August 10, 2013 (Lead Story)
The General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, popularly known as Sir John, and a member of the communication team of the NPP, Mr Hopeson Adorye, have formally been summoned to appear before the Supreme Court on August 14, 2013 to answer contempt charges.
The summons, dated August 9, 2013 and jointly signed by the presiding judge of the nine-member panel hearing the presidential election petition and the registrar of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice William Atuguba and Mr James Mensah, respectively, are asking the two to show why they “should not to be committed to prison for contempt of this court for scandalising the court, lowering the authority and credibility of this court in the eyes of the general public and exciting hatred and ill-will towards the first and second respondents herein”.
The first and second respondents in the presidential election petition are President John Dramani Mahama and the Electoral Commission (EC).
Sir John, a lawyer, is alleged to have accused the Bench of being biased, while Mr Adorye is alleged to have stated that the heads of members of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) would be chopped off if President Mahama, whose Presidency is under challenge, was declared winner of the ongoing Presidential election petition.
It has been exactly a month since the Supreme Court’s attention was drawn to these alleged contemnors’ remarks.
Content of Summons for Sir John
“It having come to the notice of this court as per a publication in the “Vol. 18 No. 58, Friday 5th July, 2013” issue of the newspaper known as “THE ENQUIRER” under the banner, on the front page thereof, to wit,
“SIR JOHN DESCENDS ON JUSTICE ATUGUBA … Calls him a Hypocrite, A Joker Who Pampers Tsikata, Scolds Addison” and elaborated at page 4 thereof, that you, Kwadwo Owusu Afriyie, popularly known as “Sir John”, did on the 25th day of June, 2013 on a talk show, on Oman Fm, in the Twi language described the presiding judge of this panel “as a hypocritical joker who pampers the counsel for the National Democratic Congress, Tsatsu Tsikata, but habitually scolds the counsel for the NPP” … That the said judge habitually “frowned like a voodoo deity.”
…That “Do they think we are stupid, you sit there and frown like a voodoo deity, when Addison is talking you shut him down and beat him with sticks but when it comes to Tsatsu, when he gets angry, you ask him apologetically if he is angry. Tsikata’s cross-examination was for how many days? Didn’t Atuguba and Co see that the questions he was asking were nonsensical?”
…That “What hurts me most is that man that you call Atuguba , or Atu … Atugubu, whoever, you say he is called what?... I mean that judge, that your judge, that judge that you call Atugu… whatever, he oh he, he is funny”
…That “the Supreme Court had prepared mashed yam in palm oil (Eto, an Akan delicacy) and stuffed it with egg for Tsatsu Tsikata to eat”
… That “Justice Atuguba by his action, was up to hypocritical antics that is intended to lead to the NPP not getting the opportunity to play a tape recording of Electoral Commissioner, Dr. Kwadwo Afari-Gyan’s voice declaring that ‘No Verification, no vote’, so that the President can win the case.”
…That “Any final verdict of the Supreme Court, apart from the declaration of Akufo-Addo as winner of the elections … would amount to stealing.”
…That “To the relatives of judges sitting on the election petition, … If you have a relative who is on the panel go and tell him that you don’t want a funeral on your hands, beg him to speak the truth. …. I know the judges, they will speak the truth, but there is one or two, one particular judge who opens his mouth at anytime and the next thing you hear is a warning. I want him to know that he can’t intimidate us. I have never heard him warn Mahama.”
…That “the whole of Ghana has watched and seen that Justice Atuguba was trying to cheat the NPP, … and yet he is telling us not to complain.”
YOU, KWADWO OWUSU-AFRIYIE ARE HEREBY ORDERED to appear before this Court on the 14th day of August, 2013 at 10 O’clock in the forenoon or so soon thereafter as you can be heard to show cause why you should not to be committed to prison for contempt of this court, for thereby:
- scandalising the court,
- lowering the authority and credibility of this court in the eyes of the general public, and
- exciting hatred and ill-will towards the first and second respondents herein.
It having come to the notice of this court as per a publication in the “VOL. 3 ISSUE# 991 Monday 8th July, 2013” of the Newspaper known as “Daily Post” that you HOPESON ADORYE as per a banner on the front page thereof titled “WE SHALL CUT THE HEADS OF NDC SUPPORTERS IF…SUPREME COURT DELCLARES PREZ MAHAMA WINNER” and continuing with elaboration at page 4 thereof, did say in an interview with Time FM, Obuasi on the 26th day of June 2013 that “the NPP will … go on a head cutting spree, cutting off the heads of NDC supporters should the Supreme Court declare President Mahama the winner”,
… That “the NPP will not accept the verdict of the Supreme Court if Akufo-Addo is not declared winner since others in the NDC have also said there will be civil war if the Supreme Court rules in favour of Akufo-Addo”,… That “the claim by fellow NPP activist, Samuel Awuku, that the Supreme Court judges were bias and are hypocrites was an appropriate comment for which Awuku should not have apologised”.
YOU, HOPESON ADORYE, ARE HEREBY ORDERED to appear before this court on the 14th day of August at 10 O’clock in the forenoon or so soon thereafter as you can be heard, to show cause why you should not be committed to prison for contempt of court, for thereby:
- scandalising the court,
- defying and lowering the authority of this court
- and exciting prejudice and ill will towards the first and third respondents herein.
The Supreme Court after several admonitions to the public, on June 24, 2013 issued a final warning (touchline) to lawyers, journalists, political activists and social commentators from making prejudicial comments on the ongoing presidential election petition.
Observing that the orders were not being heeded to, the court on June 26, 2013 banned the Deputy Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Sammy Awuku, from attending the election petition hearing until the final determination of the petition.
Prior to his banishment, Mr Awuku apologised for accusing the court of being selective and hypocritical for expressing displeasure over a Daily Guide news report.
The “Silenced” Three
The Editor of the Daily Searchlight newspaper, Kenneth Agyei Kuranchie, and a Member of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Communication Team, Stephen Atubiga, were on July 2, 2013 sentenced to 10 days and three days imprisonment respectively for falling foul of the court’s orders to persons to desist from making prejudicial comments about the ongoing petition.
They have both completed their jail terms. Atubiga is currently a peace ambassador.
The court’s final touchline warning took effect from June 24, 2013.
Thus all other persons who might have made grievous comments about the ongoing case have been spared by “statutory limitation.”