General Secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Kwadwo Owusu-Afriyie, popularly referred to as Sir John, has said the Supreme Court Judges’ reaction in respect of public comments on the proceedings in the ongoing presidential election petition is an attempt to cow people from expressing themselves.
Sir John indicated that the conduct of the Supreme Court Judges in the infamous Sammy Awuku encounter is appalling and must be condemned.
Sir John made the comments during an interview which was re-played on Radio Gold’s Alhaji and Alhaji news analysis programme during a panel discussion on contemptuous and unethical comments about the on-going election petition hearing.
Awuku was invited by the Supreme Court on June 19 for saying that the Judges were hypocritical and selective in their views about contemptuous publications.
The Court had earlier complained about misrepresentation of facts in the election petition proceedings on numerous media and cited a Daily Guide publication as an example.
When Awuku appeared before the court, he apologised but was still punished with a ban from the court for the rest of the trial.
But Sir John was unimpressed. He said he has heard President John Mahama make comments which are clearly contemptuous, but the Judges are yet to point to his comments as contempt, much less to invite him, like they did to Sammy Awuku.
He also questioned the Judges’ rationale for reading or listening to commentaries in the media, and admonished them to learn from the UK’s House of Lords, who according to him closed their eyes and ears on media commentaries about cases they preside over.
In an emotional voice, he charged the Judges to concentrate on adjudicating the election petition case before them based on the evidence alone.
Angry Sir John went on further with his sharp criticism of the Judges’ conduct when he said they are gentle when dealing with Counsel for the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, but they are hard on Philip Addison, Counsel for the petitioners.
He charged Justice William Atuguba, president of the panel of Judges hearing the petition, to be careful with his actions.
Judges must not be prosecutors too
Kwesi Pratt Jnr, who was a panel on the programme said he was disgusted by verbal assault against the Judges – such as those by Sir John.
He, however, believes the procedure the Court used in the recent incarceration of Stephen Atubiga, an NDC communicator and Ken Kuranchie, Editor of the Searchlight newspaper, was unfair.
The Editor of the Insight newspaper said there must be proper procedures to ensure that guilt is adequately established when alleged contemnors are brought before the Court.
Kwesi Pratt Jnr believes there must be procedures to ensure “that those who are brought before the Court knows clearly the charges they are facing”.
He said he was in support of the view that it is wrong for Judges to be prosecutors at the same time – as it happened in contempt charges.