Montie FM Saga Arthur Kennedy lambasts lawyers over sentencing Montie trio

Nana Asante Bediatuo recently argued that the president will be acting extreme if he accedes to pressure from members of the NDC and his appointees, to grant the three contemnors  pardon.

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  play Dr. Arthur Kennedy
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A leading member of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) Dr Arthur Kennedy has called the bluff of lawyers challenging the powers of president Mahama as far as granting a presidential pardon to the Montie trio are concerned

Nana Asante Bediatuo recently argued that the president will be acting extreme if he accedes to pressure from members of the NDC and his appointees, to grant the three contemnors  pardon.

Read Also:Montie FM Saga Ignore calls to pardon Montie trio - Sam Okudjzetu cautions Mahama

The three, Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn and Salifu Maase, aka ‘Mugabe’ were sentenced to a four-month jail term by the Supreme Court for scandalising and bringing its name into disrepute through death threats on an Accra-based Montie FM.

Scores of NDC big wigs, supports as well as Ministers and Deputy Ministers have signed a petition for their release through the president’s powers under Article 72 after the sentencing.

Meanwhile, some legal wits in the country have cautioned president Mahama not to use his presidential powers to free the trio

Read More:Montie FM saga Mahama won't accept petition signed on Montie FM trio saga - Rawlings

Dr Arthur Kennedy, has released a statement to defend his comments about the matter. He said: “While I do not believe the President should pardon them, I have no doubt that he has the constitutional authority to pardon them. If the President can pardon murderers, he can pardon contemnors! Bediatuo et all are just making empty noise, as they did in the appointment of the E.C. Chair. If the President were to pardon them, there will be NO judicial review because it would be unconstitutional”.

Read full statement below

LAWYERS AND THE LAW

My friends, since I expressed my opinion on the MONTIE FM contemnors, I have been attacked by many for daring to offer an opinion on an issue that, in their opinion, should be left to seasoned legal minds.
I disagree.

The basis for participating in such debates is citizenship and personhood, not law school certificates. Indeed, throughout history, many societies have recognized that the law is too important to leave to lawyers.

The greatest set of laws ever written, the Ten Commandments, was brought down from the mountain, not by a seasoned lawyer, but by Moses, a layperson. Many of the "I put it to you" crowd now trying to muzzle me would have asked to see Moses ' law credentials before accepting the ten commandments but he had credentials-- from God!!.

Many societies allow jury trials because, as Thomas Jefferson stated, "I consider trial by jury as the only anchor imagined by man by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution ".

Indeed Ghana included non-lawyers like market women in drafting the 1992 constitution that has served us so well. Therefore, my fellow citizens, despite my unbounded admiration for many lawyers throughout history and in our country, laypeople like me have a place in our discussion of the laws and constitutions.

Despite my admiration for Thurgood Marshall, Bill Renquist, Clarence Darrow, Jonny Cochran, J.B. Danquah, Nana Addo, Sam Okudzeto and Nana Asante Bediatuo, to mention but a few, I insist that the lay perspectives that people like me bring are sometimes indispensable. That is why I asserted, correctly that the President had the constitutional authority to appoint the E.C. Chair while seasoned lawyers were wasting words and ink challenging that authority.

Indeed, we must view the claim by lawyers that they are the best custodians of the rule of law and constitutional democracy with a lot of scepticism.

In the U.S., it was eminent lawyers, sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court who handed down the Dred Scott decision of 1857 that barred blacks from US citizenship! It took them nearly a century and a detour through Plessy vs Ferguson before they finally redeemed themselves and America with Brown vs Board of Education which held that discrimination was unconstitutional in 1954. Here in Ghana too, members of the learned profession have been undermining the rule of law for a long time.

In 1961, it was some of our best legal minds, sitting on the Supreme Court, who upheld Preventive Detention and gutted the rule law in re: Akoto in the case of Baffour Osei Akoto and 7 others, despite J.B. Danquah's magnificent advocacy.

Throughout the 1980s, it was perhaps, the finest legal brain to come out of Legon, Tsatsu Tshikata, who helped the PNDC write proclamations while they gutted the rule of law. During the protracted attempt to cover up the murder of the judges, he was firmly on the side of the evil doers.

To finish on the case of the MONTIE FM contemnors, while I do not believe the President should pardon them, I have no doubt that he has the constitutional authority to pardon them. If the President can pardon murderers, he can pardon contemnors! Bediatuo et al, are just making empty noise, as they did in the appointment of the E.C. Chair. If the President were to pardon them, there will be NO judicial review because it would be unconstitutional.

Finally, my fellow Ghanaians, we should never kowtow to the tyranny of the "I put it to you" profession. We belong in the discussions of our constitution and our laws, not because we are lawyers but simply because we are citizens!

God bless Ghana.

Arthur K

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