are several articles out there authored by this writer and published by modernghana.com for public information and education with regsrds to any and meaningful references to the non custodial policy agenda

For the records , these articles include : Why Penal Reform and not the Justice For All Reform Is the most Appropriate Response to Prison Overcrowding - 18 December 2011 , Sentencing in Ghana : An Open Letter to her Ladyship the Chief Justice - 24 October 2012 , The Chief Justices' call for Quality Justice Delivery Revisited -11 October ,2012 , Yet another Crazy Sentencing in Ghana -4 May 2012 , Open leto our President Re Penal Reform Agenda in Ghana , Setting the Agenda for a Paradigm shift in Ghana's Criminal Justice delivery System - 23 February 2013 , The features of Community based Sentences - 15 April 2013 , Rethinking Crime and Punishment in Ghana: Is our Criminal Procedure Code not an Albatross and Anachronism -17 July 2013 , The Outrageous and Ridiculous Sentences in Ghana are but the Abuse of Sentencing Powers-20 August 2014 .

* The author, a Penal Reform Advocate is the Executive Director of Omro ,a ghanaian nongovernmental organisation and founding member of Penal Reform Consortuim

Marcus-Chris Lawson
Marcus-Chris Lawson, © 2016

The author has 63 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: MarcusChrisLawson

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