General News of Saturday, 2 July 2016
A member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) communication team has dismissed allegations he made threatening statements against judges on an Accra-based radio station.
Godwin Ako Gunn’s name was mentioned in a statement released Saturday by the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) in which it condemned the utterances of Mr Gunn and Alistair Tairo Nelson.
According to the GBA, it “listened with shock and horror, sound recordings from a talk show program ostensibly held on Accra-based Muntie 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 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,” the statement signed by the National President of the Association, Benson Nutsukpui added.
The Association reiterated its position captured in Mr Nutsukpui 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”.
However, in a statement released Saturday, Godwin Gunn said, “My attention has been drawn to a widely circulated statement issued by the Ghana Bar Association in which a call has been made for my arrest and prosecution. The basis for the call is that I made comments threatening to kill Supreme court judges on a political discussion programme on Montie FM on Wednesday, 29th June,2016.
“For the avoidance of doubt,I wish to place it on record that I did not participate in any political discussion programme on Muntie FM,on the said date.Neither have I ever made comments threatening judges with death or any harm of any sort. The claim by the GBA is therefore false and the call for my arrest completely untenable . I therefore demand a retraction of the GBA statement and an apology for the harm done to my reputation.”
However, a co-panelist on the programme on the Accra-based radio station, Alistair Tairo Nelson, says he is sorry for making comments he made against the judges, some of which he says have been distorted.
He said, “On Wednesday 29th June I participated in a programme on Montie FM. During my contribution, I made statements that in context, content (though conditional) and timing, are regrettable.
“Notwithstanding the many distortions that have accompanied the numerous public comments, I wish to apologise unreservedly to the listening public, including those who have called to caution and advise, and also to all members of the bench who have been offended by my contribution on the programme. I also wish to apologise to the management of Montie FM for the unfortunate development. Thank you.”
Read GBA’s full statement below:
GHANA BAR ASSOCIATION’S STATEMENT ON THREATS TO JUDGES MADE ON MUNTIE 100.1 FM ON 29TH JUNE 2016
The Ghana Bar Association has listened with shock and horror, sound recordings from a talk show programme ostensibly held on Accra-based Muntie 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 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.
The 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”.
DATED AT ACCRA THIS 1ST DAY OF JULY 2016
(Sgd) Benson Nutsukpui
Ghana Bar Association