Opinion: Can any ordinary citizen of Ghana scandalise the courts, apologise and go scot free?

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Justice Anim Yeboah, the chief justice

Where punishment dispensed does not serve as severe deterrence enough to curb the incidence where our judiciary is continually denigrated and bastardized to an extent where any person, sitting anywhere at any time has the effrontery to publicly hurl insults, issue threats and displays offensive conduct towards Judges and Courts of competent jurisdiction in the country, and the person is then left off the hook, goes unpunished and goes scot-free simply because of the persons’ political affiliation and political connections within the corridors of power, that country is sitting on a time-bomb and eminent danger of calamitous consequences may befall the country.

Kennedy Ohene Agyapong who prides himself as a maverick and firebrand NPP MP representing the people of Assin Central Constituency in the Central Region, on 2nd September 2020 publicly insulted a High Court Judge for placing a Court injunction on him over a protracted land dispute that involves him.

Hon Kennedy Ohene Agyapong, a legislator (law maker) publicly scandalised a High Court (i.e. a Superior Court of Ghana) and threatened the sitting Judge in an unprovoked reaction that scandalised the Court’s jurisdiction and the ex-parte injunction that was served on him on the ongoing land case. Kennedy Agyapong made the unsavoury pronouncements and threats on a television program on Net2 TV, where he publicly referred to the Judge as stupid and threatened to petition and report the Judge to the Chief Justice for serving the injunction order against him.

Many lawyers and well-meaning Ghanaians have unanimously called that the whip must be cracked against Hon Kennedy Agyapong to serve as a deterrent to any person seeking to repeat such uncouth behaviour and uncivilized conduct in a country with an enviable international reputation for upholding the tenets of the “rule of law.”

Professor Jane Naana Opoku Agyemang in a recent public statement remarked that “If you talk about naming and shaming you must be consistent, and if you want to apply the law it should be applied consistently.” Simply put Prof Naana Opoku Agyemang is reminding the Chief Justice to ensure that the law is consistently applied and the same exacting standards of punishment for contempt is administered on Kennedy Agyapong just as it was applied to other contemnors in accordance with established judicial precedents set in Ghana to serve as a deterrent otherwise Ghana risks losing its reputation within the comity of nations, and within the ambit of common law jurisprudence to which Ghana subscribes and is a bona fide member.

Dr. Maurice Ampaw, a private legal practitioner has also publicly described Hon Kennedy Agyapong as a “spoilt brat” and believes that this time around he must be made to face the full rigours of the law because he has been pampered for far too long.

Ghanaians are increasingly getting worried at the deteriorating standards in justice delivery in the country and the perception that money buys justice and one’s status in society and political affiliation means that powerful and politically connected individuals can escape justice irrespective of the gravity of the crime they commit. Kennedy Agyapong should expect to go to jail like any ordinary citizen who threatens and insults judges. But will this be the case in Kennedy Agyapong’s contempt case?

Any objective Ghanaian will readily conclude that the Kennedy Agyapong contempt incident is not different from the pro-NPP Delta Forces vigilante group incident when about 50 members of Delta Forces invaded a Court premises in Kumasi where a Judge was in sitting in session adjudicating on a case involving some members of Delta Forces, to set free 13 of their colleagues who were standing trial for assault and acts vandalism.

In the Delta Forces contempt incident a paltry fine of Ghs1,000 each was the punishment that was delivered and applied to the contemnors. The fine was laughable and disproportionate compared to the gravity of the offense committed and judicial precedence set and applied in the 2016 Montie-3 contempt case where each of the contemnors was sentenced to serve a jail term of four (4) months and also made to pay a hefty fine of Ghs10,000 each. In addition the directors of the Montie radio station were also fined Ghs30,000.

These developments depict the prevailing falling standards of justice delivery in Ghana and the injustice being dispensed and supervised by the Judiciary.  Ghana appears to be at the crossroads and it now behoves on the Chief Justice to change the narrative of a broken judiciary by ensuring that Hon Kennedy Agyapong does not go scot-free without being severely punished to serve as a deterrent to him personally and to others who may attempt to scandalise our Courts and recklessly issue threats and insult on Judges.

Unlike the Montie-3 contempt incident when the hypocritical 2-faced, double standards motley of institutions, bodies and associations like the Ghana Bar Association, National Peace Council and Catholic Bishops Conference and others found the need to publicly condemn the Montie-3 contemnors and even publicly advised the Supreme Court to ignore their pleas and remorseful public apologies rendered by the three contemnors and their lawyers for punishment to be dispensed, in the Kennedy Agyapong contempt case these same institutions, bodies and associations have so far maintained a despicable eerie silence.

Ghanaians will be outraged if Kennedy Agyapong is not made to face the full rigours of the law and convicted to serve time in jail and also fined as punishment. We hereby appeal to the good conscience of the Ghana Bar Association, National Peace Council and Catholic Bishop’s Conference to add their voices to ensure that Kennedy Agyapong is punished just like the Montie-3 were punished or they forever maintain their silence and in future desist from publicly commenting on political and social issues in Ghana, especially when NPP is out of power and in opposition.

By: Mahjid Mustapha, Opinions published on this website do not represent the views of Daily Mail GH

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