“What is legal is not always right”. I was reminded of this quote by a friend during a discussion about the recent decision by the President to remit the sentences of the now infamous “Montie 3” who had been jailed for “scandalizing and lowering the authority of the court” by the Supreme Court.
Typically, the decision to remit the sentences of the convicted Montie 3 has sparked debates – similar to the one that inspired this post – across the country. In the immediate aftermath of the announcement of the decision, quite a few people via social media and comment sections of the media handles and websites of some of the nation’s biggest media houses expressed their certainty that the President had finally made the decision that would confirm his loss in the impending general elections. Others, however, have praised the President’s decision and hailed it as the right decision. This should not be surprising. It’s just a typical day in Ghanaian politics. In the midst of all of these somewhat extreme reactions, however, we may all need to take a deep breath and take all of this in context.
As this writer has expressed in a previous post, the Montie 3 saga has been one long bungle from one bad decision to the other. The Montie 3 should never have uttered the statements they made, not only for the decency of our politics and our judiciary but also for the decency of our society as a whole. When they did, however, they opened up themselves to the consequences of their utterances and so it is difficult to begrudge the Supreme Court for deciding to deal with what they considered was a threat to the judiciary. It was all done lawfully but this writer had hoped that the report of the BNI’s investigation into the comments which in part found that the Montie 3’s utterances were a “show of needless bravado” would have at the least, been taking into consideration during their prosecution.
When the Montie 3 were sentenced, however, it was also the right of their supporters, friends, and families to sign a petition for the President to overturn the decision of the Supreme Court. Again, one cannot help but wonder if some of the signatories carefully considered the ramifications of the potential release of the contemnors beyond familial and political lines. It is not far-fetched to say that the President had a momentous decision to make when the petition for the release of the Montie 3 was finally submitted to him. He could back the judgment of the highest court in the land or he could pander to the wishes of his party and supporters. Disappointingly, once again, someone in a position to make a change and nip what – in the opinion of this writer – were unwise decisions, failed to make the right decision.
Now that the Montie saga has (hopefully) run its regrettable course, it is hoped that we return to salient issues. People ardently for or against the President are unlikely to change their opinions or voting decisions during the elections due to the manner of the conclusion of the Montie 3 saga; after all, whether you agree to the manner of the events or not, they were all done by the book. What should certainly concern us, however, are the issues that predate the unfortunate Montie saga. Erratic power supply, the high cost of living, inflation and graduate unemployment are some of the issues that did not take a break when the Montie 3 saga was at its peak and will not suddenly pass away with the saga’s climax.
In the long-term, however, in order to prevent a repeat of cases like the saga which is the subject of this post, we need to reclaim the cleanliness that used to be one of the hallmarks of our politics and democracy. Snide remarks, outright insults, and threats have slowly but surely made their way into our nation’s politics and have largely gone unchecked by those in the positions of power and in some cases even encouraged and
defended by sections of the populace. Long statements of law and punitive jail sentences do not need to be deployed to tackle something we must not forget: that whatever Ghana is or becomes does not affect just one section or group of people but every single one of us.
Author: Ferdinand Senam Hassan, threesixtyGh writer
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