General News of Tuesday, 23 August 2016
Remission of Montie 3 sentence is to NPP’s advantage – Asiedu Nketia
General Secretary of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketia has said the New Patriotic Party (NPP) can score a political advantage over President Mahama’s decision to pardon the Montie FM radio host and his two panelists.
He has therefore advised the party to take advantage of it and put an end to the “needless” arguments concerning the President’s action.
President Mahama on Monday granted remission of the prison sentence imposed on the three persons otherwise known as Montie trio, for contempt of court.
A statement issued and signed by the Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, said the decision of the President to remit the sentences on compassionate grounds followed a petition submitted to him by the contemnors appealing to the President to exercise his prerogative of mercy.
There have been several debates following the President’s decision to pardon the three, with some describing the action as an affront to the judiciary.
But speaking on Citi FM Tuesday morning, Mr. Asiedu Nketia explained that the President acted within the remits of his power and that the ensuing arguments were not necessary.
“The President under article 72 has been given that power and all presidents in Ghana have had occasions to exercise it. It is called a prerogative of mercy, it is not based on justice or any arguments or when it is exercised it doesn’t mean that the beneficiaries are not guilty. If they are not guilty then that is mercy…so this whole argument about the seriousness or otherwise of their guilt is totally misplaced,” he said.
Mr. Asiedu Nketia also argued that the President owed no one an explanation as to who to pardon or not.
“There is no requirement of the president explaining why he had mercy for one person or the other and so the president doesn’t owe anybody any explanation. It has never been the practice that when that power is exercised you wish to find out the justification so all those arguments of justification is totally misplaced,” he said.
Mr. Asiedu Nketia however had a word of advice to the opposition NPP, telling them to be true to themselves and rejoice over the President’s conduct since that could boost their fortunes at the December polls.
“Those who were arguing against the president granting this were saying that if he does it he would lose the elections, I would be expecting those people to jubilate today. So if the president is conducting himself in ways that will lead to him losing the elections, is that not a cause for celebration? Why are you annoyed about this?”
“If they were genuine in their assessment, they should be celebrating today that the president has taken this step and that step will lead to him losing. If he loses, NPP gains. So all the NPP commentators who are saying that if he does it he will lose, he has done it so It inures to your benefit so go and take your electoral advantage and win the elections,” he derided.
General News of Monday, 22 August 2016
Mahama arrives in N/R despite anti-gov’t protest
President John Mahama has arrived in the Northern region to begin his campaign tour of the region.
He is currently in Salaga where he is expected to address a rally later today. He will be in the region for four days.
Mr. Mahama arrives in his home region despite an ongoing protest by a coalition of opposition political parties in the area.
The protesters earlier clashed with a vigilante group believed to be aligned to the ruling party.
According to an eyewitness, the Azorka boys appeared from “nowhere” and entered the crowd of demonstrators around the ‘Vodafone traffic light’ in Tamale.
“The demonstrators have been on the streets since morning. But we don’t know where the Azorka boys came from, all we saw was that they had entered the crowd and the confrontation begun but the Police were at the traffic light junction so they stopped them,” a reporter with Tamale-based Diamond FM Ken Edward told StarrFMonline.com.
He said calm has been restored and the demonstrators are proceeding with their march.
The opposition political parties led by the New Patriotic Party are demonstrating over the economic situation in the country.
NPP alarmed over ‘secret’ registration of prisoners
The New Patriotic Party (NPP) has expressed concern over the decision of the Electoral Commission to register prisoners without informing the various political parties.
“We have observed that the Commission is commencing voter registration in prisons across the country per letters emanating from some District offices. However, there has been no notification to political parties to inform them and have the opportunity to monitor this process as has been the practice,” the party said in a letter addressed to the EC chairperson, Charlotte Osei.
Below are details of the letter
THE ELECTORAL COMMISSIONER
CONCERNS OVER ONGOING PROCESSES LEADING TO THE 2016 GENERAL ELECTIONS
We wish to bring to the attention of the Commission some concerns for urgent redress as we prepare towards the 2016 General Election.
1. We have observed that the Commission is commencing voter registration in prisons across the country per letters emanating from some District offices. However, there has been no notification to political parties to inform them and have the opportunity to monitor this process as has been the practice.
2. We request to know what modalities are in place towards foreign registrations for this year’s election as well as particulars of the existing foreign registrations done earlier by the Commission.
3. We note a release from the Commission on challenges encountered with the ongoing Continous Voter Registration on the 19h August exercise and the decision to extend the registration hours to 8pm on that day and an additional day extention to the 27th of August 2016.
We would have wished that much as the C.I 91 grants this activity of the Commission in consultation with political parties, the parties would have been duly notified/consulted before any such decisions are taken.
4. The procedures announced for proxy vote has to be reviewed. The Commission directs that a prospective proxy can go to the Commission and pick up forms for the applicant. This should not be the case because of the inherent abuse.
I refer to Regulation 25 (2) of C.I 94 which states that “The applicant shall complete a proxy form set out in Form Six of the Schedule”. What this means is that nobody can make or complete proxy forms on behalf of an applicant.
The Commission has also decided to do this exercise at all district offices and adds the headquarters of the Commission. One wonders why the EC headquarters must be part of this as it’s not even a registration center. We want the Commission to engage with the Parties on this exercise to ensure effective monitoring.
An early response to the concerns is anticipated. As a stakeholder, we would wish to receive formal correspondence from the commission on activities that we are required to play a part instead of through the media , so as to help in getting our members and the general public to participate fully .
As we approach the election, it is expected that the Commission would be more transparent and ensure inclusiveness of stakeholders in its activities.
General Secretary (Ag.)
General News of Friday, 19 August 2016
IGP withdraws all Police personnel from Donkorkrom
The Ghana Police Service has withdrawn all personnel stationed at Donkorkrom in the Eastern region due to the destruction caused to a Police post and its properties in that town.
The decision comes after residents in Donkorkrom torched the Police post and police vehicles in protest of two police officers who escaped after they were arrested for their involvement in the robbery on a GCB bullion van in the region.
Residents who suspected that the police officers were deliberately let off the hook, angrily attacked the police station and demanded the transfer of all personnel in the town.
The two police officers were re-arrested at Nkawkaw Thursday afternoon and have been transferred to the regional head office for prosecution.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday in Accra, Director General of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Police Service, Prosper Agblor stated that two of its officers being involved in a robbery does not make the entire force a bad one.
He condemned the behavior of the residents and stated until the destroyed station is renovated by the residents and all damaged vehicles are paid for, no police officer will be stationed in Donkorkrom.
Agblor also urged the residents to show remorse and apologise for their actions.
Meanwhile, over a hundred combined force of Police and military personnel have been dispatched to the area to maintain law and order.
Obinim must see a psychologist – Ken Kuranchie
The managing editor of the Daily Searchlight has advised the founder and leader of the International Godsway Church, Bishop Daniel Obinim, to volunteer and see a psychologist before things get out of hand.
Speaking on Atinka AM Drive with Ekourba Gyasi on Friday, Ken Kuranchie mentioned that Obinim has to be examined psychologically to ensure that he is sound.
According to Kuranchie, Obinim’s family is failing to advise him to see a psychologist because of his wealth.
He added that Obinim himself might not be conscious of his predicament due to his success and that the fact that he is the leader of a successful congregation.
He further stated that he realized Obinim was not “normal” when he stormed the studios of Hot FM to vandalize the place.
He mentioned that beating a pregnant woman is out of the ordinary and if he fails to see a psychologist, his next line of action would be worse than what he did in the latest video.
“His siblings should gather the courage and take him to a psychologist before he drags himself and his family name into disrepute”, he said.
Obinim hasn’t committed a crime – Kofi Bentil
The Vice President of IMANI, Kofi Bentil, says controversial miracle worker Bishop Daniel Obinim has not committed a crime by publicly whipping a pregnant girl and her boyfriend before his congregation.
According to Bentil, who is also a lawyer, Obinim cannot be charged before the law because the individuals involved willingly subjected themselves to his punishment.
The Gender ministry has filed a police complainant against the pastor after a video of him flogging two of his church members publicly for fornicating went viral on social media.
Although he has explained that he whipped them because he is in charge of their welfare, human rights advocates have said his actions are in breach of the law and must be sanctioned.
“Bishop Obinim has committed no crime! There’s a principle in law called ‘Volenti non fit injuria’ google it.It simply means you cannot complain about something you willingly submit to. That is why footballers can’t sue if they are kicked and injured normally during play. They agreed to play, and getting kicked and injured is natural to that sport,” Bentil wrote on his Facebook wall.
He added: “by the way, if you are his friend please tell him this….He is digging his own grave by saying the people are his adopted kids.
“That position makes him guilty because the law doesn’t allow you to abuse and disgrace your kids! he is better off saying they are just members of his church, that way they cannot complain of something they willingly submitted themselves to!! If you attend that church, you deserve to be whipped!”
Nobody can punish Obinim – Aide
Anyone willing to take on Bishop Daniel Obinim for flogging his children for fornicating “should bring it on, we are ready to face them,” an aide to the controversial pastor has bravely stated.
In an interview on Morning Starr, Joseph Oppong Brenya told host Nii Arday Clegg that nobody can prosecute the founder of the International God’s Way Church because he only disciplined his “wayward” children.
The divisive miracle pastor has come under immense criticism after a video circulating on social media captured Bishop Obinim battering a hapless pregnant congregant and her boyfriend.
The controversial pastor in the video appeared angered by the couple’s amorous activity which has led to a pregnancy.
As a result he took the law into his hands, lashing the youngman on his bare back before turning to the girl flogging her mercilessly with a belt in the full glare of his congregation.
Throughout the brutal punishment, Obinim is heard questioning the jobless youngman why he got the girl pregnant when he has no finances for her upkeep and the upbringing of the unborn child.
The girl who was unable to stand the flogging attempts to escape, but she was held by henchmen of the Bishop to enable the bishop mete out more beatings.
Bishop Obinim’s conduct according to the Director of Amnesty International Ghana Lawrence Amesu is barbaric and criminal, warranting an immediate arrest.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection has filed a police report against the founder and General Overseer of the International God’s Way Church, Bishop Daniel Obinim, over the church flogging incident.
The sector minister announced on Thursday that her ministry has filed the report at the Accra Regional Domestic Violence and Victim Support Unit (DOVVSU) Office for investigations to be conducted into the incident.
But Oppong Brenya stated that Bishop Obinim is ready to face anybody who attempts to take him on for his actions. According to him, Obinim committed no crime and finds it unnecessary the criticisms from Ghanaians.
Oppong Brenya also added that the church members were happy Obinim disciplined the children in public and have promised to bring their children to be punished when they go wrong.
He added that anybody who has issues with Obinim’s style should petition God and not the court.
“If someone thinks Obinim erred Biblically then that person should petition God.”
General News of Thursday, 18 August 2016
General News of Thursday, 18 August 2016
Ghana Police raid Angel TV over illegal airing of Euro 2016 matches
The recent increase in TV stations in Ghana and limited content has in the last few years led to an increase in the abuse of content rights by a number of TV stations.
This has led to loss of revenue to the audio visual creative industry and the many TV stations who have continuously invested in their people and content, and loss of tax revenue to the government from the illegal activities of these TV stations.
The Communications Fraud Unit of the Ghana Police, CID Headquarters recently raided the Angel TV studios for infringing on the sports content rights of Supersport.
The raid was conducted based on leads provided by Multichoice Ghana Ltd.
Angel TV which came into business a few years ago, has been alleged to be illegally airing EURO 2016 Games and the on-going Rio 2016 Olympics Games without the required rights for Ghana. During the operation, the Police seized gadgets/devices used in perpetrating this illegality.
The rights to these major sports meets (Rio Olympics, Premier League and La Liga) are currently exclusively held by Supersport Africa and distributed by Multichoice Ghana through DStv and GOtv platforms.
5 in critical condition, 16 injured in Donkorkrom police shootout
Scores of residents of Donkorkrom in the Eastern region sustained varying degrees of injury after police reportedly fired into demonstrators there.
Five out of the injured persons are in critical condition and have been rushed to the Presbyterian Hospital at Donkorkrom, Joy FM’s regional correspondent, Kofi Siaw reported.
The residents claimed they had marched to the police station to present a petition over recent robbery incidents in the area but things turned ugly when jittery police officers started shooting into the crowds.
Thursday’s chaotic incidents followed an armed robbery incident involving two policemen and a civilian who allegedly attacked a GCB bullion pick-up van and shot the driver dead and injured another policeman on Tuesday, August 16 near Forifori in the Kwahu Afram Plains South District.
The three suspects were arrested but the two policemen among them escaped while they were being transported to Koforidua on Wednesday August 17.
The residents suspected foul play, accusing the police of allowing the police men to escape only to keep the civilian in custody.
Through the efforts of the residents, one of the escaped suspects, Corporal Kissi Abrokwa was rearrested at Nkawkaw and is currently with the Nkawkaw Command.
The robbery, escape of the police suspects were part of the petition the residents presented to the police on Thursday August 18 in which they claimed “that the three arrested persons did not operate alone and demanded proper investigations to be conducted.”
According to Joy News’ Kofi Siaw, the police indicated that they had information that the residents would attack the Donkorkrom police station on Thursday.
They opened fire on the residents when they arrived at the Police Station, injuring 16 of them in the process, the Assembly man of Donkorkrom, Shaibu Mohammed claimed.
The residents in retaliation headed to the police barracks destroyed some properties, set it ablaze and allegedly prevented the fire service from dousing the fire.
Kofi Siaw reported that the residents have mounted roadblocks to prevent the police from entering towns in the area to restore calm.
Residents set Donkorkrom police station on fire
Irate residents of Donkorkrom in the Afram Plains North district of the Eastern region have set the police station there on fire over clashes with the law enforcement body.
The locals clashed with police personnel Thursday as they demonstrate over the escape of two police officers and one other in an operation to rob a GCB Bank bullion van at Maame Krobo.
Five people are reported injured in the melee and have since been rushed to the Donkorkrom Presbyterian Hospital for treatment.
The suspects escaped while they were being transported to Nkawkaw from the scene of the incident.
Meanwhile, reports reaching Starr News have it that one of the three escapees Lance Corporal Kusi Abrokwah has been re-arrested at Nkawkaw.
In a related development, the Police in Tease in the Afram Plains South district have evacuated the area following threats on their lives from furious residents over the same issue.
The irate residents have also threatened to set the police station ablaze if the suspects are not rearrested immediately. They are also demanding that government transfers all the officers at the station.
Background The suspects were arrested Tuesday evening after the attack on the bullion van led to the death of the vehicle driver while a Police officer escorting the vehicle was also wounded.
The armed robbers attacked the GCB Bank bullion van at Maame Krobo in the Affram Plains South district of the Eastern region, killing the driver of the van.
The heinous incident reportedly occurred on Monday morning at about 10:30am. The robbers fled into the bush after the attack, Afram Plains district commander Superintendent Obeng Dompreh told Starrfmonline.com.
He said the robbers could not succeed with their operation as a result of a gun battle with the police officer on board the vehicle.
After thorough investigations, two Police officers known as Kissi and Fire and a mechanic were arrested for their involvement in the robbery incident.
Bishop Obinim whips teenage members for fornication
Controversial man of God and founder of the International God’s Way Church, Bishop Daniel Obinim, has sparked another controversy after he was captured in a video whipping teenage church members he accused of sleeping around.
In one instance, a lady in the 3-minute video, was seen wailing after being subjected to inhumane treatment by the supposed Man of God who is believed to be thriving on series of controversies recently.
It is unclear which part of the bible justifies the conduct of Bishop Obinim who used a black leather belt severely beating the poor congregants until the female sought refuge in Florence Obinim, but assistant went for her and handed her over to his boss.
Another young man was equally not spared the torture of Bishop Daniel Obinim who has always found justification for whatever he does.
General News of Wednesday, 17 August 2016
Even NDC is tired of Mahama’s lies – John Boadu
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has said the exodus of supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) from the stands of the Cape Coast Stadium as President John Dramani Mahama delivered a speech at the party’s recently held campaign launch signifies that followers of the NDC are no more interested in deceit.
NPP’s acting General Secretary John Boadu, who addressed a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Accra on Wednesday August 17, said: “We saw vivid pictures of the delegates emptying the stadium in the middle of the president’s empty speech. It symbolises the fact that Ghanaians are no longer prepared to listen to the lies, propaganda and deceit of the empty promises.”
“Eight years of waiting in vain for the better Ghana that was promised has finally had a toll on the NDC members themselves”, Mr. Boadu added.
The NDC, as part of preparations for the December 2016 polls, officially launched its campaign on Sunday, August 14, at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium during which several party functionaries addressed supporters numbering about 40,000.
There was an exodus of supporters from the venue as the President crowned the event with his speech. Reports quickly emerged that the desertion of the stadium was a veiled protest against Mr. Mahama’s unconvincing governance and lack of attention to the welfare of party foot soldiers. Party officials subsequently explained that the supporters left the stadium because they had been called to start boarding their respective buses to be ferried home safely.
Presidential pardon not an affront to Judiciary – Martin Amidu
Former Attorney General Martin Amidu has challenged claims that granting a presidential pardon to the Montie three will be disrespectful to the judiciary.
According to him, if that argument were to hold, then every other pardon granted by the President will constitute a disregard to the courts.
“In my respectful view the most objective justification for the exercise of the power of mercy in this case is that the Court by adopting an unconstitutional procedure in convicting and imprisoning the contemnors, in one fell swoop, deprived them of any right of an appeal or a review of the decision of the Court,” the anti-corruption campaigner argued in a statement.
He continued: “As for the argument that it will be an interference with the independence of the judiciary to grant any pardon, I will like the proponents of that doctrine to tell the whole world which exercise of the President’s powers of pardon cannot be said to be an interference with judicial independence in the sense that it pardons convictions and/or sentences already imposed in exercise of the Court’s judicial power. That is why it is a prerogative of mercy!”.
The three contemnors, Salifu Maase, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn were handed a four-month jail term after they were found guilty of contempt by the Supreme Court.
Several ministers have called on the President to activate article 72 of the constitution and pardon them.
Below are details of the statement by Martin Amidu
MONTIE FM CRIMINAL CONTEMPT – MARTIN AMIDU’S TAKE
I read pieces of what has now become popularly known as the Montie 3 contempt of court contempt proceedings, convictions, and sentencing ruling and decision or orders on the web – particularly the Ghana Web. True to my self- imposed embargo upon the demise of my dear mother on 6th March 2016 to mourn her and stay out of the eyes of the media for some time, I defied the temptations put on my path by media houses and fellow citizens insisting on hearing my comment or urging me to proffer my written views on those proceedings. I excused myself with not having read the sentencing ruling and decision of the Supreme Court. A contemporary of mine at Law School and in Government baited me by e-mailing to me scanned certified true copies of both the sentencing ruling and decision with the request that I acquaint him with my opinion of the case after I had read it. This paper is the result of that understanding.
I have consequently read a certified true copy of the sentencing ruling, and the decision in the Owners of the Station Montie FM criminal contempt of court case and come to the considered conclusion that it raises several issues of constitutional, professional, and public importance. It is beyond argument that the Supreme Court is clothed with the power to commit for contempt of itself under the 1992 Constitution. But the same Constitution enjoins the Supreme Court to exercise all its powers in accordance with the due process of law and to respect the fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed under it.
I take the humble view that even though the courts’ powers for committing for contempt of themselves have often been described as almost arbitrary, that may only approximate the truth when one is dealing with contempt committed in facie curiae – in the face of the court or in court, so to speak – to be dealt with on the spot. However, when the contempt is a criminal contempt committed ex facie curiae (out of Court) the Court has no power or authority under the fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed by 1992 Constitution to proceed as the complainant, prosecutor, judge and jury in its own cause. The trial must be adversarial and comply with due the process of law of a fair trial. The inquisitorial Star Chambers method of ancient Britain by which the accused were brought before and tried by the Court was clearly inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 12, 14(1), 19(2)©(d)(g) (10) and (18), 21(1)(a), and 33(5) of the 1992 Constitution.
I came to the conclusion that the lawyers for the accused persons did not help the Court and the accused persons when they failed or refused to raise all the constitutional and legal defences against the charges and arraignment processes. They led their all trusting clients to the Court to plead guilty to the alleged charges of criminal contempt only to turn round to criticize the Court for interfering with the contemnors’ right to free speech because of the magnitude of the sentences imposed by the Court. I also take the further view that if the lawyers for the accused persons had insisted on the constitutional rights of the accused person to a fair trial throughout the proceedings the situation where the ambiguous 1st contemnor called “Owners of the Station – Montie FM” was transformed into Network Broadcasting Company Limited, and Zee Zee Media Limited and each director and officer of the corporate persons hauled individually, arraigned and personally convicted in addition to the conviction of each company would have been avoided.
THE LAWYER’S RESPONSIBILITY TO THE ACCUSED AND TO THE COURT
It does not appear from the sentencing ruling of the Supreme Court that the lawyers for the accused contemnors raised any preliminary objection, at the arraignment of the accused to plead to the criminal contempt charges, to the lack of constitutional jurisdiction in the Court to try the accused persons inquisitorially. The lawyer’s responsibility to the court and to his client is to put up all the best objections and defences for his client. The Court could have been persuaded that the non-adversarial manner by which it had brought the contemnors to the Court was inconsistent with the fundamental human rights and freedoms guaranteed by Chapter 5 of the 1992 Constitution, particularly Articles 12, 14(1), 19(2)©(d)(g) (10) and (18), 21(1)(a), and 33(5) thereof.
The outline of the argument could have been that the process by which the contemnors were brought to the Court deprived them of their right to a fair trial under Article 19 of the Constitution as the process adopted by the Court presumed them guilty contrary to clause 2(c) thereof which enjoins that he “be presumed to be innocent until he is proved or has pleaded guilty”. It could also have been contended that the summary manner the Court was proceeding was depriving the contemnors of their constitutional right to be informed in detail of the nature of the offence charged and consequently being deprived of adequate time and facilities for the preparation of their defence contrary to sub-clauses (d), (e), and (g) of Article 19(2) thereof. It could further have been submitted to the Court that the manner it was proceeding summarily in the criminal contempt by calling upon the contemnors to show cause why they should not be committed for criminal contempt of court offends Article 19(10) which enjoins that: “No person who is tried for a criminal offence shall be compelled to give evidence at the trial”. The Court could have been reminded that Article 19(12) of the 1992 Constitution makes only one exception for the Court when trying criminal contempt of court by excluding only the application of Article 19(11) which requires that: “no person shall be convicted for a criminal offence unless the offence is defined and the penalty for it prescribed in a written law.” It would have been obvious to the Court that if the framers of the Constitution had intended the courts to try offences of criminal contempt inquisitorially contrary to the other guaranteed fair trial clauses of Article 19 of the Constitution they would have specifically said so in Article 19(12).
The foregoing submission could have been inextricably interwoven with submissions on the guaranteed freedom of speech and expression which includes the freedom of the press and other media under Article 21(1)(a) of the Constitution. It could have also been contended that the inquisitorial approach of the discredited Star Chambers of old in punishing non-adversarially for criminal contempt have not only be discarded in all civilized democratic countries but that Articles 12 and 33(5) of the Constitution enjoins the Supreme Court of Ghana to protect, defend and guarantee the rights, duties, declarations, and guarantees not specifically mentioned which are considered to be inherent in a democracy and intended to secure the freedom and dignity of man”.
It could have been submitted with the aid of decided cases (including the Supreme Court’s Republic v Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu & 2 Others: Ex Parte Attorney-General [1995-96] 1 GLR 377) that even the Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence which we inherited has long considered prosecutions for criminal contempt as being inconsistent with rights inherent in a democracy let alone an inquisitorial approach long discarded by our colonial masters who introduced us to it. In accordance with the doctrine of judicial precedent the case of the Republic v Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu alone would have provided material on which to anchor strong constitutional and legal arguments why the procedure by which the contemnors were brought to the Court was unconstitutional and inconsistent with the Court’s jurisdiction under the Constitution. The case of the Republic v Liberty Press Ltd & 28 Others  GLR 123 could also have been persuasive. These are examples of ex facie contempt tried adversarially and not inquisitorially.
The Liberty Press Ltd case upon which the Supreme Court apparently relied in formulating parts of its sentencing ruling and the binding Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu case, which the Court overlooked, show that the trial of any charge of criminal contempt of court partakes of the same characteristics as the trial of any other criminal offences with the prosecution having the burden of proving the guilt of the accused persons beyond a reasonable doubt including all the presumptions of innocence etc. These cases would have been helpful in formulating the submission to the Court as a preliminary objection to the inquisitorial summons by which the contemnors or the accused persons were brought before the Court.
In the very scheme of our Constitution, the Court would have been compelled to decide the preliminary objection to the inquisitorial procedure adopted to try the contemnors for the offences charged. The beauty of our judicial process is that the Court even if it overruled all the preliminary objections would have been compelled to assign considered reasons for rejecting them. The ruling or judgment will be a public testament of the Court’s decision in such important Constitutional and democratic matters to which the justices will eternally be judged. No court or judge wants to be associated with indefensible rulings touching the fundamental rights and freedoms in democracies such as ours. Both the legal arguments or submissions, and the court’s ruling act as a restraining factor on the contempt of court powers which have already been recognized as being arbitrary.
The lawyers in Liberty Press Ltd, and Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu knew this and took their chances and even though the accused in the Liberty Press Ltd case later changed their pleas to guilty and those in the Mensa-Bonsu case eventually lost the trial the public and the legal profession will continue to judge the conduct of the justices in those cases. The preliminary objection to the procedure and the charge of criminal contempt has nothing to do with the guilt or innocence of the contemnors. The accused person had a constitutional right to challenge the Republic in whose name the crime of criminal contempt was being prosecuted by the trial court on its own motion to prove his guilt adversarially and beyond a reasonable doubt. The lawyers unfortunately failed or refused to discharge their responsibilities to the accused persons and to the Court.
THE RULING AND SENTENCING DECISIONS OF THE COURT
The contempt for which the accused persons were hauled to the Court was committed ex facie curiae – out of court. I was consequently interested in the title of the criminal contempt case. Contempt of scandalizing the court with which the accused persons were charged is a criminal offence and like all criminal offences must under Article 88 of the Constitution be prosecuted in the name of the Republic and by the Attorney-General or any other person authorized by him in accordance with law. But because the Court had assumed the arbitrary power of being the complainant, prosecutor, and judge in its own cause the title of the case was Abu Ramadan, Evans Nimako vrs. 1. Electoral Commission 2. The Attorney General, In Re: 1. The Owners of the Station – Montie FM, 2. Salifu Maase @ Mugabe (3) Alistair Nelson (4) Godwin Ako Gunn as though the criminal contempt was committed in facie curiae.
In the Republic v. Liberty Press Ltd & 28 Others  GLR 123 and Republic v Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu & 2 Others both of which were ex facie curiae contempt, the prosecution for contempt was initiated and conducted by the Attorney General in the High Court and the Supreme Court respectively and gave the accused persons the right to a fair trial. The reason why the appropriate procedure promotes fairness and justice was aptly indicated in the ruling of Akufo-Addo CJ (as he then was) sitting as an additional High Court judge as follows:
“In so far as my decision embodies any general conclusions affecting the jurisdiction of the courts in contempt matters, it is referable only to contempt ex facie curiae (out of court) as distinct from contempt in facie curiae which is always dealt with “on the spot,” so to speak, without any intervention of the Attorney-General applying for a writ of attachment.”
The Supreme Court in Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu underscored the difference between contempt in the face of the court and the prosecution of ex facie criminal contempt of court cases and arrived at the same conclusion. Regrettably such an important issue was not raised by the accused persons as a preliminary point to jurisdiction at their arraignment. And as the ruling shows the Court was exasperated by the Attorney-General’s lack of responsiveness to the execution of her constitutional duties that it decided unwittingly to treat the matter as though the contempt was committed in court and was being dealt with ‘“on the spot” so to speak’.
In the rulings in Liberty Press Ltd, and Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu the rulings adequately state not only the charges but also in detail the particularly of the charges faced by the accused persons. The sentencing ruling in the Owners of the Station – Montie FM case does not state the particulars (let alone in detail) of the nature of the offences charged, to have enabled the accused persons to have known the details of their crime to enable them plead knowingly to the charges. It only states that they were brought before the court for contempt of court on three grounds namely”: (a) Scandalizing the court (b) Defying and lowering the authority of this court and (3) Bringing the authority of this court into disrepute.” What is stated as three separate offences are not mutually exclusive offences one of the other and without detailed particulars accompanying each offence the charges were on their face bad for duplicity and also inconsistent with Article 19 of the 1992 Constitution on fair trial.
Reading the sentencing ruling of the Court one gets the impression that the summons for the accused persons and the directors and officers of the two corporations to appear before the Court to answer the allegations of criminal contempt did not contain particulars of the contumacious words, the date and the venue at which they were spoken or broadcast so as to enable the accused persons to be informed in detail of the nature of the offences charged in accordance with Article 19(2)(e) of the Constitution. The lack of particulars of the crime to the accused persons is brought out in the ruling when the Court stated that it was shocked and saddened to hear each of the directors “as well as their Company Secretary say that, until a recording of the offending programme was played in Court they had not listened to nor heard the reprehensible utterances…, despite the fact that, for a couple of weeks both the print media and radio stations had been full of discussions of the diatribe that was aired by their station, Montie FM.”
Far from being an indictment on the accused persons it demonstrates that they were arbitrarily hauled before the Court without any semblance of the due process of law in criminal justice administration as mandated by the Constitution. Their criminal charges were clearly bad for lack of particulars at arraignment. It follows from the foregoing that the constitutional rights of the accused person under Article 19(2)(e) of the Constitution enjoining the Court that the accused “be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence” was also violated.
Owners of the Station Montie FM not legal persons for personal service of chargs
The first contemnor in the Montie case is called: “Owners of the Station – Montie FM” and not even simply “Montie FM”. It is trite learning that because criminal contempt can be proceeded against only natural or legal persons as defined in our laws the names of each of the accused persons must be specifically and unambiguously stated in each count and detailed particulars of the charge provided to the accused. It is also trite law that in criminal contempt proceedings each accused person must be served personally with the summons, motion or process to appear before the court.
The name “Owners of the Station – Montie FM” is not the name or names of any person who could have been served personally with the summons or processes for criminal contempt ordered by the court which was making its own complaint, prosecuting same, judging same and being jury for same. How parties are summoned to a court is as important, and part and parcel of the delivery of justice under our constitutional protection of human rights and freedoms binding upon the Court.
The Court recognized in its ruling that there were no natural or legal persons called Owners of the Station – Montie FM upon whom service of the notices or summons for contempt could have been personally served. This was why the ruling of the Court states that “the court summoned the directors and secretary of Network Broadcasting Co. Ltd because, as owners of Motie FM, the company provided the physical facilities for the contemptuous statement to be aired to the public” and it is the directors and officers who answer for it when it is held in contempt. The Court then states the fact that for an unincorporated body the members of the body answer for it. The Court supports its conclusions as follows:
“Hence in the case of the Republic v. Liberty Press Ltd (supra), it was the Managing Director of the Liberty Press Ltd, the printer and 28 professors and lecturer who were members of ‘Legon Society on National Affairs’, publishers of Legon Observer, who answered for the publication in that magazine that scandalized the judiciary.
That is what happened in Liberty Press Ltd with the difference that each of the 28 professors who were members of the unincorporated “Legon Society on National Affairs” were specifically named and served personally with the criminal contempt process – the pursuant notices – to each appear to answer the charges against them. The Managing Director of Liberty Press Ltd represented the legal person Liberty Press Ltd and not each of the directors and officers of Liberty Press Ltd under the name “Owners of the Printing Press – Liberty Press Limited”.
A careful reading of the ruling of the Supreme Court in Owners of the Station – Montie FM leaves one in no doubt that the Network Broadcasting Co. Lt. or another limited liability company called Zee Zee Media Ghana Ltd referred to in the ruling were never served personally with any processes for criminal contempt of court to commence any contempt proceedings against them. One walks away with the unavoidable impression that when the Supreme Court decided to summon the suspects called Owners of the Station – Montie FM before it, the Court did not even know the legal status of Montie FM or the specific identity of its owners and therefore resorted to the arbitrary power of fishing at large for whosever would be caught by the phraseology the Owners of the Station – Montie FM. It then discovers that two limited liability companies – Network Broadcasting Co. Ltd or another limited liability company called Zee Zee Media Ghana Ltd own the physical infrastructure and frequency respectively.
The Court then proceeds to summon the Secretaries and directors of the two companies without apparently first formally summoning and serving the two companies in name as accused contemnors. Such fishing by the Court for evidence of identity of the accused persons is clearly unconstitutional.
The ruling cites Liberty Press Ltd as an example and to justify the manner it summoned the Secretaries and Directors of Network Broadcasting Co. Ltd and Zee Zee Media Ghana Ltd to appear before it. Unfortunately the analogy flies in the face of reason. In Liberty Press Ltd on which the Court relied for its propositions of law the Managing Director is the only person stated in the report of that ruling to have represented the company. It is axiomatic that once there was a Managing Director the company also had a Board of Directors and other officers but they were not summoned as it was superfluous for them to appear before the court individually and personally to answer the company’s charges of criminal contempt.
Harry Zakour is recorded on the sentencing decision of the Court made on 27th July 2016 as present for 1st Contemnors – “The Owners of the Station – Montie FM”. The Supreme Court both in the sentencing ruling and decision recognize that: “It is trite law that where a corporation is held in contempt of court, it is the directors and officers who answer for it, since they constitute the human face of the legal entity…” and consequently made the following orders in respect of Network Broadcasting Company Limited and Zee Zee Media Ltd:
“3. Network Broadcasting Company Limited and Zee Zee Media Ltd are each hereby ordered to pay a fine of GH30, 000.00 by close of 28th July 2016. The officers of Network Broadcasting Company Limited and Zee Zee Media Ghana Ltd shall be respectively held personally liable to imprisonment for any failure to comply with any of these orders.”
The second sentence in the decision or order No. 3 is superfluous because it merely states what the law in respect of the liability of all corporations for contempt is. But the person convicted is the company as the decision of the Court shows.
It is also trite law that incorporated companies in contempt of court are fined and not imprisoned because the artificial legal person represented by the company is a notional concept and not physically available for imprisonment. But it is also trite law that whosoever pleads to a charge of contempt of court on behalf of such a legal person does so with proper authority to represent the company. A corollary of the trite law referred to by the Court is that the legal person in contempt is the company and not its officers who are only vicariously liable for paying the fines or going to prison on behalf of the company. From the Supreme Court’s own statement of the law in Liberty Press Co Ltd the directors and officers of a company are not personally the contemnors as was the case with the unincorporated “Legon Society on National Affairs” where each of the 28 professors and lecturers who were its members were individually charged and pleaded to the charge in person and were individually convicted. The position would have been the same even if Montie FM was said to be an unincorporated body. The corporations and not its officers individually would still be the owners. Consequently, any disclosure in the record of proceedings in Owners of the Station – Montie FM showing that each of the directors and officers of the corporations were individually summoned by the Court and forced to each plead to the charges against the corporation in person and each convicted is clearly a violation of statement of the trite law by the Court and also of the 1992 Constitution.
Ato Ahwoi the Endnote
The foregoing analysis and statement of the triteness of the law by the Court itself on this matter is what makes it absurd that the sentencing decision of the Supreme Court has an end note stating that one of the Directors of the 1st Contemnor in the person of Mr. Ato Ahwoi, who was absent on the days the matter was heard, appeared and pleaded liable with explanation. Mr. Ato Ahwoi by the Court’s own statement of the law is a director of Network Broadcasting Company Limited, a legal person in its own right. Without any evidence that the company was properly served with contempt proceedings, an authorized representative of the company had already appeared before the Court and pleaded on behalf of the company upon which the company had already been convicted. After the conclusion of the sentencing the Network Broadcasting Company Limited and the other contemnors for criminal contempt of court, the Court is informed that one of the directors who was absent from the jurisdiction is in court in obedience to an order or request by the court that all directors of the company should appear before the Court apparently so that they will know how the legal person they collectively represent is to be dealt with.
Without further ado the Court takes the plea of Mr. Ato Ahwoi, a director of the already convicted and sentenced Network Broadcasting Company Limited without any record that the charges were read and explained to him. There is also no record in the end notes which represents the record of proceedings on this director, Mr. Ahwoi, to show that he was represented by a lawyer or that he had opted to represent himself in person. He pleads guilty with explanation.
At worst this plea of guilty with explanation on the triteness of the law was being entered by Mr. Ato Ahwoi on behalf of the Network Broadcasting Company Limited which had already been convicted and sentenced before he was called upon in the “end note” to plead again to an offence which had already been dealt with. The Court without giving any reasons why the explanation of Mr. Ato Ahwoi constitutes an unequivocal plea of guilty convicts him in the following words: “By Court: Mr. Ato Ahwoi is hereby convicted on all the charges on his own plea of liability.”
The purported conviction of Mr. Ato Ahwoi as a director for an offence which the limited liability company in which he is a director had already been convicted and sentenced to a fine of GH30,000. 00 is a fundamental error of law that has occasioned a grave miscarriage of justice to him. The triteness of this law is that once the trial, conviction and sentencing of the Network Broadcasting Company Limited had been completed the Network Broadcasting Company Limited could not under Article 19(7) of the 1992 Constitution be charged with the same offences again. It follows that Mr. Ato Ahwoi who was merely one of the directors of the company benefits from the immunity acquired by the company and could not also be tried personally for the same offence a second time.
Regrettably, and unfortunately, because the Supreme Court choose to prosecute and judge a contempt ex facie curiae by itself, it unwittingly failed to allow Mr. Ato Ahwoi the basic right to a lawyer before taking his plea, follow the due process of law, and convicted him when it should have been trite that he was being put in double jeopardy for the same offence after the earlier conviction and sentencing of the company for which he is director. It is instructive that after purporting to convict Mr. Ato Ahwoi, the Court found itself unable to sentence him personally for the alleged criminal contempt of court. The purported arraignment and personal conviction of Mr. Ahwoi as a director of the company in addition to the earlier conviction of the company itself was inconsistent with and in contravention of Article 19(7) of the 1992 Constitution.
Precedent of the Presidential Election Petition – Contempt Convictions
There are those who would be tempted to raise the issue of the purported convictions for criminal contempt in the Presidential Elections Petition of persons from the two largest political parties in Ghana as precedent for the Court’s procedure in this case as well. My answer to them is that if those proceedings also suffered from the same violations of the 1992 Constitution as I have demonstrated in this paper then those convictions were inconsistent with provisions of the Constitution and also void. In this regard the wisdom contained in the dissenting opinion of the late eminent and very distinguished Supreme Court Judge, Mr. Justice Adade, in Bilson v Apaloo  GLR 24 at 69-70, comes to mind. He said that:
“….But it is said that the Court of Appeal has been sitting five all the time, and no one has raised a finger. That does not mean that a finger can never be raised. It has been raised now, and we cannot force it down. If in my reckoning, an error was committed then, there is no reason why that error should be perpetuated simply because it has been done with impunity in the past. “Public policy and commonsense” pleaded by the defendant, cannot be suffered to oust the operation of what, in my view, are the clear prescription of constitutional provision.”
I say also that in so far as the Supreme Court did not avert its mind to the constitutional standards laid down in the criminal contempt case of Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu on the procedure and burden of proof for the criminal contempt of scandalizing the court, the ruling in the Owners of the Station – Montie FM case was rendered in disregard of the Courts own previous and binding decision. In accordance with Article 129(3) of the Constitution the ruling in the Owners of the Station – Montie FM was given per incuriam and consequently void under the Constitution.
The Common law Tradition
I wrote a case review in the 1989-90 Review of Ghana, at pages 317-337 on Bail in Murder Cases in which I argued that the prohibition allegedly imposed by section 96(7)(a) of Act 30 on the granting of bail to accused persons in murder and related offences were unconstitutional and void under the 1979 Constitution, and could not have been revived by the abrogation of that Constitution. The Supreme Court came to the same conclusion this year in Martin Kpebu v Attorney-General, 5th May 2016, several years after my case comment.
What I said in that case comment defending the liberty of the individual to a fair trial seems appropriate even today to bear repetition. I wrote amongst other things that:
‘….It would be a sad day in the legal history of Anglo-Ghanaian jurisprudence when the liberty of the individual becomes a clarion call for anarchy or a means of seeking judicial self-glorification per se. Mr. Justice Cardozo’s admonishment to judges of the common law tradition not to be knight-errants ought to be remembered by all those whose business is to judge. In pointing out the difference between “le phenomine Magnaud” and justice according to law he said:
“The judge, even when he is free, is still not wholly free. He is not to innovate at pleasure. He is not a knight-errant, roaming at will in pursuit of his own ideals of beauty or goodness. He is to draw his inspiration from consecrated principles. He is not to yield to spasmodic sentiments, to vague and unregulated benevolence. He is to exercise his discretion informed by tradition, methodized by analogy, disciplined by system, and subordinated to the ‘premodial necessity of order in social life’”.
THE PREROGATIVE OF MERCY – PRESIDENTIAL PARDON
I find the immediate resort by the lawyers for the contemnors to petitioning the President for pardon for the contemnors revolting having regard to the context of the case, the background of the contemnors, and their association with the Government of the day. It embarrasses and encumbers the Presidential power of mercy which he may exercise in respect of any conviction for crime including the offences constituting criminal contempt of court after consultation with the Council of State.
As for the argument that it will be an interference with the independence of the judiciary to grant any pardon, I will like the proponents of that doctrine to tell the whole world which exercise of the President’s powers of pardon cannot be said to be an interference with judicial independence in the sense that it pardons convictions and/or sentences already imposed in exercise of the Court’s judicial power. That is why it is a prerogative of mercy! : to “grant to a person convicted of an offence a pardon”…. Etc.
Anybody acquainted with the judicial process should know that there have been instances in which courts themselves have invited the President to consider exercising his powers of mercy by pardoning the convicted. It will be an insult to the integrity, professionalism and maturity of our judicial system to say that the Court will be offended by any exercise of the powers of mercy by the President, simply because the conviction was for contempt of the court.
The advocates against the exercise of the President’s powers of mercy in the Owners of the Station – Montie FM case may be ignorant of the fact that various Presidents under the 1992 Constitution have in the past exercised the power of pardon in favour of some convicted criminal contemnors whose cases arose from or as a result of constitutional litigation in the Supreme Court or other lower courts without any objection or bother from the judiciary. Why should the Owners of the Station – Montie FM case be an exception?
The problem is that most convictions and sentences for criminal contempt arising from or associated with the conduct of constitutional cases in the courts invariably take on a partisan political flavor in this country, let alone in an election year. A dispassionate observer will not fail to see that with a few exceptions the arguments for and against perceptions of fairness of how the Owners of the Station – Montie FM case were tried; and whether or not the President could consider exercising his power of mercy at any appropriate time of his choice has been clouded by political party interest with an eye towards campaign rhetoric’s for the coming elections.
In my respectful view the most objective justification for the exercise of the power of mercy in this case is that the Court by adopting an unconstitutional procedure in convicting and imprisoning the contemnors, in one fell swoop, deprived them of any right of an appeal or a review of the decision of the Court. The Court cannot be the Respondent in an application for review. It is also absurd to suggest that the Attorney-General who did not initiate or conduct the contempt prosecutions can now be a Respondent to a review application on their behalf. The matter is complicated by the fact that jailing the accused at the close of the legal year unwittingly ensures that any application brought on their behalf may not be heard until after the vacation in October by which time they might have served almost the whole term of imprisonment.
But as is usually the case with most constitutional conflicts with partisan political undertones timing in whatever a President does is important for purposes of managing perceptions and wounded feelings. The strategic resources at the disposal of every President are intended to guide him in taking decisions that meet his strategic vision for a nation and its public interest.
I take cognizance of the fact that the convicted and imprisoned accused contemnors were convicted upon their own plea of guilty. But as I have demonstrated herein those pleas were procured in contravention of the fundamental rights and freedoms, and other provisions of the 1992 Constitution.
I share all the sentiments expressed in Liberty Press Ltd, Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu and the sentencing ruling in Owners of the Station – Montie FM on the sanctity and respect to be accorded by the citizen to the judiciary and the individual judge. It was for some of these reasons that I initiated, and conducted in person as the then Deputy Attorney-General the Kwabena Mensa-Bonsu criminal contempt prosecution in accordance with the due process of law and secured convictions and sentences.
As the longest served former Deputy Attorney-General, and a former Attorney-General of Ghana, I have a history of ardently fighting against any attempt to bring the judiciary into contempt and disrepute in any form whatsoever. I believe that the Constitution mandates every citizen to defend the judiciary within its permissible prescriptions. The sentencing ruling and decision of the Owners of the Station – Montie FM case, however runs roughshod over the liberty of the individual under Chapter 5 of the Constitution. It is, therefore, with great reluctance that I write this considered paper in defence of the 1992 Constitution.
Martin A. B.K. Amidu
General News of Tuesday, 16 August 2016
Akufo-Addo slept on Western Region road tour – Mahama
President John Dramani Mahama kicked off his re-election campaign on Tuesday, promising accelerated development for the Western Region in his next term.
Urging the people of the region to continue to have faith in him, he said his government had laid a solid foundation for massive socio-economic development from 2017 and the Western Region would have its share.
President Mahama was addressing separate events at Axim, Abura and Agona Nkwanta.
The arrival of the President at Axim was characterised by a carnival reminiscent of his 2012 campaign tours.
At Axim, he spoke to the fishing community while he addressed supporters of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at whistle stops at Agona Nkwanta and Abura in the Ahanta West Constituency.
President Mahama will spend four days in the region to canvass for votes.
President Mahama said the region had benefitted from many socio-economic infrastructure projects in his first term, which had provided a solid foundation for massive development.
The President who is seeking a second term said during his 2012 election campaign, he realised roads in the Western Region were not good so he promised that when he was elected President, his government would invest heavily in the road sector of the region.
Today, he said, the Western region was the biggest beneficiary of the cocoa roads programme.
In health, education, water, electricity and other sectors, the President said appreciable work had been done in the region.
Reject the lies
He urged the people of the region to reject lies being spread about him and his government by the opposition.
Speaking in a mixture of Fante and Twi, the President said just recently the NPP flagbearer, Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was in the Western Region claiming that he did not see any good roads in the region.
Expressing disappointment about that statement, the President said, “Probably he was sleeping.”
Four more years
President Mahama said based on the work the government had done, it was natural that he was given the mandate to put on the superstructure.
He expressed the hope that Ghanaians would give the NDC another four years to complete the work the government had started.
The President said the NDC government’s commitment to the fishing industry was unquestionable.
He told the fisherfolks that more was in the pipeline to improve their work.
In the Ahanta West Constituency, he introduced the NDC parliamentary aspirant for the constituency, Mr George Aboagye to the gathering and urged the people to vote massively for him in the December election.
At Axim, the NDC parliamentary aspirant, Mr Kwaku Tanikyi was also introduced
Mahama is innocent; only four of us know what killed Mills – Allotey Jacobs
The cause of the sadden death of Late Professor John Evans Fifi Atta Mills has been a mystery perhaps to some of his family members and Ghanaians at large.
Majority of Ghanaians are yearning to know ‘exactly’ what killed the late president even though he appeared to be sick whiles in office.
The opposition New Patriotic Party [NPP] has over the years mounted pressure on government to make public the cause of President Mills’ death after alleging he was killed but government has been adamant to publish the cause of the late president’s death till now.
This has compelled some individuals to constantly barrage the NDC to produce a vivid detail of what killed the former president or who was behind his death if any.
These individuals during NDC’s campaign launch in the Central Regional capital, Cape Coast decorated streets with ‘attention-getting’ posters of late President Prof. John Evans Atta Mills with imprint “Who Killed Atta Mills?”
The black and red poster is designed with a picture of a ‘not so happy’ looking Mills and a shadow of an unknown person carrying a knife in an attempt to stab him [President Mills].
The opposition believed President Mahama who was then vice to Prof Mills must be interrogated for his former boss demise.
But Central Regional Chairman of the NDC, Mr. Allotey Jacobs says President Mahama is “innocent” and knows nothing about even the sickness which killed Prof. Mills.
He told NeatFM’s Akwasi Aboagye on his “Ghana Montie” show that only he (Allotey) together with three others have first-hand information about actually led to the death of the former president.
“Let me confirm this, we are just four people who knows about Professor Mills sickness. His two siblings [Dr. Cadman Atta Mills and Sammy Atta Mills], myself, and his long time bodyguard, Mr. ASP Adadei. Prof Mills was dear to our hearts, he shared his frustration, sickness and development with us [the four]”
“We knew the man very well and he knew us. Prof Mills once visited me at in apartment late-night when I was sick, we cried and we prayed together. People don’t know about this so they just get up and malign innocent people in this country”
“…What at all has President Mahama done? What sin has he committed? Just because God as anointed him to be president?” he quizzed
“Those doing that are just hurting the family [Mills family]. The man is dead and gone. Curse will be upon those behind this [he accused the NPP]. Death will run through their camp” he added
General News of Wednesday, 10 August 2016
Nobody can stop Mahama’s one-touch victory – Omane Boamah
Communications Minister Dr Edward Omane Boamah is optimistic President John Mahama is heading for a one-touch victory in the 2016 elections due to his remarkable record.
A very spirited Dr. Boamah declared that “no man or woman or animal” can stop his boss from retaining the seat being contested by over five others.
Speaking on Wednesday at the maiden Zongo Youth conference in the Eastern region, Dr Boamah exclaimed: “I am positive, beyond reasonable doubt that the enthusiasm that we have seen here… no man, no woman, no animal will stop president John Dramani Mahama of winning a one-touch victory in the 2016 elections.”
A very hopeful Dr Boamah stressed that the ruling National Democratic Congress will retain its seven seats in the Eastern region and will add to them come December 7.
Meanwhile, the Center for Democratic Development (CDD) has revealed in a survey that 70 percent of Ghanaians believe that the Ghanaian economy is headed the wrong direction, adding that nearly half of the populace approved of the president’s leadership skills and performance.
But speaking at the same forum, a deputy General Secretary of the NDC Koku Anyidohu said the policy think-tank is an appendage of the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) hence supporters of the party should rubbish its recent report.
He said the report is just a damage control scheme to cover up Nana Akufo-Addo’s mess and Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia in recent times.
Over 2000 Zongo youth attended the conference organized by the NDC as part of its strategy towards the Agenda 50/50 feat.
EC drops Ghanaian IT firm for e-transmission of results
Persol Systems, the only fully owned-Ghanaian IT firm among five shortlisted companies hoping to electronically transmit election results in the December 7 polls, has been dropped at the last hour by the Electoral Commission (EC).
The country’s election management body on Wednesday commenced at its headquarters, the process for the proposed Electronic Results Transmission System (ERTS) ahead the 2016 general election without the Ghanaian company.
Information gathered by ghelections.com, indicates that Persol Systems, Scytl and Smartmatic were the final three companies shortlisted to demonstrate their capabilities to electronically transmit collation center results in the December 7 polls.
But today’s exercise took off with only two foreign companies, Scytl and Smartmatic, making presentations to EC’s tender committee, political parties and civil society groups in attendance. One of the two selected foreign companies is allegedly being fronted by a Ghanaian who is associated with those controlling the levers of powers.
The demonstration exercise, according to ghelections.com’s sources, will end on Friday August 12, 2016, with the winner of the bid expected to sign a contract with the EC on the e-transmission of election results on Monday August 15, 2016.
Controversy over e-transmission of results
The opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) had kicked against the electronic mode of transmission of the election results.
NPP contended that the e-transmission of results should not be adopted in Ghana because the process had failed some countries including Kenya, Ecuador and Mexico.
According to the party’s 2016 Campaign Manager, Peter Mac Manu, the e-transmission process fails to address the critical challenges that the election reform process seeks to overcome.
He further argued that there is no law which gives the EC the power to electronically transfer results. “The E-transmission of results does not in any way control the abuse of the electoral process. It does not address foreign ballots and it is an after the fact process.
If there are only 800 voters on the register how will the system prevent transmission of results cast in excess of that number? If the EC was really serious about transmission of results, it should have backed that with legislation. No constitutional instrument supports this radical shift. There is no law which gives EC the mandate to electronically transmit results. Nothing in the law before Parliament makes mention of it.”
EC, NDC disagree with NPP
But the EC and the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC), have rejected NPP’s claim, stating that the decision to use the ERTS for the 2016 elections was endorsed by the main opposition party.
Supporting EC’s position, the NDC General Secretary, Johnson Asiedu Nketia at a news conference on Wednesday August 3, said the NPP was fully aware of the decision to transmit the results electronically, because the decision came up at an IPAC meeting.
Although 7 out of 10 Ghanaians say the country is heading in the wrong direction, President Mahama got a higher approval rating, a Center for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) survey has revealed.
In the study, 48% of respondents approve of the president’s management of the country while a percent less (47%) believes he has got it wrong as his first-term comes to an end in December.
Senior Research Fellow at CDD, Dr. Kojo Pumpuni Asante explained on the Joy FM’s Super Morning Show Wednesday, it could be the case “somebody’s economy may be very bad but he just likes the president”.
He, however, quickly pointed out that this view needed to be extrapolated from other variables in the research, something he hadn’t done yet.
The survey is the latest feedback gleaned from 2,400 adult Ghanaians who were nationally represented in the sample selected to answer the about a 100 questions.
The survey, which was conducted by the Centre for Democratic Development (CDD-Ghana) and covered the period of July 2 to 18, painted the disillusionment of Ghanaians regarding the overall management of the economy.
According to the report, government “receives poor grades from a clear majority of Ghanaians across a range of micro-indicators – narrowing income gaps, keeping prices down, creating jobs, improving the living standard of the poor and managing the economy.”
Pumpuni said the responses should be taken at face value because more analysis needs to be done before any conclusive statements can be made from the survey.
General News of Tuesday, 9 August 2016
Mahama’s leadership skills made me NDC – Oye Lithur
The Gender and Social protection minister, Nana Oye Lithur has revealed that she is now a member of the ruling party, NDC.
President John Mahama came under heavy attacks by members of the NDC following his appointment of the then human rights lawyer as a minister of state.
The party grassroots contended that Oye Lithur, whose husband is lawyer to the president, was not a known sympathizer of the party. The President is however on record to have insisted that her appointment was purely based on merit.
The Gender ministry was created to coordinate and better implement social intervention programs aimed as safety nets for the poor and vulnerable in society and to compile a database for the sector. It was also to track the effect of government’s social intervention programs on its targets.
Oye Lithur in her work as a lawyer with the Commonwealth Human Rights Institute (CHRI) is deemed to have vast expertise in working with the vulnerable in society.
Speaking to Kasapa FM’s Maame Broni in an exclusive interview, Nana Oye disclosed that she is now an active member of the ruling party and ready to campaign for the second term bid of the President.
“I am part of NDC now. I was not part of the NDC when I was appointed as a minister. Everything is making me part of the NDC now. The social democratic principles, the leadership in president Mahama, the social development agenda, and the people oriented agenda and the team, that is what has made me become a part of the NDC,” She told Maame Broni.
She added that she will continue to be a human rights activist in spite of her political affiliation.
Bawumia ‘verified outside exhibition centre’ – EC
The Electoral Commission (EC) has confirmed the vice presidential candidate of the New Patriotic Party Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia was “verified outside an exhibition centre.”
The electoral management body arrived at that conclusion when it released its investigative report regarding the sacking of two of its officials in July for verifying Dr. Bawumia at his Walewale residence during the just ended verification exercise.
A three-member committee was set up by the Northern Regional Directorate of the Commission to investigate the incident involving Ambrose Yobe an exhibition officer and Mumuni Latifa a verification officer, who allegedly verified Dr. Bawumia outside the exhibition centre.
According to a statement issued by the EC under the signatory of the Commission’s Deputy Chairperson in charge of operations, Amadu Sulley, headlined: “Verification of Dr. M. Bawumia outside Designated Exhibition Centre” the investigative committee concluded the conduct of the two breaches the electoral rules.
The Commission therefore “wishes to advice political leaders to familiarize themselves with the electoral laws and regulations to enable them to insist on the right things being done at all times”.
It further urged members of the public to continue to support the electoral process by promptly bringing any irregularities to its attention for speedy resolution.
Below is the EC’s full statement
VERIFICATION OF DR. M. BAWUMIA OUTSIDE DESIGNATED EXHIBITION CENTRE
The Electoral Commission’s attention was drawn to an incident of involving the verification of a voter outside the designated Exhibition Centre number H230401 at the Kperiga Presby JHS ‘A’ in Walewale in the West Mamprusi District on 24th July, 2016.
A 3-member committee was set up by the Nothern Regional Directorate of the Commission to investigate the incident and provide appropriate recommendations. The Committee has completed its work and found as follows:
1. That on the said date, Mr. Ambrose Yobe (Exhibition Officer) and Ms. Mumuni Latifa (Verification Officer) closed and vacated their exhibition centre before the stipulated closing time of 6pm.
2. That Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia was facilitated by both officers to check his name in the voters’ register and got verified outside the exhibition centre.
The Committee was of the considered opinion that the conduct of the Officers was a violation of the guidelines issued for the exercise and contrary to the Commission’s policies.
According to the rules and the guidelines:
1. Only the Commission has the mandate to designate specific areas as Exhibition Centres.
Electoral Commission P. O. Box M.214 Accra.
2. Exhibition Officials have no authority to set-up or relocate Exhibition Centres to a place different from the one designated by the Commission without the prior express authorization of the EC.
3. Exhibition Officials are not permitted under any circumstances to vacate their duty posts or close their centres before the specified closing hours without prior authorization from the Commission.
The Committee concluded that allowing a registered voter to go through the exhibition process outside the designated centre was an irregularity and a breach of the rules. Accordingly, the two Officers were replaced by the Ag. District Electoral Officer as soon as the issue was brought to the attention of the Commission.
The Commission wishes to advice political leaders to familiarize themselves with the electoral laws and regulations to enable them to insist on the right things being done at all times.
The Commission would like to further encourage members of the public to continue to support the electoral process by promptly bringing any irregularities to its attention for speedy resolution.
Deputy Chairperson (Operations)
New poll puts Akufo-Addo ahead of Mahama
With 120 days more to the December 7 elections, an online opinion poll indicates that if the elections were held in July, leader of the largest opposition party, New Patriotic Party (NPP), Nana Akufo-Addo would obtain 49% of votes cast while the National Democratic Congress’ (NDC) candidate, President John Dramani Mahama, would secure 44% of votes cast.
The Progressive People’s Party’s (PPP) candidate, Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom, garnered 6% of the votes while Ivor Greenstreet, presidential candidate of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), secured 1% of the votes.
The remaining seven presidential candidates scored zero in the online poll directed by Isma-il Sulaiman and Bernard Boachie-Danquah.
They are Dr. Edward Mahama of the People’s National Convention (PNC); Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings of the National Democratic Party (NDP); Hassan Ayariga of All People’s Congress (APC); Jacob Osei Yeboah, Independent; Akwasi Addae Odike, United People’s Party (UPP); Henry Lartey, Great Consolidated People’s Party (GCPP), and Akua Donkor, Ghana Freedom Party.
A total of 1,644 Ghanaian adult respondents, aged 18 and above, took part in the poll conducted by Goodman AMC.
It comprises 1,052 likely male voters and 592 likely female voters.
In the previous survey that preceded this one, Nana Akufo-Addo led by 13 percentage points with 54% as against 41 percentage points for President Mahama.
However, 49% of likely Ghanaian voters now say they will back Nana Akufo-Addo, a dip of 5 percentage points, while 44% will vote for Mahama, an increase of 3 percentage points.
When respondents were given an option to choose a third party candidate they would ever consider voting for aside Mahama and Akufo-Addo, Papa Kwesi Nduom came out strongest and stood at 71% support, followed by Ivor Greenstreet at 15%.
Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings followed with 9% and Edward Mahama at 5%.
Though Nduom happens to be the strongest third party candidate, he has been scoring very low for a third-party candidate in polls when his name is included alongside Mahama and Nana Akufo-Addo.
Nduom has averaged 4% support in opinion polls conducted by Goodman AMC since March 2016 till now.
His support has not been able to register in the double-digits, according to data from Goodman AMC’s Opinion Polls.
Most likely voters say they have made up their minds about who to support; 82% of Mahama voters and 88% of Akufo-Addo voters say their choice is set.
About one in ten of each candidate’s supporters say their minds might change before the election.
The poll result suggests that a wide majority of male voters, 59%, support Akufo-Addo while a plurality of women, 64%, is for Mahama.
Differences also exist between likely voters with a college degree and those without a college education.
A majority of likely voters without a college education support Mahama. Among likely voters who are college graduates, 47% back Akufo-Addo to 43% for Mahama.
Also, 84% of Mahama’s supporters say they are very enthusiastic about their candidate while 71% of Akufo-Addo supporters also express this feeling.
Further, 93% of likely voters say they will definitely be voting on December 7 while 7% say they probably will.
This, therefore, gives a clear forecast for a high overall voter turnout of electorates this year.
Akufo-Addo, 49%; Mahama, 44%, in latest Goodman AMC Opinion Poll.
68% of respondents feel frustrated by the current power outages.
Respondents mention the economy (39%), jobs and unemployment (26%), agriculture (12%) and corruption (8%) as major challenges facing Ghanaians.
77% of respondents support Akufo-Addo’s 1-district, 1-factory policy.
President Mahama’s job approval ratings jump to 46%.
79% of respondents say they are not satisfied with the current subsidies on electricity tariffs.
Parliament’s approval ratings slip to 27%
General News of Friday, 5 August 2016
Dumsor will soon vanish from our vocabulary – Terkper
“Dumsor,” the term most people use to describe the erratic power supply that has hit the country in recent years, will soon vanish from the Ghanaian vocabulary, the acting Minister of Power, Mr Seth Terkper, has said.
He said the ministry and its agencies were spending sleepless nights to ensure that the disruption in power supply in the country was brought to normalcy.
“I, therefore, urge engineers and management of the sector to continue to explore whatever it takes to end the crisis even if it called for ‘performing magic’,’’ he said.
Mr Terkper, who is also the Minister of Finance, was speaking at a three-day Mid-Year Performance Review Conference for the Ministry of Power, its agencies and departments at Ada in the Greater Accra Region, recently.
The Mid-Year Review brought together all the agencies in the power sector such as the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo), the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), the Volta River Authority (VRA), the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo), the Bui Power Authority, the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Power.
The event was aimed at bringing the various agencies together to enable them to take a critical assessment of their targets and performance since the beginning of the year 2016, especially in the face of the current disruption in electricity supply.
The country has for the past few weeks experienced acute power supply due to a power deficit of more than 300 megawatts (MW). The situation was attributed to the cut in gas supply from Nigeria Gas (N-Gas) to the Tema enclave following debts owed by the VRA.
Also, gas supply from Ghana Gas to the Aboadze power enclave had also reduced considerably as a result of challenges confronting the Floating Production Storage and Offloading (FPSO) vessel, the FPSO Kwame Nkrumah.
The Akosombo Dam was also unable to generate power at full capacity due to the low level of water in the dam.
The situation has, however, improved steadily following the delivery of 950,000 barrels of crude oil from Nigeria to power the dual power plants in the Tema and Takoradi power enclaves.
The Aboadze power enclave in Takoradi in the Western Region took delivery of 400,000 barrels, while the Tema enclave took 550,000 barrels.
In order to sustain the improvement in the power sector, Mr Terkper called on all the key players in the sector to put in concerted efforts to further grow and improve the sector.
‘’The various Emergency Power Purchase Agreements and fast track projects to end the crisis are very essential and ought not to be in vain. This is, therefore, not the period for blame games but rather hard work and team work to yield positive results,’’ he stated.
According to him, the power sector held the prospect of growth for the country as electricity drove every aspect of the economy.
The sector, Mr Terkper said, therefore, deserved maximum attention and focus by all to ensure that the country had enough generation, transmission and distribution for an uninterrupted power supply.
The Deputy Minister of Power, Mr John Abdulai Jinapor, said the real challenge facing the power sector currently was the inadequate supply of Gas and diesel to run some of the power plants.
He was, however, optimistic that the recent importation of fuel would gradually bring the situation under control and further improve it.
For his part, the Chairman of the Energy Commission, Dr Kwame Ampofo, said the commission had embarked on major projects in the areas of solar power generation and distribution and other power renewable projects to augment the general efforts at energy sufficiency in the country.
Montie Gang Weep At Nsawam Prison
|Source: Daily Guide|
Prez Mahama Donates GHC5,000 To Assist Wayoosi
General News of Thursday, 4 August 2016
Withdrawal of case against me not surprising – Zanetor
The National Democratic Congress (NDC) Parliamentary Candidate for Klottey Korle, Zanetor Rawlings has said incumbent MP for the area, Nii Armah Ashitey’s withdrawal of case against her comes as no surprise.
According to her lawyer, Edudzi Tamakloe, he saw the discontinuance of the case coming as he knew Mr Ashitey’s legal team will hit a snag due to the manner in which they were handling the matter in court.
Nii Armah Ashitey, former Greater Accra Regional minister, went to court challenging the eligibility of Dr. Zanetor as the NDC nominee for the upcoming parliamentary polls but threw in the towel, withdrawing his lawsuit against his contender on Wednesday.
Nii Armah Ashitey has been in court since last year challenging the process and the eligibility of the winner of the NDC primary in the area.
The decision to stop the legal battles against Rawlings comes on the back of recent losses he suffered at the Supreme Court over aspects of his case in court.
But speaking to TV3 News, lawyer Edudzi Tamakloe, stated that Nii Armah’s latest action is a welcome news to both the legal and campaign team of Zanetor Rawlings, as their focus will now be fully focused on working to win the upcoming election.
“At all times Zanetor is ready to cooperate with anybody in the constituency to work for the NDC ensure that the party emerges victorious during the polls. At the end of the day the seat will not belong Zanetor but will be in the name of the NDC.”
I am a Ghanaian desperate for change – Occupy Ghana protester turned PPP Veep
Unveiled Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Progressive Peoples’ Party (PPP) says she speaks the mind of most Ghanaians when she says she is desperate for a change in government come the December 7 general elections.
“I am a Ghanaian who like you desperately wants change…who has seen better days and better times and therefore knows we are capable and deserve better” Brigitte Dzogbenuku said in her first public political speech.
Dzogbenuku, a women empowerment advocate, an OccupyGhana protester and a former Miss Ghana 1991 was presented to party delegates by the Presidential Candidate, Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom at the party headquarters in Asylum Down Thursday.
She acknowledged her lack of political experience but suggested she has experienced enough of poor quality governance under President John Mahama.
“Change is not going to come by sitting behind my laptop or tapping away at my phone every day expressing my displeasure at what Ghana has become. I actively want to do something about it. So if by this I am now labelled a politician, then that is what I have become,” she explained.
Dzogbenuku was part of a protest on July 1, 2014, organised by pressure group OccupyGhana, decrying poor governance and poor economic management skills of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC).
Perhaps pulling up memories of that protest, Brigitte Dzogbenuku lamented; “What do we see from examples of our leaders today. Today, everything goes. How did our dear Ghana get here?”
This is the second time Dr. Nduom has picked a woman for running-mate after an unsuccessful run in 2012 with former GBC Director-General Eva Lokko.
In his third attempt at the presidency, the business magnate has chosen the founder and Executive Director of Mentoring Women Ghana (MWG).
It is a nonprofit organization she launched one year after participating in Vital Voices’ Fortune/U.S. State Department Global Women’s Mentoring Partnership in 2008.
She owns a private company that does business with the Barclays Clubhouse, in addition to her non-profit, Mentoring Women Ghana (MWG) organisation.
Nduom picks former Miss Ghana as running mate
The Presidential candidate of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP) Dr. Papa Kwesi Nduom has named former Miss Ghana Brigitte Dzogbenuku as his running mate for the 2016 general elections.
Madam Dzorgbenuku was crowned Miss Ghana in 1991 and is not actively involved in Ghana politics.
Dr. Nduom had earlier told Bola Ray on Starr Chat that his choice of running mate is to give meaning to his ‘all inclusive’ and ‘Ghana first agenda’.
Miss Dzorgbenuku was named at a ceremony at the Asylum Down head office of the People’s Progressive Party Thursday morning.
Dr. Nduom has continued his tradition of picking a female as runningmate for general elections. In 2012, he named former GBC Director General Eva Lokko as his running mate ahead of that year’s election.
Meanwhile, the business magnate has also predicted that the 2016 elections will go into a runoff.
“Absolutely, [the elections] will go into a second round. I am sure that if we get our things right there will be three pots and we will figure out at the end which three would move up.
“The NDC doesn’t have the good will to win…the NPP is also not as strongly organized to be able to say we are going to go and do our one shot deal, we know we have to grow, we know we have to work so we are working so we can compete,” Dr. Nduom noted.
Ghanaian-born German ISIS fighter jailed in Bremen
Having received a ‘holy call’, Harry Sarfo left the comfort of his home in the upper class city of Bremen in 2015 to join the Islamic State in Syria. In order to prove worthy of his calling, Mr. Sarfo drove four straight days before he could reach the confines of IS.
His efforts were met with a bump after masked Islamic State’s secret service members announced to him and his German friend that Europeans were no longer welcome at Syria. He added that their efforts were direly needed back home to carry out IS plan of waging terrorism all over the world.
According to a report by The New York Times, the IS secret service member was speaking openly about the situation, saying that they have loads of people living in European countries and waiting for commands to attack the European people.” This revelation was before the terrorist attack in Brussels and Paris. He stressed the need for more attackers within the regions of especially Germany, Britain and England. The masked man explained that it was important to have concurrent attacks within the three specified countries. Harry Sarfo recounted these conversations when he was interviewed within his maximum security cells by a New York Times reporter. Thousands of pages of French, Belgian, German and Australian intelligence as well as interrogation documents intercepted by The Times stated that the operatives belonged to an intelligence unit of the Islamic State known as the Emni. The unit has become a combination of an internal police force and an external police branch tasked with the export of terror abroad.
The Islamic State’s attacks in Paris on Nov. 13 brought global attention to the group’s external terrorism network, which began sending fighters abroad two years ago. Mr. Sarfo’s account in addition to those of other captured recruits, has further unveiled IS machinery for projecting violence beyond its borders.
What they describe is a multilevel secret service under the overall command of the Islamic State’s most senior Syrian operative, spokesman and propaganda chief, Abu Muhammad al-Adnani. Below him is a tier of lieutenants empowered to plan attacks in different regions of the world, including a “secret service for European affairs,” a “secret service for Asian affairs” and a “secret service for Arab affairs,” according to Mr. Sarfo.
Reinforcing the idea that the Emni is a core part of the Islamic State’s operations, the interviews and documents indicate that the unit has carte blanche to recruit and reroute operatives from all parts of the organization — from new arrivals to seasoned battlefield fighters, and from the group’s Special Forces and its elite commando units. Taken together, the interrogation records show that operatives are selected by nationality and grouped by language into small, discrete units whose members sometimes only meet one another on the eve of their departure abroad.
And through the coordinating role played by Mr. Adnani, terror planning has gone hand-in-hand with the group’s extensive propaganda operations — including, Mr. Sarfo claimed, monthly meetings in which Mr. Adnani chose which grisly videos to promote based on battlefield events.
Based on the accounts of operatives arrested so far, the Emni has become the crucial cog in the group’s terrorism machinery, and its trainees led the Paris attacks and built the suitcase bombs used in a Brussels airport terminal and subway station. Investigation records show that its foot soldiers have also been sent to Austria, Germany, Spain, Lebanon, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia.
With European officials stretched by a string of assaults by seemingly unconnected attackers who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, Mr. Sarfo suggested that there may be more of a link than the authorities yet know. He said he was told that undercover operatives in Europe used new converts as go-betweens, or “clean men,” who help link up people interested in carrying out attacks with operatives who can pass on instructions on everything from how to make a suicide vest to how to credit their violence to the Islamic State.
The group has sent “hundreds of operatives” back to the European Union, with “hundreds more in Turkey alone,” according to a senior United States intelligence official and a senior American defense official, both of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence.
Mr. Sarfo, who was recently moved out of solitary confinement at his German prison because he is no longer considered violent, agrees with that assessment. “Many of them have returned,” he said. “Hundreds, definitely.”
The first port of call for new arrivals to the Islamic State is a network of dormitories in Syria, just across the border from Turkey. There, recruits are interviewed and inventoried.
Mr. Sarfo was fingerprinted, and a doctor came to draw a blood sample and perform a physical examination. A man with a laptop conducted an intake interview. “He was asking normal questions like: ‘What’s your name? What’s your second name? Who’s your mom? Where’s your mom originally from? What did you study? What degree do you have? What’s your ambition? What do you want to become?’” Mr. Sarfo said.
His background was also of interest. He was a regular at a radical mosque in Bremen that had already sent about 20 members to Syria, at least four of whom were killed in battle, according to Daniel Heinke, the German Interior Ministry’s counter-terrorism coordinator for the area. He had also served a one-year prison sentence for breaking into a supermarket safe and stealing 23,000 euros. Even though the punishment for theft in areas under Islamic State control is amputation, a criminal past can be a valued asset, Mr. Sarfo said, “especially if they know you have ties to organized crime and they know you can get fake IDs, or they know you have contact men in Europe who can smuggle you into the European Union.”
The bureaucratic nature of the intake procedure was recently confirmed by American officials after USB drives were recovered in the recently liberated Syrian city of Manbij, one of the hubs for processing foreign fighters.
Mr. Sarfo checked all the necessary boxes, and on the third day after his arrival, the members of the Emni came to ask for him. He wanted to fight in Syria and Iraq, but the masked operatives explained that they had a vexing problem.
“They told me that there aren’t many people in Germany who are willing to do the job,” Mr. Sarfo said soon after his arrest last year, according to the transcript of his interrogation by German officials, which runs more than 500 pages. “They said they had some in the beginning. But one after another, you could say, they chickened out, because they got scared — cold feet. Same in England.”
According to New York Times report, while some details of Mr. Sarfo’s account cannot be verified, his statements track with what other recruits related in their interrogations. Also both prison officials and the German intelligence agents who debriefed Mr. Sarfo after his arrest said they found him credible.
Since the rise of the Islamic State over two years ago, intelligence agencies have been collecting nuggets on the Emni. Originally, the unit was tasked with policing the Islamic State’s members, including conducting interrogations and ferreting out spies, according to interrogation records and analysts. But French members arrested in 2014 and 2015 explained that the Emni had taken on a new portfolio: projecting terror abroad.
“They mostly use people who are new Muslims, who are converts,” he said. Those “clean” converts “get in contact with the people, and they give them the message.” And in the case of some videotaped pledges of allegiance, the go-between can then send the video on to the handler in Europe, who uploads it for use by the Islamic State’s propaganda channels.
The intelligence documents and Mr. Sarfo agree that the Islamic State has made the most of its recruits’ nationalities by sending them back to plot attacks at home. Yet one important region where the Emni is not thought to have succeeded in sending trained attackers is North America, Mr. Sarfo said, recalling what the members of the branch told him.
Since late 2014, the Islamic State has instructed foreigners joining the group to make their trip look like a holiday in southern Turkey, including booking a return flight and paying for an all-inclusive vacation at a beach resort, from which smugglers arrange their transport into Syria, according to intelligence documents and Mr. Sarfo’s account.
That cover story creates pressure to keep things moving quickly during the recruits’ training in Syria, and most get a bare minimum — just a few days of basic weapons practice, in some instances.
Eventually, Mr. Sarfo, perhaps because of his robust build — 6-foot-1 and around 286 pounds when he arrived in Syria, was drafted into the Islamic State’s quwat khas, Arabic for Special Forces.
The unit only admitted single men who agreed not to marry during the duration of their training. In addition to providing the offensive force to infiltrate cities during battles, it was one of several elite units that became recruiting pools for the external operations branch, Mr. Sarfo said.
Along with his German friend, he was driven to the desert outside Raqqa.
“Showering was prohibited. Eating was prohibited, too, unless they gave it to you,” Mr. Sarfo said, adding that he had shared a cave with five or six others. Even drinking water was harshly rationed. “Each dwelling received two cups of water a day, put on the doorstep,” he said. “And the purpose of this was to test us, see who really wants it, who’s firm.”
The grueling training began: hours of running, jumping, push-ups, parallel bars, crawling. The recruits began fainting.
By the second week, they were each given a Kalashnikov assault rifle and told to sleep with it between their legs until it became “like a third arm,” he said, according to his interrogation transcript.
The punishment for failing to keep up was harsh. “There was one boy who refused to get up, because he was just too exhausted,” Mr. Sarfo told the authorities. “So they tied him to a pole with his legs and his arms and left him there.”
He learned that the Special Forces program involved 10 levels of training. After he graduated to Level 2, he was moved to an island on a river in Tabqa, Syria. The recruits’ sleeping spots now consisted of holes in the ground, covered by sticks and twigs. They practiced swimming, scuba diving and navigating by the stars.
Harry Sarfo said he had started doubting his allegiance to ISIS during his training, after seeing how cruelly they treated those who could not keep up. Making the propaganda video provided his final disillusionment when he saw how many times they recorded each scene in the five-minute film. Back in Germany, when he had been inspired by similar videos, he had always assumed they were real, not staged.
He began plotting his escape, which took weeks and involved sprinting and crawling in a field of mud before crossing into Turkey. He was arrested at Bremen Airport, where he landed on July 20, 2015, and he voluntarily confessed. He is now serving a three-year term on terrorism charges.
General News of Wednesday, 3 August 2016
I won’t be shocked if Mahama pardons Montie 3 – Ursula
New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament (MP) for Ablekuma West, Mrs. Ursula Owusu Ekuful has said that she won’t be surprised if President John Mahama grants pardon to the three persons jailed for contempt by the Supreme Court.
She is convinced the crusade to get the three contemnors out through the signing of petitions is a well orchestrated plan just to deceive Ghanaians.
Two panelists and host of Accra-based Montie FM are currently serving a four-month jail term for threatening the lives of judges in the country.
Leadership of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) who have described the sentence as harsh have joined the call for President Mahama to use his executive powers as enshrined in Article 72 of the constitution to grant the three jailed persons pardon.
One of the lawyers for the contemnors, Godwin Edudzi Tamakloe said information available to him suggests the President may pay heed to their request.
On Asempa FM’s Ekosii Sen programme Wednesday, Ursula Owusu Ekuful said she is not surprised at the incessant calls on the President for clemency.
She indicated that, the plea for pardon gives more credence to the fact that the NDC was behind the vitriolic attacks being launched on political opponents by the Montie trio.
The Ablekuma West MP said Article 72 is for exceptional circumstance and not to free persons who have threatened to kill judges.
Ursula Owusu Ekuful cautioned President Mahama against undermining the authority of the judiciary by heeding to the call of his party members.
EC extends re-registration of deleted NHIS registrants
The Electoral Commission (EC) has offered a second opportunity to deleted NHIS registrants, to get back onto the voters’ register ahead of the December polls.
The EC had earlier explained that there is no indication that an extension would ensure more people are re-registered.
EC’s Communications Director, Eric Dzakpasu, at a press conference last Friday stated that “there is no evidence that when an extension is granted, the remaining people will come out of their houses or communities to get their name re-registered.”
But after pleas by opposition parties and the general public the EC has decided to offer a lifeline to the over 30, 000 people who failed to register during the first registration period.
After an IPAC meeting Wednesday, the EC stated that “we are giving the deleted NHIS registrants a second opportunity from 5th to 12th August 2016 to re-register. So if you were unable to do earlier you have a second opportunity to get yourself back onto the voters’ register.”
EC petitioned to extend re-registration
The Member of Parliament for the Efutu Constituency in the Central Region, Alex Afenyo Markin, also petitioned the Commission to extend the window of re-registration for NHIS card registrants by 10 days.
The MP lamented that the exercise in his constituency has been fraught with power and logistical challenges which have prevented the EC from capturing as many names as possible.
NPP welcomes e-transmission of electoral results
The main opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) has no qualms with the Electoral Commission’s intention to transmit election results electronically in the December 7 polls, Acting Chairman of the Danquah-Busia-Dombo party has told Class FM in Bolgatanga.
“[On the] e-transmission [of election results], we’ve agreed, we’ve discussed [it with the Electoral Commission]. The world is moving forward and IT is also moving forward.
There’s nothing basically wrong with the e-transmission except that it must be transparent and must be accessible to all the parties involved. At every stage of the transmission, we should all be aware, we should all have access to it, we should all know how it is going, so, we are in principle not against, we’ve been told [about it] except that we want it done in a transparent manner so that there won’t be any libi-libi (rigging),” Mr. Blay said on Wednesday August 3.
His comments contradict that of his party’s campaign manager Mr. Peter Mac Manu, who recently accused the EC of not adequately briefing the NPP about the e-transmission process.
Mr. Mac Manu had said “no political party or civil society organisation has received invitation from the EC to attend the demonstration” of the transmission process. He said on Sunday July 31 that the EC had not been able to convince the country why it intended to conduct e-transmission of poll results in December.
“First, there is no law which gives the EC the mandate to electronically transmit results, nothing in the law before parliament now. C.I. 94 makes mention of it. Also, the law talks about the EC receiving all the collated results from the Statement of Poll and Declaration of Results (pink sheets) signed by party agents at the constituency level, and the expectation is that they will be brought to the National Collation Centre before the winner of the presidential race will be declared,” he said.
Mr. Manu also raised concerns about the integrity of the e-transmission system. “Potentially, the results can be tampered with, and by that I mean modified mid-transmission. Particularly in the absence of strong network security and encryption,” he said.
He continued: “Also, if the system starts sending and breaks down midstream, there could be confusion. We have seen that in Ecuador, where for two weeks the results were not coming. We have seen that in Mexico and we have also seen e-transmission failing in Kenya, which was the main reason behind their election petition in 2012.”
“The focus, we believe, should rather be on first ensuring that a certified true copy of the pink sheet, from each of the 29,000 is brought to the National Collation Centre before the Chairperson of the EC finally declares the winner. They can all be brought to Accra within 48 hours from even the remotest part of Ghana,” Mr. Mac Manu added.
General News of Tuesday, 2 August 2016
Tension mounts in Tafo; youth march to chief’s palace to demand guns
Youth of Old Tafo on Tuesday marched to the chief’s palace demanding guns to protect themselves.
This was after they had expressed concern – to journalists – about the growing threats from the Zongo youth in the community to avenge the the fatal uprising last February.
According to the youth, four persons have been recently attacked by the Zongo youth, leaving one Kojo Antwi almost butchered to death.
The Old Tafo youth accused their Member of Parliament, Anthony Osei Akoto, of allowing the tension to fester because he has not made any pronouncement on the issue.
They called on the Asantehene to intervene before the situation gets out of hand.
They also want the Regional Security Council (REGSEC), the Asanteman Council and government to add their voice to calm tempers down .
The youth were all over the palace on Tuesday morning, our reporter said.
NDC wants Okudzeto arrested for ‘threatening’ Mahama
A comment by a former president of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), Mr. Sam Okudzeto, that president would be planning his own funeral if he gave in to the pressure mounting on him to grant presidential pardon to the three Montie FM contemnors – Godwin Ako Gunn, Alistair Nelson and Salifu Maase – is a threat to Ghana’s democracy, Mr. Johnson Asiedu Nketiah, General Secretary of the governing National Democratic Congress (NDC) has said.
Mr. Okudzeto told Class News that: “They [contemnors] threatened judges, which is a criminal offence, the [Attorney General] refused to prosecute the people and now should he [Mr Mahama] free them that is going to be his own funeral. …What lesson will he be telling the people of Ghana; that if people commit a criminal offence, because they are his party people, therefore, he should go and pardon them? Is that a proper way to administer the pardon? That is my view. If he wants to do it, he should go ahead and do it, but they forget we are all in Ghana; it is not just me.”
He stressed: “People have threatened to kill judges, which is a criminal offence, which is there in the criminal code and the Attorney General has not prosecuted them and he [President Mahama] wants to go and pardon? He should go ahead and pardon them because his party people want it, his party chairman said it, but as for me, I will not be a party to it.”
But Mr. Asiedu Nketiah in a statement said: “The NDC considers this statement from Mr. Okudzeto not only as a threat to President Mahama’s life but also, a danger to the very foundation of the country’s Constitution, the people, and democracy, especially when such baseless and dangerous pronouncement is coming from a supposed seasoned and experienced legal practitioner of no mean repute.”
“While condemning this unfortunate statement in no uncertain terms, the NDC also calls on the Police and the security agencies to invite Mr. Okudzeto to answer for such reckless and irresponsible statement since it is pregnant with unimaginable provocation to lawlessness and chaos.”
Supreme Court ‘erred bitterly’ on Montie 3 – Woyome
Businessman, Mr Alfred Agbesi Woyome has jumped into the debate of whether or not the Montie 3 should be granted a presidential pardon and argued that the procedure the Supreme Court used to convict and sentence the three was “wrong”.
In an interview with TV Gold, Mr Woyome argued that the Supreme Court “erred bitterly” in the whole matter and that the only solution to undo the wrong was for President John Mahama to invoke his powers of mercy under Article 72 of the 1992 constitution.
Throwing his support for the “Free Montie 3 Movement,” Mr Woyome contended that the 1992 constitution was carefully written bearing in mind that, “if there was judiciary tyranny or mistake, the President could use his powers under Article 72.”
His argument is that the President was elected by the people and the constitution was also written by the people and therefore does not understand why anybody should look at it as political.
‘Kufuor also did it’
“The President [Kufuor] has invoked it before when it mattered for the NPP. It was invoked nobody talked, why.”
According to Mr Woyome, the convicts showed remorse and therefore shouldn’t have been put in jail.
He said the sentence does not mean that they should be gagged. ”I am telling all journalists including ‘Montie’ that they can never be gagged. Don’t even feel that you have been gagged.”
He said the issue was that the process was wrong. “I’m also amazed that the lawyers were asking all of them to say that ‘we are guilty. We are not guilty of anything because the process is wrong in the first place. The process is completely wrong,” he said.
‘AG should have acted’
To him, the Attorney General should have taken up the matter as it has always done in many matters including his [Woyome] own case.
“The AG should have done something and I agree with Justice Sophia that the AG should have acted, I agree with that aspect. Because this also gave them the chance, I mean if I am the one and you bring the person to me I will be so angry and I can make a mistake.”
“I’m saying that the Supreme Court has erred in this ruling, they have erred and erred bitterly. The only solution to put everything back is for us all to be happy in this country and the Supreme Court also to be happy is for the President to exercise his right under Article 72, I don’t think it is going to hurt anybody. If people are on radio and on TV being partisan, I’m not part of that. The issue is that all these lawyers of this country and judges know that the process is wrong and that the Supreme Court has erred. That is why I am here to try to gently tell my president that he should reflect, it is not a force, the people who are expressing their sentiments, some could be emotional, some could be saying anything but I think that for the good of this country, Article 72 must be invoked to serve as precedent. It checks everything.”
Free Montie 3, kill your 2nd term bid – Tarzan warns Mahama
President John Mahama would be killing his second term presidential bid should he succumb to pressure and free the Montie trio, Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobby, former CEO of state power producer Volta River Authority (VRA) has warned.
“I do not need to conjure my inherited DNA powers from Okomfo Anokye to predict that if the president were to act in the interest and name of the NDC, instead of the people of Ghana, it will sound the death knell for his second term ambition.
It will also be the last gasp act of the ‘gaping sycophants’ who have trotted out to be seen publicly to be putting pressure on their boss to act unwisely. Yet I have this underlining feeling that all these folks who enjoy the V8 & S7 trappings of power will act so brazenly unless it is all part of a shambolic, coordinated act of which JDM is fully aware of, and/or orchestrating from the comfort of the Flagstaff House,” Dr Wereko-Brobby, known in political circles as Tarzan wrote in an article.
The trio: Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn, and Salifu Maase, aka ‘Mugabe’, were cited for contempt by the Supreme Court for scandalising and bringing the name of the bench into disrepute when they threatened to kill justices of the court during a discussion on political talk show Pampaso, hosted by Mugabe on Accra-based Montie FM. They were sentenced to a four-month jail term.
Following their sentencing, supporters of the governing National Democratic Congress, groups, friends, and family have mounted pressure on Mr. Mahama to grant them pardon by invoking his prerogative of mercy powers under Article 72 of the 1992 Constitution.
A petition book to solicit one million signatures in support of freeing the convicts has been opened at Radio Gold. It has been signed by some Ministers and Deputy Ministers. The Ga Traditional Council on Monday, August 1, at a news conference, also joined the fray and pleaded with Mr. Mahama to show mercy.
Dr. Wereko-Brobby, however, cautioned Mr Mahama to be careful with whatever decision he takes on the trio saying: “If he [Mr. Mahama] still wants a second term to fix the power crisis and complete the construction of the 200 model SHSs, I will advise him to allow the ‘Montie 3’ to serve their sentences in full and then pardon them à la Bill Clinton’s pardon on his last day in office, which ironically is threatening his return to the White House as First Gentleman.
My firm advice to my brother John is to clothe himself in the Japanese robe of the humane Mikado, who declared that his object was “to let the punishment fit the crime and make each prisoner repent.”